More pipe philosophy

On the Philosophy Matters Facebook page, this take on Magritte’s The Treachery of Images (which comes up on this blog every month or so):

The rant here responds, more or less appropriately, to a particularly dim-witted interpretation of Magritte’s text “This is not a pipe”, that Magritte was saying that the thing in the painting isn’t a pipe, but a representation of a pipe, which would involve a misunderstanding of way various referential expressions are used: definite personal pronouns (like it) and demonstratives (like this and that), in particular.

Pointing at a portion of a photograph,

A asks B: “What’s this/that?”

B replies: “It’s/That’s ¬†a ¬†picture / representation / image / … of a pipe.”

B’s reply is not just pedantic, but inappropriate, uncooperative — a cooperative reply would be “It’s/That’s a pipe” — because A isn’t asking about an image, but about whatever the image is an image of.

Note: the Philosophy Matters page collects images and texts from all over and doesn’t endorse any particular point of view by doing so. It is totally cavalier about crediting its sources, however. (It’s posted a Roz Chast cartoon from the New Yorker, for instance, without crediting the artist or the magazine.) So the Magrittean rant is something the page is merely passing on. It appears on other pages too, also without credit to a source. I don’t know who wrote the original text.


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