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Panofsky: Linear Perspective And Perspectives Of Modernity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests Erwin Panofskys Perspective as Symbolic Form takes inspiration from Ernst Cassirers The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. It discusses the correlation between the development of Renaissance linear perspective and the replacement of the earlier Aristotelian/Platonic model of the cosmos with the aid of a de-centred cosmos of infinite space. The mimetic symbol is the earliest-realised type of cultural expression. For Panofsky, this perspective's sense of distortion and lack of spatial consistency is explained by the eighth theorem of Euclid's Optics according to which the apparent size of objects is determined in relation to visual angles rather than with respect to straightforward linear distances. In conceiving of linear perspective in terms both of modern projective geometry and of subjective transcendentalism, Panofsky signals his own debt to modernity, and especially to Descartes and Kant.

Keywords: Aristotelian/Platonic model; Erwin Panofskys linear perspective; mimetic symbol; modernity



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