One must have the power of imagining it as well as perceiving it; that is, of imagining it otherwise

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Indeed, even with the greatest bad faith in the world, it is impossible to detect a rivalry between the male and the female human that is specifically physiological. (Pg.87)

“No, woman is not our brother; through negligence and corruption, we have made her a being apart, unknown, having no weapon but her sex, which is not only perpetual war but in addition an unfair weapon—adoring or hating, but not a frank companion or a being with esprit de corps and freemasonry—of the eternal little slave’s defiances.” -Jules Laforgue

Many men would still subscribe to these words of Jules Laforgue;1 many think that there will always be Sturm und Drang between the two sexes and that fraternity will never be possible for them. The fact is that neither men nor women are satisfied with each other today. But the question is whether it is an original curse that condemns them to tear each other apart or whether the conflicts that pit them against each other express a transitory moment in human history. (Pg.87)
The fact is that men encounter more complicity in their woman companions than the oppressor usually finds in the oppressed; and in bad faith they use it as a pretext to declare that woman wanted the destiny they imposed on her. We have seen that in reality her whole education conspires to bar her from paths of revolt and adventure; all of society—beginning with her respected parents—lies to her in extolling the high value of love, devotion and the gift of self and in concealing the fact that neither lover, husband nor children will be disposed to bear the burdensome responsibility of it. (Pg.95)

If, from the earliest age, the little girl were raised with the same demands and honors, the same severity and freedom, as her brothers, taking part in the same studies and games, promised the same future, surrounded by women and men who are unambiguously equal to her, the meanings of the “castration complex” and the “Oedipus complex” would be profoundly modified.
The mother would enjoy the same lasting prestige as the father if she assumed equal material and moral responsibility for the couple; the child would feel an androgynous world around her and not a masculine world; were she more affectively attracted to her father—which is not even certain—her love for him would be nuanced by a will to emulate him and not a feeling of weakness: she would not turn to passivity; if she were allowed to prove her worth in work and sports, actively rivaling boys — the promise of a child—would not suffice to cause an “inferiority complex”; correlatively, the boy would not have a natural “superiority complex” if it were not instilled in him and if he held women in the same esteem as men.*3 The little girl would not seek sterile compensations in narcissism and dreams, she would not take herself as given, she would be interested in what she does, she would throw herself into her pursuits. (Pg.102)

The Psychology of Imagination

For the power to see things in different ways, and to form images about a so far non-existent future, is identical with the power of imagination. It is thus absolutely appropriate that Sartre’s first serious philosophical work should have been concerned with what turns out to be the foundation upon which freedom itself rests.

Introduction by Mary Warnock

The Psychology of Imagination is a translation of the French work entitled L’Imaginaire, which was first published in 1940, three years before the publication of Being and Nothingness, Sartre’s most complete philosophical work. It was his second work on the imagination. In 1936 he had published imagination, which was an essay mainly critical and expository in character. It ended, however, on a note of enquiry, posing a further problem about the nature of the imagination which he sets out to solve in the present book.
There are several respects in which this second study of imagination forms a peculiarly valuable introduction to the early philosophical writings of Sartre as a whole, as well as being an extraordinarily interesting work in its own right. First of all, The Psychology of Imagination was specifically designed as an essay in phenomenology. It was Sartre who first introduced Husserl’s work to France. L’Imaginaire was subtitled Tsychologie Phénoménologique de l’imagination’, and is probably the first of a vast list of French philosophical books which, for good or ill, came to have such titles in the ensuing twenty years. He started the study of imagination from the assertion, derived from phenomenology, that the imagination as part of human consciousness, must be directed upon some object.

This is the case in which an object in the real world may be seen either as an analogue or simply as something which has no reference beyond itself to anything else. Sartre has many fascinating things to say about this kind of case. One may, for example, look at a painting and not realize at first that it is a portrait of an actual, though absent, person. Then suddenly, by what he refers to as a ‘radical conversion’, one may see the painting in a new way as an analogue. One sees it, that is to say, not as being the person whom it represents, but as standing for him. The painting takes on a specific meaning, beyond itself.

freedom to act in the world is a function of his ability to perceive things not only as they are, but as they are not

There is one final aspect of The Psychology of Imagination which links it to the main body of Sartre’s philosophy and makes it a useful introduction to the whole. Not only in Being and Nothingness, but even in his later works, he insists that man’s freedom to act in the world is a function of his ability to perceive things not only as they are, but as they are not. If man could not, first, describe a present given situation both as it is and as it is not; and if he could not, secondly and consequentially, envisage a given situation as possibly being otherwise than how it is, then he would have no power to intervene in the world to change it. If he could not realize, in experiencing his present ills, that they might be removed, that his life might be different, he would have neither motive nor capacity for remedying his situation. Merely to experience something as given is not enough. One must have the power of imagining it as well as perceiving it; that is, of imagining it otherwise. For the power to see things in different ways, and to form images about a so far non-existent future, is identical with the power of imagination. It is thus absolutely appropriate that Sartre’s first serious philosophical work should have been concerned with what turns out to be the foundation upon which freedom itself rests. It was in The Psychology of Imagination that he first brought together his new enthusiasm for phenomenology with the kind of analysis of the prerequisites of human freedom which, more or less, was going to be his main concern in his later philosophical works.


