Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

Walton on Tranparency

Added on by jay odenbaugh.

Kendall Walton writes, 

Timothy H. O’Sullivan, Death on a Misty Morning, 1883

Timothy H. O’Sullivan, Death on a Misty Morning, 1883

With the assistance of the camera, we can see not only around corners and what is distant or small; we can also see into the past. We see long deceased ancestors when we look at dusty snapshots of them. To view a screening of Frederic Wiseman’s Titicut Follies (1967) in San Francisco in 1984 is to watch events which occurred in 1967 at the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Photographs are transparent. We see the world through them... My claim is that we see, quite literally, our dead relatives themselves when we look at photographs of them. (71) 

Question: Is Walton right that we can literally see things that don't currently exist through photographs?