Knowledge of Education

Iconic Sign-Object Relation

According to Peirce (1932):

An Icon is a sign which refers to the Object that it denotes merely by virtue of characters of its own, and which it possesses, just the same, whether any such Object actually exists or not (2:247)….  That is, a quality that it has qua thing renders it fit to be a representamen.  (2:276)


An illustration of a screened porch project in 1993 will hopefully clarify Peirce’s sign-object relationships.  Prior to building the screened porch, Ted Frick imagined it in his mind, similar to the sketch of one of the panels in image below. 


The actual screened porch did not exist yet prior to the summer of 1993, but the idea of it did in Ted’s mind.  The object was a mental image of a possible screen porch that Ted was thinking of building.  He then drew some sketches for the design of the porch.  These sketches were signs representing the object as imagined.  In this case the object of the sign was a mental idea.  These sketches representing the object were iconic signs because they were a likeness that resembled the object (the idea) by virtue of their qualities. 

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