Mimesis as Make-Believe

Mimesis as Make-Believe : On the Foundations of the Representational Arts

3.93 (54 ratings by Goodreads)
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Representations-in visual arts and in fiction-play an important part in our lives and culture. Kendall Walton presents here a theory of the nature of representation, which illuminates its many varieties and goes a long way toward explaining its importance. Drawing analogies to children's make believe activities, Walton constructs a theory that addresses a broad range of issues: the distinction between fiction and nonfiction, how depiction differs from description, the notion of points of view in the arts, and what it means for one work to be more "realistic" than another. He explores the relation between appreciation and criticism, the character of emotional reactions to literary and visual representations, and what it means to be caught up emotionally in imaginary events.

Walton's theory also provides solutions to the thorny philosophical problems of the existence-or ontological standing-of fictitious beings, and the meaning of statements referring to them. And it leads to striking insights concerning imagination, dreams, nonliteral uses of language, and the status of legends and myths.

Throughout Walton applies his theoretical perspective to particular cases; his analysis is illustrated by a rich array of examples drawn from literature, painting, sculpture, theater, and film. Mimesis as Make-Believe is important reading for everyone interested in the workings of representational art.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 29.97mm | 635g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 27 halftones, 3 line illustrations, 2 tables
  • 0674576039
  • 9780674576032
  • 212,588

Table of contents

Acknowledgments Introduction PART 1: REPRESENTATIONS 1. Representation and Make-Believe 1. Imagining 2. Prompters 3. Objects of Imaginings 4. Imagining about Oneself 5. Props and Fictional Truths 6. Fictionality without Props: Dreams and Daydreams 7. Representations 8. Nonfigurative Art 9. Fictional Worlds 10. The Magic of Make-Believe 2. Fiction and Nonfiction 1. Nonfiction 2. Fiction versus Reality 3. Linguistic Strategies 4. Fiction and Assertion 5. Pretended and Represented Illocutionary Actions 6. Fiction Making as an Illocutionary Action? 7. Mixtures, Intermediates, Ambiguity, Indeterminacy 8. Legends and Myths 9. A Note on Truth and Reality 10. Two Kinds of Symbols? 3. Objects of Representation 1. What Objects Are 2. Representation and Matching 3. Determinants 4. Representing and Referring 5. Uses of Objects 6. Reflexive Representation 7. The Inessentiality of Objects 8. Nonactual Objects? 4. The Mechanics of Generation 1. Principles of Generation 2. Direct and Indirect Generation 3. Principles of Implication 4. The Mechanics of Direct Generation 5. Silly Questions 6. Consequences PART 2: APPRECIATING REPRESENTATIONS 5. Puzzles and Problems 1. Rescuing Heroines 2. Fearing Fictions 3. Fictionality and Other Intentional Properties 6. Participation 1. Participation in Children's Games 2. Appreciators as Participants 3. Verbal Participation 4. Restrictions on Participation 5. Asides to the Audience 6. Seeing the Unseen 7. Psychological Participation 1. Fearing Fictionally 2. Participating Psychologically 3. Paradoxes of Tragedy 4. Suspense and Surprise 5. The Point of Participation 6. Appreciation without Participation PART 3: MODES AND MANNERS 8. Depictive Representation 1. Depiction Defined 2. Looking at Pictures and Looking at Things 3. Styles of Depiction 4. Realism 5. Cross-Modal Depiction 6. Musical Depictions 7. Points of View (in Depictions) 8. Conclusion 9. Verbal Representations 1. Verbal Depiction 2. Narration 3. Two Kinds of Reliability 4. Nonverbal Narration 5. Absent and Effaced Narrators 6. Storytelling Narrators 7. Mediation 8. Points of View in Narrated Representations PART 4: SEMANTICS AND ONTOLOGY 10. Doing without Fictitious Entities 1. The Problem 2. Speaking within and about Fictional Worlds 3. Ordinary Statements 4. Unofficial Games 5. Variations 6. Logical Form 11. Existence 1. Betrayal and Disavowal 2. Claims of Existence and Nonexistence Works Cited Index
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Review Text

Representations in visual arts and fiction play an important part in our lives and culture. Walton presents a theory of the nature of representation, which shows its many varieties and explains its importance. His analysis is illustrated with examples from film, art, literature and theatre.
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Review quote

Rigor, ingenuity and arresting subtlety are evident in the detailed working out of Walton's ideas. -- Sebastian Gardner * Times Literary Supplement * This is philosophy at its best; combining the breadth of concern of the best continental philosophy (but shorn of its often wilful cloudiness) and the precision of the best analytical philosophy... A work of very great importance that will set the agenda for discussions in aesthetics for a long time to come. * Philosophy * Walton's aim...is to explore and explain the foundations of the representational arts. His theory is one that he has stated and restated with increasing detail and sophistication over the last seventeen years, and in this book it bears all the refinement and subtlety of argument that analytic philosophy can muster. This is an engaging, insightful, and persuasive volume. * Philosophy and Literature * Kendall Walton's book is one of the few genuinely distinguished contributions to aesthetic theory published in the last decade or two. It will be essential reading for anyone in the field and contains much that will be of great interest to scholars and critics of the arts. -- Marshall Cohen, University of Southern California
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About Kendall L. Walton

Kendall L. Watson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan.
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Rating details

54 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 33% (18)
4 37% (20)
3 20% (11)
2 7% (4)
1 2% (1)
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