Beyond Mimesis and Nominalism: Representation in Art and Science

Date: June 22 – 23, 2006
Venue: London, England

A conference co-sponsored by the Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum, the London School of Economics, and the Institute of Philosophy of the University of London, seeks to open conversations between and beyond compartmentalized traditions of thinking about representation in the philosophy of science and the visual arts. According to dominant accounts, scientific representation is explained by appeal to mimetic relationships such as similarity or formal relations like isomorphism. As these views have been subjected to increasing criticisms, recent approaches to scientific representation have begun to draw upon analogies with artistic representation. Significantly, parts of this emergent literature have turned to a “nominalist” position, not unlike that advocated by Nelson Goodman in his writings on representation in art. But, a similar turn is already apparent within studies of visual art, where scientific representations are increasingly integrated into the analysis of art.

We particularly seek submissions that explore the “how” of representation-papers that can enrich our understanding of the techniques employed in scientific representation and/or address their semantic structures or historical convergences with artistic practices – and vice versa. Also especially encouraged are papers that critique, historicize or defend the conference’s central terms of mimesis and nominalism, or offer approaches to representations that navigate a middle course between them. Send queries and abstracts of up to 1000 words to: