Christina Ljungberg, Iconicity in Cognition and Communication

Iconicity is fundamental to creative processes of reasoning such as modelling. We use models not only to orient ourselves in the physical world surrounding us but also as ways to sketch out problems by “mapping them,” describe processes, or make decisions by using models such as diagrams, maps, or schemata. Mental images are icons, and icons can lead to new and rare insights and to the discovery of relations that would not be recognized without their iconic representation. Discussing the relationship between modelling, reasoning, and creativity, this contribution argues that iconicity is essential to reasoning, communication and mutual understanding, besides being inherently performative. The paper demonstrates its argument with examples from picture viewing, map reading, and mental diagrams in verbal language.

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