• Perspective



Kim H. Veltman

Perception, Perspective and Representation in North America

Published in Italian as: “Percezione, prospettiva e rappresentazione nell’America Settentrionale”: Specchi americani. La filosofia europea nel nuovo mondo, ed. Caterina Marrone, G. Coccoli, G. Santese , F. Ratto, Rome: Castelvecchi, 1994, pp. 287-345. (Contatti 6, III convegno di studi filosofici di San Sepolcro).

1. Introduction
2. Spherical Perspective
3. Multi-View Perspective
4. Space and Time
5. I.A. vs. A.I.
6. Fractals
7. Space and Ahistorical Timelessness
8. Conclusions.

1. Introduction
In 1956, Sir Ernst Gombrich gave the A. W. Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery in Washington. These became his famous Art and Illusion (1960). The subtitle of that work, A study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, could well serve as a summary of developments in North America in the fields of representation, perspective, perception, and vision. This paper begins with a survey of some major trends in these fields, noting the European roots of American views. Particular attention is given to the development of alternative methods of perspective which are related to recent developments in virtual reality. Two different interpretations of these trends are offered. The paper ends with questions concerning the philosophical implications of these developments.

In the European tradition there has been a debate almost as old as philosophy itself whether perception is innate (Plato, Descartes) or learned (Aristotle, Locke), with notable figures such as Kant who tried to find a middle ground between these extremes. In the United States these traditions, characterized as nativism versus empiricism by authors such as Hochberg (1963), have tended to be treated as polarities, oppositions in which nativism has triumphed over empiricism. As a result Descartes receives particular attention; a mitigating figure such as Kant is frequently cubbyholed as a nativist and particular emphasis is given to psychological dimensions and conventionalism, even though realism continues to have its defenders.

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