Disciplines

Philosophy | Philosophy of Science

Abstract

Heelan has taken a rich philosophical framework and within its categories woven a marvellously detailed and wondrously wide tapestry. That tapestry includes an exciting illumination of Western art and pictorial understanding generally; the sweep of history, scientific and cultural; the enterprise of science and the nature and roles of technology in both science and culture. Heelan's book then has interest at several different levels; in ascending order: there are the specific theses about vision and about science; there is the connecting of philosophy of visual art and philosophy of science; there is Heelan's attempt to set both of these latter fruitfully into an hermeneutic/phenomenological framework. And like any ancient tapestry, it is a book to be savoured for its miniature illuminations, elegant connections across seemingly unrelated weave and surprising reversals of figure and ground, as much as for systematic philosophical argument. I have put the matter this way because, belonging to the Anglo-American analytical tradition as I do, I confess to a certain suspicion of the primacy of first-person, intentional categories which characterise the continental hermeneutic/phenomenological traditions at bottom.