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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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Recent 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 2022 and is funded by The Research Council of Norway.


  • Keith A. Wilson (2021). Individuating the Senses of ‘Smell’: Orthonasal versus Retronasal Olfaction. Synthese.  ISSN 0039-7857.
  • Solveig Aasen (2020). Depicting Movement. Australasian Journal of Philosophy.  ISSN 0004-8402.
  • Solveig Aasen (2020). Crossmodal Aesthetics: How Dance and Music Can Match. The Philosophical Quarterly.  ISSN 0031-8094.

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  • Keith A. Wilson (2020). Multisensory Perception. Sabah Ülkesi.  ISSN 2195-6456.

View all works in Cristin

Tags: Philosophy, Perception, Representation, Language, Music, Dance, Speech, Rhythm, Aesthetics, Philosophy of mind, Metaphysics
Published Mar. 19, 2018 4:12 PM - Last modified Apr. 29, 2021 11:12 AM