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How to Do Things with Pictures

Skill, Practice, Performance


Edited By András Benedek and Kristof Nyiri

Pictorial meaning involves not just resemblance, but also pictorial skills, pictorial acts, practices, and performance. Especially in the classroom setting, at all levels of education, it is essential to realize that teaching with pictures and learning through pictures is a practical enterprise where thinking is embedded in doing. Promoting visual learning means to be a visionary, and to take on an enormous educational challenge. But while adaptation and innovation are inevitable in a world where technological changes are rapidly and radically altering the learning environment, educational science and the everyday practice of education clearly need to retain a measure of conservatism. And any conservatism worth the name has to take account of visuality, visual thinking, and visual learning.


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Epistemic Functions of Pictures. Some Conceptual Preliminaries. Klaus Sachs-Hombach


Epistemic Functions of Pictures Some Conceptual Preliminaries Klaus Sachs-Hombach 1. Introduction It is widely acknowledged that pictures fulfil crucial social functions. The as- sumption that they fulfil scientific functions as well is somewhat more disputa- ble, though. Pictures do perform a scientific function in a narrow sense (that is: not only a didactic but in fact an epistemic function) if they are in any way rel- evant to the act of acquiring knowledge or if they even contribute to the justifi- cation of knowledge. Since the Platonic criticism of pictures, such a possibility has often been judged negatively. A central argument in this context is that pic- tures only reproduce the visual properties of the represented entity which, in addition, depend on numerous contingent conditions such as a specific lighting and perspective. Thus, pictures are barred in particular from reaching the degree of abstractness that is typical of concepts. Moreover, logical relations – such as negation – are difficult to visualize. In the following, I will give an overview of the ways in which pictures can nevertheless be epistemologically relevant. In order to do so, I will firstly draw a threefold distinction regarding the contexts in which pictures are used: the epis- temic functions of pictures differ depending on whether they find a use as empir- ical basis, in contexts of justification or in contexts of discovery. Secondly, I will examine in more detail two specific problems concerning the epistemic func- tions of pictures. 2. Pictures and Knowledge 2.1. Pictures as Empirical...

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