Seeing-in is a Transparency Effect (draft paper).
Philosophers of art use the term “seeing-in” to describe an important part of our experience of pictures: we often “see” a picture’s subject matter “in” its surface. This paper proposes that seeing-in is an example of a perceptual phenomenon that has received extensive attention in perceptual psychology: the perception of transparency. It is generally accepted that transparency perception is governed by laws of “scission”. I argue that seeing-in is also subject to these laws, and that seeing-in can be understood as a kind of transparency effect. In the process I examine how such a proposal could account for apparent differences between seeing-in and transparency perception – in particular, the fact that we report that picture surfaces seem opaque rather than transparent – and develop a detailed alternative account of the phenomenology of pictures, including not only seeing-in but other forms of pictorial experience.
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