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Aesthetic Representation

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Chapter Summary

One of the most lasting misconceptions about Thomas Hobbes's theory of representation is that it is strictly political, and disregards the centrality of representation within the visual arts. Noel Malcolm was the first to identify important commonalities and connections across Hobbes's various writings on representation, with an emphasis on Hobbes's studies of perspectival images, both naturalistic and anamorphic. This chapter looks at this wider pattern of Hobbes's theorising about human thought and action in relation to images and visual fictions of all kinds with a view to exploring Hobbes's understanding of what goes on in representation: by which the author means, its structural dynamics, its double dimension of re-presentation and re-presentation, and the complex type of response it solicits from its publics. Alongside this structural analysis, it also considers Hobbes's keen interest in the powers of visual representation as distinct from more traditional concerns with the pictorial representation of power.

Keywords: perspectival images; theory of representation; Thomas Hobbes



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