Specifically, the communicative intentions explain resemblance’s role.

3.2 Resemblance and communicative intentions

Neander and Sartwell, as we saw in the previous chapter, are convinced that pictures often resemble their objects, and they think that these respects of resemblance are quite varied. Abell agrees (Abell 2005a; 2009: 196).2 She departs from Neander and Sartwell by suggesting that these varied resemblances can form the core of an account of depiction. They do not merely work in the service of recognition.
In summary, her view is that a marked surface depicts a giraffe, for example, just in case it shares enough qualities with a giraffe to capture its visual appearance, and it shares those qualities with a giraffe because someone intended thereby to bring giraffes to viewers’ minds, in part because viewers recognize that intention on their part (Abell 2009: 208–10). There are a number of moving parts here, each of which deserves our attention. The three most important notions are capturing the visual appearance of something, bringing it to one’s mind, and recognizing communicative intentions. Let’s unpack the last first.
Representations—images, written sentences, diagrams, graphs, etc.—are tools for communication, created with the intention of bringing something to the minds of an audience. Following Paul Grice’s (1957, 1969) work, Abell notes that the intentions of makers are often reflexive. They intend for others to recognize that they intend to bring something to mind. “Picture makers face the communication problem of getting viewers to bring certain objects to mind, by getting them to note particular respects of resemblance” (Abell 2009: 203). Resemblance is the vehicle whereby things are brought to mind pictorially, according to Abell, and this works partly because the audience recognizes such intentions when viewing pictures. (Pg.55)

While Abell believes pictures get viewers “to note particular respects of resemblance” (2009: 203), she ultimately wants “to remain neutral about the psychological salience of the resemblance relation” (2009: 212). Neander and Sartwell think that resemblances work in the service of recognition, so for them noting respects of resemblance is recognizing the depicted object or aspects of it. There are other options, however. Perhaps we experience pictures as resembling their objects, which is not the same as deploying the ability to recognize those objects in the flesh. This suggestion brings one closer to Hopkins’s view, which we will discuss below. Abell wants to leave open the respects in which pictures resemble their objects as well as the specific psychological state the resemblance relation evokes. It could be recognition, experienced resemblance, or even something closer to Wollheim’s seeing-in. The core point is that pictures bring objects to mind by resembling them as part of a communicative practice. This suffices to distinguish depiction from all other kinds of representation, on her view, and it accommodates a wide diversity of depictive styles (Abel 2009: 212–13).
One could, for example, formulate a recognition view, an experienced resemblance view, a pretense view, or even a structural view within a Gricean communicative frame.4 The virtue of Grice, for Abell, is that he offers a clear path toward involving resemblance in depiction without running afoul of Goodman’s strictures. (Pg.56)

Now that we have some sense of the distinction between make-believe and simple imagination we can go on to ask how pictures might be understood in terms of them.


Kendall Walton (1973, 1990, 2008) developed the pretense account of depiction, inspired by Gombrich’s discussion of play and substitutes in “Meditations on a Hobby Horse” (1951). For Walton, when engaging with a picture, one makes believe that one’s seeing of the picture is a seeing of the things the picture depicts. Literature can inspire the visual imagination too, but pictures are distinctive because when looking at them our seeing is recruited in a special manner: we make-believe that it is the seeing of something else. We don’t make-believe that the seeing of a book’s page is the seeing of the scene it describes.
Make-believe is a surprisingly powerful tool, in Walton’s hands, and his account has proven quite resilient. It is helpful when thinking through pictorial realism, as we will see in Chapter 6, as well as for understanding the role that images play in science, as we will see in Chapter 7. This chapter considers the nature of make-believe, Gombrich’s use of the notion, and then Walton’s development of the idea into an account of pictorial representation.

For the sake of the story, we are often willing to follow the author along any imaginative path she chooses to take, and when we let our own imaginations run wild the results can be quite fantastic

