<epistemology, aesthetics> 1. in epistemology, representationalism is the view that the only things we can know are our representations of the world (e.g., ideas, perceptions, beliefs, etc.), not the world itself. Epistemological representationalism is therefore opposed to realism, especially to direct realism. The term is most often used in discussions of perception, phenomenalism being the more general term of this sort.
2. in aesthetics, representationalism is the idea that art ought to represent reality. This view is sometimes and especially popularly called realism, at least in the visual arts - in literature, realism is something akin to naturalism. (References from empiricism, formalism, realism, and sensationalism).
[The Ism Book]
Edited by Giovanni Benzi
<philsophical terminology> theory of perception according to which we are aware of objects only through the mediation of the ideas that represent them. Descartes and Locke were both representationalists. Although it handily accounts for perceptual illusion and memory, such a theory often leads (as in Hume) to skepticism about the existence of external objects. Recommended Reading: Robert Audi, Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Routledge, 1998); Hilary Putnam, Representation and Reality (MIT, 1991); Richard A. Watson, Representational Ideas: From Plato to Patricia Churchland (Kluwer, 1995); Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton, 1981); and Ray Jackendoff, Languages of the Mind: Essays on Mental Representation (MIT, 1995).
[A Dictionary of Philsophical Terms and Names]
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