The metaphor and the iconic attitude

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This paper discusses visual metaphors and aspects of similarity in relation to metaphors. The concept of metaphor should here be understood as a semiotic unit that is also a sign (cf. Ricœur, P. 1986. The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-Disciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning in Language. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.). This implies that not all semiotic units are signs, but also that not all signs are typical metaphors. The metaphor is a particular kind of sign because of its making use of the openness present in similarity relations. Metaphorical meaning making is related to a quality of vagueness in iconic sign relations. Furthermore, a notion of iconic attitude is proposed as a designation of subjective and intersubjective perspectives that might be taken on meanings founded on similarity. The iconic attitude mirrors the flexibility of thought and responds to the potentiality of vagueness in iconic sign relations; but, at the same time, the iconic attitude works as a stabilizing factor for meaning. Moreover, this attitude is crucial for the specification of the similarity relation in an actual sign experience with an iconic ground.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalCognitive Semiotics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Languages and Literature (602)


  • metaphor
  • semiotics
  • similarity
  • visual


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