Icon, Index & symbol
 

"Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men." - Plato


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sign
 
 
 
signifier
 
carrier of the message (sound image, artwork, object)
 
signified
 
that which is communicated (concept)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Sanders Pierce
1839 - 1914
 
American logician, mathematician, and philosopher
Educated as a chemist and employed as scientist over 30 years
Only academic appointment was at Johns Hopkins university, where he was a non-tenured lecturer in logic.
After his wife left him, Pierce lived and traveled with his girlfriend.
When an academic competitior discovered and revealed this, Pierce was dismissed and was never able to find academic employment again.
Nonetheless published extensively and is well revered.
Charles Sanders Peirce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pierce's Model of Semiosis

 

representamen = the symbol, the form in which the sign takes

a.k.a. the "sign vehicle"

interpretant = the sense made of the sign
object = what the sign stands for or represents, something beyond the sign to which it refers (a referent)
Pierce Triadic Model of Signs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"A sign addresses somebody, that is, it creates in the mind of that person an evquivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign."
- Pierce
 
Jasper Johns, False Start, 1959.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your representamen (or sign vehicle) of the word, "chair?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your interpretant of the word, "chair?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Kosuth, One and Three Chairs, 1965.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

representamen = red octagonal stop sign
 
interpretant = the idea that cars should stop where the sign is placed
 
object = vehicles halting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

representamen = the form which the sign takes (not necessarily material)
 
interpretant = not an interpreter, but rather the sense made of the sign
 
object = to which the sign refers
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signs and Meaning are unlimited
 
Roman Jakobson explained, for Peirce, "the meaning of the sign is the sign it can be translated into."
 
Umberto Eco further uses the phrase, "unlimited semiosis" to refer to the way in which this can lead (as Peirce was well aware) to a series of successive interpretants (potentially) ad infinitum.
 
Fredric Jameson, then says that the entire system of language lies parrellel to reality....
Magritte, Giaconda, 1953.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In other words...we think in signs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pierce identifies three ways that signs represent objects
   
icon
= when the signifier resembles the signified; a sign that physically resembles what it stands for
index
= non-arbitrary, implied, physical or causal relationship between the signifier and signified; related to the sign it represents, but not in a concrete or direct way
symbol
= arbitrary, conventional relationship between signifier and signified

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Icon
Index
Symbol
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cindy Sherman, Untitled 153, 1985.
Paul Cezanne, Three Skulls, c. 1900.