Truth and Falsehood in Visual Images

Truth and Falsehood in Visual Images

Truth and Falsehood in Visual Images

Truth and Falsehood in Visual Images

Excerpt

This is a philosophical essay based on concrete examples. Therefore it does not contain the detailed logical arguments that might be expected of it within the field of aesthetics. We find that version of aesthetics dull or overextended, and correspondingly think of this as a short book that may appeal to art historians and philosophers interested in the choice of examples and their implications; to sociologists or anthropologists concerned with the visual arts, including photography and advertising; and, more generally, to all who are concerned with the underlying premises of verbal and visual communication and the relations between the two, to which we make frequent reference.

We hope that the very form of the book may engage readers of those differing kinds in stimulating and at the same time serious ways. The illustrations are chosen from amongst the many images or types of image referred to and are laid out with such an appeal in mind.

We enter the field without any basic contention to offer as to what makes a visual image true or false, or what it means historically so to describe one. This is because there are two distinct denotational frameworks that stand ready to entrap one for definitional purposes. Both of them come up in separate sections of Ernst Gombrich's Art and Illusion. He states in his chapter "Truth and the Stereotype" that "a picture . . . can no more be true or false than a statement can be blue or green"; which is a logical pronouncement about two-dimensional images possessing some kind of informational content, which usually have an identifying title or caption attached to them (on the museum wall or on the page). Earlier, on the other hand, he had used as epigraph to another of his chapters the passage from Liotard's eighteenth-century treatise, "Painting can persuade through the most evident falsehoods that she is pure Truth." This as an affirmation about the capacity of painting to affect our beliefs belongs in a tradition of aesthetic and critical . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.