How can the human mind think about objects outside itself? How is it possible to talk about things that don’t even exist? This week, we’re thinking about reference—specifically, an “opinionated” theory of reference by our dear departed friend, longtime Philosophy Talk host Ken Taylor.
For this month's puzzle, I'm focusing on the human ability to produce and consume fiction. Why do creatures evolved to survive in a harsh reality spend so much time, energy, and effort doing this? And why do we argue with one another about what “really” happened in these various fictional worlds?
Is it wrong to paint someone’s portrait without their consent? Portrait of a Lady on Fire presents this ethical dilemma for an eighteenth century portrait artist. The film is deep on many levels, but one of the most important is how it asks us to think about portraiture, privacy, and consent.
Pictures are so ubiquitous they often fade into the background of conscious experience. But there’s a special magic to pictures. When you see one, you don’t only see some colors on a surface, some marks jumbled together here and there; you see things—maybe bottles, people, or books—in the picture.