Centrum för kognitiv semiotik (CCS)

Humanistiska och teologiska fakulteterna | Lunds universitet


The Phenomenology of Depicting

Edouard Marbach (University of Bern)

In his analysis of pictorial or image consciousness (Bildbewusstsein), the philosopher Edmund Husserl put three objects into relation with one another, i.e. the physical picture or picture thing (physisches Bild, Bildding), the picture object (Bildobjekt) and the picture subject (Bildsujet) (e.g., Husserl 1980, Nr. 1; G Sonesson 2011). In the center of this lecture, there will be an attempt to clarify the phenomenologically crucial but tricky notion of what Husserl termed the "Bildobjekt" and of its status of being a "double object" (doppelte Gegenständlichkeit) or a "noematic object pair" (noematisches Objektpaar) to which corresponds a twofold intentionality of the mental activity of depicting. With the help of examples and without using too much phenomenological jargon, it should become clear that in referring to something depicted, phenomenologically viewed, the representational mental activity of imagining, i.e. of intentionally referring to something not believed to be actually present, is essentially involved and is apt to explain why it is that there is something unreal (unwirklich), something of the ontologically dubious status of a mere semblance (Schein) about pictorial representations, albeit without involving an illusion in the sense of a false belief.

Reading suggestions:

  • Husserl, Edmund. No.1: Phantasy and Image Consciousness, in Edmund Husserl. Phantasy, Image Consciousness, and Memory (1898-1925), translated by John B. Brough, Springer 2005, especially chapter 8, §§ 40-44, pp. 89-98. - German original in Husserliana 23, 1980, ed. by Eduard Marbach.
  • Husserl, Edmund. No. 16: Reproduction and Image Consciousness. Separating the apprehension of an image object from the consciousness of a perceptual illusion. Universalization of the concept of phantasy (Re-presentation): 1) Reproductive Re-presentation, 2) Perceptual Re-presentation; that is, Re-presentation in image, in pictorial exhibiting (probably spring, 1912), in Brough's translation, pp. 553-565.
  • Husserl, Edmund. No. 17: On the theory of image consciousness and figment consciousness , in Brough's translation, pp. 581-589.
  • Sonesson, Göran. The Mind in the Picture and the Picture in the Mind: A Phenomenological Approach to Cognitive Semiotics. 2011, pp. 167-182.