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Perceiving Representations

A project examining our perception of language, pictures and music.

Beautiful lotus flowers and many colours. Painting.

Illustration: Colourbox

How does representation work?

We perceive representations in language, music and pictures by perceiving the sounds or objects that encode them. But how can perceiving one thing—a painting, for example—enable us to perceive another, e.g. the object depicted, and is there a common structure to our perception of visual and auditory representations?

In this project we draw upon recent philosophical and scientific research to evaluate the hypothesis that there is a common structure to the perception of speech, pictures and music. This affords an extraordinary opportunity to study linguistic, mimetic and musical representation together, and to develop a novel framework for understanding key issues about how representation works.

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News and events

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The project ‘Perceiving Representations: A Study of Structural Commonalities between Language, Pictures and Music’ runs from 2018 to 2023 and is funded by The Research Council of Norway.


  • Wilson, Keith A. (2022). The Temporal Structure of Olfactory Experience. In Young, Benjamin & Keller, Andreas (Ed.), Theoretical Perspectives on Smell. Routledge. ISSN 9781032075884.
  • Wilson, Keith A. (2022). Does Property-Perception Entail the Content View? Erkenntnis: An International Journal of Scientific Philosophy. ISSN 0165-0106. doi: 10.1007/s10670-022-00559-1. Full text in Research Archive
  • Wilson, Keith A. (2022). The Auditory Field: The Spatial Character of Auditory Experience. Ergo - An Open Access Journal of Philosophy. ISSN 2330-4014. In press.
  • Wilson, Keith A. (2022). Windows on Time: Unlocking the Temporal Microstructure of Experience. Review of Philosophy and Psychology. ISSN 1878-5158. doi: 10.1007/s13164-022-00632-2. Full text in Research Archive
  • Wilson, Keith A. (2021). Individuating the Senses of ‘Smell’: Orthonasal versus Retronasal Olfaction. Synthese. ISSN 0039-7857. 199, p. 4217–4242. doi: 10.1007/s11229-020-02976-7. Full text in Research Archive
  • Aasen, Solveig (2020). Crossmodal Aesthetics: How Dance and Music Can Match. The Philosophical Quarterly. ISSN 0031-8094. doi: 10.1093/pq/pqaa049. Full text in Research Archive
  • Aasen, Solveig (2020). Depicting Movement. Australasian Journal of Philosophy. ISSN 0004-8402. doi: 10.1080/00048402.2019.1706590. Full text in Research Archive

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  • Wilson, Keith A. (2021). How Many Senses? Multisensory Perception Beyond the Five Senses. Sabah Ülkesi. ISSN 2195-6456. 66(January 2021), p. 76–79.

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Tags: Philosophy, Perception, Representation, Language, Music, Dance, Speech, Rhythm, Aesthetics, Philosophy of mind, Metaphysics
Published Mar. 19, 2018 4:12 PM - Last modified Sep. 13, 2022 4:44 PM