Icon, Index & symbol

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











carrier of the message (sound image, artwork, object)
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
= when the signifier resembles the signified; a sign that physically resembles what it stands for
= 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
= arbitrary, conventional relationship between signifier and signified































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