Indoxicate 🧠

False reflections

In this paper I argue that the conviction that mirrors are optical illusions is rooted in a confusion.


Philosophers and psychologists often assume that mirror reflections are optical illusions. According to many authors, what we see in a mirror appears to be behind it. I discuss two strategies to resist this piece of dogma. As I will show, the conviction that mirror reflections are illusions is rooted in a confused conception of the relations between location, direction, and visibility. This conception is unacceptable to those who take seriously the way in which mirrors contribute to our experience of the world. My argument may be read as an advertisement of the neglected field of philosophical catoptrics, the philosophical study of the optical properties of mirrors. It enables us to recast familiar issues in the philosophy of perception.

Maarten Steenhagen (2017). ‘False reflections’. Philosophical Studies, 174: 1227–1242.

All material on Indoxicate is licenced under a CC BY 4.0 licence, unless specified otherwise.