n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - Chesterton's ontology and the ethics of speculation

Volume 2011, Issue 18
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



This article considers the ontology of the British journalist GK Chesterton with respect to its implications for the interpretation of visual texts, referred to here as the . This exploration takes place under the assumption that Chesterton's ontology, as that which relates to understanding the meaning of things, and his ethics, as that which examines the uses and abuses of things, have a dialogical connection. While Chesterton is not formally considered a philosopher, art historian or visual theorist, it is proposed that his ideas as an post-Victorian cultural commentator remain relevant to visual theory today. Unfortunately, Chesterton does not explicate his ontology systematically; this paper suggests that it may be considered in the light of three interlinking considerations: the riddle, the answer and the romance of being. It is in contemplating the interrelationship between these three considerations of being that specific ethical implications concerning visual interpretation become evident. In order to unpack the finer points of this ethics of speculation, reference is made to a single photograph taken during the South African War, .

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