Iconic attitude and how similar is similarity

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Pictures and other visio-spatial signs with iconicity diverge in expression, and in how they operate on meaning. Like all signs, pictures are polysemous (Groupe µ 1992) and have several layers of meaning - such as being perceptual objects and signs, having pragmatic and contextual meanings etc. (Medin et al 1993; Tversky 1977). Pictures also rely on iconic meaning (Sonesson 1989). Similarity is a predominant feature in iconic signs – however similarity is not a single kind of relationship. The relevance of similarities differs. Sometimes, but not always, perception of similarities is tightly coupled to the conception of a sign relation. Important in this presentation, is the point that via the sign relation one may gain insight into structurally different organizations of similarity relations. A concept of Iconic Attitude (Lenninger 2019) is presented and discussed as a Phenomenal outlook that responds to the qualities in the iconic ground and thus may “manifest” a visual generalization in a specific sign perception.

Goodman, N. 1972. Seven strictures on similarity. In Problems and projects, 437–446. Indianapolis/New York: Bobbs-Merrill.

Groupe µ (1992). Traité du signe visuel. Pour une rhétorique de l'image. Paris: Seuil.

Medin, D. L, Goldstone, R. L., & Gentner, D. (1993). Respects for Similarity. Psychological Review, 100(2), 254-278.

Lenninger, S. (2019). The metaphor and the iconic attitude. Cognitive Semiotics, 12(1).

Sonesson, G. (1989). Pictorial Concepts: inquiries into the semiotic heritage and its relevance to the interpretation of the visual world. Lund University Press: Lund.

Tversky. A. (1977). Features of similarity. Psychological Review, 84(4), 327-352.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventVisual Semiotics goes cognitive;12th Conference of the International Association for Visual Semiotics -
Duration: 1980-Jan-01 → …


ConferenceVisual Semiotics goes cognitive;12th Conference of the International Association for Visual Semiotics
Period80-01-01 → …

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Other Humanities (605)
  • Philosophy, Ethics and Religion (603)
  • Psychology (50101)


  • iconic attitude
  • picture
  • semiotics

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