4.1 Make-believe

Make-believe is a distinctive collaboration between our imaginations and the world at large. We can imagine things to be true pretty much at will. For the sake of the story, we are often willing to follow the author along any imaginative path she chooses to take, and when we let our own imaginations run wild the results can be quite fantastic. Walton thinks about the results of such imaginative endeavors as making certain claims fictionally true. It’s fictionally true that birds can talk in a story, for example, and we can count on that playing a role in the rest of the story as we proceed. Perhaps our imaginations are bound by such things as the laws of logic, or more minimally some sense of consistency. We are reluctant to imagine, for example that something is red all over and green all over at once, and we are unsure what to do with a story element that says the bird is both talking and not talking at the same time. Even so, we tolerate inconsistencies in stories from time to time, and Tamar Gendler (2000) has gone so far as to suggest that the right story can get us in the mood to accept logical inconsistencies.
In many cases, what is fictionally true depends just on what we want to be fictionally true. Why is part of the story that the marmot told the prince to turn left at the blue cactus? Because I said so, that’s why. This is quite unremarkable, of course, since something can be fictionally true without being true. Whether something is fictionally true, however, does depend on the world and the way it is. Someone must imagine it to be the case, for example. And whether something is imagined is a matter of what is true in the real world. Sometimes, things become fictionally true relatively independently of our imaginative efforts. For example, let’s say we are playing market and we agree that stones are apples. You show me three stones and say you want to buy them. The presence of three stones in your hand makes it fictionally true that you are asking me to sell you three apples. Once the rule that stones are apples in our market game was in place, the presence or absence of stones can generate fictional truths. This is so even if you, not realizing you are holding three stones, are convinced that you are asking to buy only two apples. Similarly, if you drop two stones, you have dropped two apples, and perhaps even bruised them; in some games, you break it, you buy it. Of course, the presence of an imaginative game in the first place depends on willing participants. What does not need any extra agreement, once the rules are in place, are the fictional truths generated by the disposition of props. The stones in our game are props. It’s fictionally true that the stones are apples. This took some effort on the part of those playing the game. It turns out that it’s also fictionally true that two stones are two apples, a tossed stone is a tossed apple, and a big stone is a big apple. These fictional truths asked little of the game’s participants: they were generated by the disposition of these props.
Walton calls a fictional truth generated in such a way a make-believe truth:
We can now characterize what is make-believedly true as what is fictionally true in virtue of some fact other than anyone’s imagining, or deciding or agreeing to imagine, that it is (really) true, or deciding or agreeing to make it fictionally true. (Walton 1973: 289–90)
The most significant feature of make-believe truths, as opposed to imaginary ones, is the independence they enjoy from what people take to be fictionally true. (Walton 1973: 292)
Games of make-believe lean on the world in a more profound way than simple imaginative games do. We can all be wrong about which is, make-believedly, the largest apple, because we all misjudged the sizes of the relevant stones, for example. Once the rules are in place, the truths are generated largely independently of us.
The rules must be playable. We can’t just decide to make one stone two apples, or two apples one stone, without changing the game a lot, and risking rendering it unplayable. In our game, juggling stones is juggling apples, and looking at stones is looking at apples. Is crushing stones crushing apples? That’s less clear. It’s so easy to crush an apple, but so hard to crush a stone. That act might be outside the bounds of what this game will accommodate. Eating stones is not eating apples. You shouldn’t be eating stones, after all. If it’s important to be able to eat the apples in the game, we will find some other way to make that fictionally true, but not anything goes. Throwing a stone at someone is not a way to eat an apple fictionally; nor is covering it with one’s foot. Covering it after bringing it to one’s mouth and making chomping noises, however, might be perfectly appropriate. Negotiation determines which real actions with props translate into the world of play.
Because of how make-believe truths depend on the world, such games are less open to flights of fancy than purely imaginative endeavors. The gain is that make-believe games are more open to group participation and discovery than purely imaginative ones. It is often understood that props can generate fictional truths—stones are apples—but poorly understood, until the game is played, what the range of such truths can be. In games of make-believe, discovery comes from the use of props. Simple rules for their manipulation are quickly internalized and lead straightforwardly to discovered fictional truths.
Make-believe worlds have a unique combination of advantages. They are enough like the real world to be fun, permitting surprise, suspense, and the thrill of discovery. Yet they can be manipulated in ways that the real world cannot be …. (Walton 1973: 300) (Pg.86)


Naiveté is often the excuse for those who exercise power. For those upon whom that power is exercised, naiveté is always a mistake. –Michel-Rolph Trouillot1

In today’s era of instant information gratification, we have ready access to opinions, rationalizations, and superficial descriptions. Much harder to come by is the foundational knowledge that informs a principled understanding of the world.

Visual culture is frivolous, trivial, indulgent, even incidental, until it is life-altering, traumatizing, violent, and deadly.

The scientific evidence for claims about visual culture in child development might be specious, but a lot of time, money, energy, and emotion are spent—and historically have been spent—crafting the perfect visual environments so that children can grow to be the adults their parents want them to be. This preoccupation reveals both a hopefulness for and significant anxiety about the power of the visual. There is no end of examples of how visual objects have been used to influence, narrate, hide, and reveal. As a child’s environment is arranged to exhibit the parents’ values and to mirror parental identities, so, too, is our larger visual culture curated to create desired outcomes.
That’s a lot of passive-voice verb use. Who is curating that “larger visual culture” and what, exactly, are the desired outcomes?

An optimist might also look at visual culture as an opportunity to seed the world with good ideas and creativity, and to mitigate antisocial behaviors. This is exactly what parents try to do with a baby’s visual environment—make it a place where a baby can thrive, in the ways a parent values and recognizes.

Visual culture is never neutral, and is thus never without value. Visual culture is power. As historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot might say, none of us can afford to be naive and just hope for the best where visual culture is concerned. The visual always means something.

WE&P by: EZorrilla.

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