In recent years scholars from many disciplines have become interested in the "construction" of the human senses—in how the human environment shapes both how and what we perceive. Taking a very different approach to the question of construction, Sites of Vision turns to language and explores the ways in which the rhetoric of philosophy has formed the nature of vision and how, in turn, the rhetoric of vision has helped to shape philosophical thought. The central role of vision in relation to philosophy is evident in the vocabulary of the discipline—in words such as "speculation," "observation," "insight," and "reflection"; in metaphors such as "mirroring," "perspective," and "point of view"; and in methodological concepts such as "reflective detachment" and "representation." Because the history of vision is so pervasively reflected in the history of philosophy, it is possible for both vision and thought to achieve a greater awareness of their genealogy through the history of philosophy.
The fourteen contributors to Sites of Vision explore the hypothesis that the nature of visual perception about which philosophers talk must be explicitly recognized as a discursive construction, indeed a historical construction, in philosophical discourse.