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Resemblance and Representation

Ben Blumson


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1This book has had a long gestation, and I have needed a lot of help, so there are a lot of people to thank. Much of the philosophy of language and mind I draw on in these pages I learnt as an undergraduate at the University of Queensland. I thank especially Deborah Brown, William Grey, Dominic Hyde and Gary Malinas for everything they taught me. I also met many of my closest friends at the University of Queensland – I would especially like to thank June Mahadevan.

2The first version of the book was my PhD thesis at the Australian National University (ANU). I especially thank my supervisors Daniel Stoljar, David Chalmers and Martin Davies. Andy Egan, Frank Jackson and Robert McRoberts read entire drafts, while Catharine Abell, Jake Beck, Elizabeth Coleman, Daniel Friedrich, Brendan Jackson and Uriah Kriegel gave me comments on various chapters. The examiners also gave me helpful comments on the finished thesis.

3I learnt as much at ANU from my fellow students as my teachers. In particular, Jens Christian Bjerring, David Bourget, Campbell Brown, Carl Brusse, Jacek Brzozowski, Brett Calcott, Yuri Cath, Philippe Chuard, Aisling Crean, Nic Damnjanovic, Ben Fraser, Akira Inoue, Ben Jeffares, Mitch Joe, Ole Koksvik, John Matthewson, Yujin Nagasawa, Karen Riley, Kelly Roe, Stewart Saunders, Martin Smith, Nic Southwood, Weng Hong Tang and David Wall all helped me more than they know.

4In addition, I am very grateful to Magdalena Balcerak, John Bigelow, David Braddon-Mitchell, Tyler Dogget, Christoph Fehige, Alan Hajek, Bernard Nickel, Daniel Nolan, John O’Dea, Brad Richards, Denis Robinson and Declan Smithies for discussions at ANU. When Yuri Cath saw the thesis acknowledgements he accused me of thanking everyone indiscriminately. But this list is just a small fraction of the people I spoke to at ANU – I am very sorry to all those I have omitted.

5I finished the first draft of the book, conceived as such, as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sydney. I’m grateful to Uriah Kriegel, Raamy Majeed and Luca Moretti for discussions during this time. I also thank Axel Gelfert, John Holbo, Wang-Yen Lee, Mike Pelczar, Neil Sinhababu and especially Tang Weng-Hong for taking part in a reading group on the book at the National University of Singapore, and Gabriel Greenberg, Raamy Majeed and David Wall for comments on the draft.

6Finally, I am grateful for conversations at conferences and seminars with Catharine Abell, Rafael De Clerq, Mitchell Green, Robert Hopkins, John Kulvicki, Paisley Livingston, Dominic Lopes, Dan Marshall, Michael Newall, Josh Parsons, Michael Rescorla, John Williams, Alberto Voltolini and John Zeimbekis. And I’m grateful to very many – but unfortunately not to all – referees who read the book manuscript or drafts of the papers mentioned below.

7Parts of chapters one, two and three appeared previously as “Defining Depiction” in the British Journal of Aesthetics (2009a). This paper was presented at the Australasian Postgraduate Philosophy Conference in Melbourne, the University of Queensland and the Singapore Management University in 2005, at the Australian National University and the British Society of Aesthetics in 2006, and at “Images and Intentionality”, a workshop I organised at the University of Sydney in 2008.

8Parts of chapters four and five appeared as “Depiction and Convention” in dialectica (2008). This paper was also presented at the Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference in Canberra and at the Australian National University in 2006. The final paragraphs of chapter four are from “Depictive Structure?” in Philosophical Papers (2011). This paper was presented at the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division in 2009 and at the University of Western Australia in 2010.

9Parts of “Maps and Meaning” from the Journal of Philosophical Research (2010a) are reused in chapter six. I thank Daniel Friedrich and Uriah Kriegel for reading this paper. Chapter six in its current form, “Depiction and Composition”, was presented at the Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference in Sydney in 2010, the University of Copenhagen and the London Aesthetics Forum in 2011 and the Victoria University of Wellington in 2013.

10Chapter seven, “Interpreting Images”, was presented to the American Society of Aesthetics Pacific Division in 2009, at a workshop, “Depiction and Description” in Singapore in 2010, and to the International Society of Philosophy and Literature in Singapore and at the University of Western Australia in 2013. I thank Liz Blumson for reading this chapter. Chapter eight previously appeared as “Images, Intentionality and Inexistence” in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2009b) and was presented at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University in 2007.

11Chapter nine was published as “Pictures Perspective and Possibility” in Philosophical Studies (2010b). This paper was also presented at the New Zealand division of the Australasian Association of Philosophy in 2007 and the University of Sydney in 2008. Chapter ten was presented at a workshop at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, “Art and Metaphysics”, and at the University of Sydney in 2012.

12It’s difficult to acknowledge family without sounding like one is winning an academy award rather than writing an academic monograph. Nevertheless, Elizabeth, Erica and Emily Blumson are the best mother and sisters one could ask for. While a quick look at my thesis convinced my nephew that it was mind-numbingly repetitive (no doubt some other readers will be sympathetic), my father patiently read it all, and corrected several mistakes. This book is dedicated to him.


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