Philosophy 290-4

Fall 2007

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-4 Graduate Seminar: Appearance and Expression Martin W 4-6 283 Dwinelle

Tomatoes have a characteristic look. Some tomatoes lack this look, and other entities – fake tomatoes – can possess the look and thereby mislead someone about what they are. Nonetheless when you see a tomato in plain view you can see it for what it is, a tomato: that something is a tomato would seem to be a perceptible aspect of it. When someone feels resentful, that attitude may be expressed in the way they look at others, how they move, or in the manner of their speech. A skilled actor can mimic such expressions so as to appear resentful too. This doesn’t rule out our coming to know in propitious circumstances that someone is resentful just by looking at them or listening to them. Yet many think that the person’s resentment is not itself a perceptible aspect of the scene: our access to it is mediated through the person’s behaviour or what is expressive of this feeling.

Why should one suppose that there is this difference between the appearance of kinds of fruit and the expressions of feeling or emotion? That is the question we shall be pursuing in this seminar. The aim will be to look at some of the traditional discussions of the problem of other minds; the elusive status of appearance; and the relation between emotional states and their expression.