narrative projects is pleased to present The Mind’s Eye: The Photographs of Derek Parfit, an archive of images captured by one of the most unusual and influential philosophers of our time. This exhibition, the first ever of Parfit’s photographs, will examine his idiosyncratic method and practice, introducing a previously unpublished oeuvre that complicates the legacy of this century’s most original moral philosopher.
What makes me the same person throughout my life, and a different person from you? And what is the importance of these facts? In pursuit of answers to these two questions and their implications for the practice of ethical life, Derek Parfit upturned generations of philosophical work on ethics, rationality, and identity. His two books are widely regarded as among the most important contributions to moral philosophy in the past century, with an early review in The Sunday Times proclaiming “something close to a work of genius.” Precognizant of his own impact, Parfit writes in 1984: I believe that most of us have false beliefs about our own nature, and our identity over time, and that, when we see the truth, we ought to change some of our beliefs about what we have reason to do. (Reasons and Persons, p. 281, 1984)
Parfit was also a prolific and sophisticated photographer, returning each year for decades to St. Petersburg and Venice to capture images of architecture, water, fog, and light. With a painterly sensibility and an uncommon feeling for color, Parfit's photographs provide compelling new insights into his philosophical work, and reveal a sensitive and finely developed aesthetic neither published nor exhibited during his lifetime.