News & Events



Achille Varzi, Columbia University


Mirrors are familiar objects, yet we all have a hard time dealing with them and reasoning about what we see or expect to see on their surface. Common errors include: failing to establish a proper correspondence between real and reflected movements; overestimating the size of our own mirror reflection; expecting the size itself to depend on our distance from the mirror; miscalculating what we can see in a mirror as we approach it or look at it from a side; and, of course, believing that (and wondering why) mirror images are reversed left/right but not up/down. One may ask what psychological factors explain these surprising difficulties, and one may speculate on their philosophical significance (e.g. regarding the opposition between absolute and relational conceptions of space, or the ungroundedness of certain spatial distinctions). But beneath it all there is a deeper question, whose answer may not be the one we think. What is it that we see in a mirror? Do we see enantiomorphic images of ourselves, or do we see ourselves enantiomorphically?


Achille C. Varzi is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, New York (USA). A graduate of the University of Trento (Italy), he received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto (Canada) and has been at Columbia since 1995. His main research interests are in logic and metaphysics, including ontology, mereology, and the philosophy of space and time. A complete list of his publications, along with additional information, may be found on his web site at




Special Date: 16.06.2014

Time: 16:00 h

Location: Cartesium, Bremen


Achille_Varzi_01.pdf118 K