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Sull’iconismo. Tra Charles S. Peirce e Umberto Eco

Ciclo di incontri “Temi echiani”

22/05/2019 dalle 15:00

Dove Centro Internazionale di Studi Umanistici “Umberto Eco” – via Marsala 26, Sala Rossa

Contatto di riferimento

Recapito telefonico per contatti +39 051 20 88032

Partecipanti Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen
Frederik Stjernfelt

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Mercoledì 22 Maggio 2019, h. 15.00

Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen, Eco, Fiction and Paradisiacal Graphs


The apparent inconsistency presented by fiction is that there are things true-in-fiction yet false-in-the-world. This has been grappled by many, including J. Woods and U. Eco. The latter’s earnest answer to whether the slip of paper in Foucault’s Pendulum was indeed a grocery list – “I don’t know” (cf. Auxier 2017) – reveals another option: fiction, orthogonal to the real possibilities of the world, doesn’t permit authors to decide upon such matters, even if they were fully determinate. So how do we deal with logic and reasoning when fiction is at issue? What are the semantic domains, values and representations? This paper discusses the potential of Peirce’s existential graphs to undertake such tasks. In the light of those possibilities, Eco’s dismissal of icons and logical graphs might have been premature: they may be suitable for reasoning about fictions after all, as soon as values are generalized from truth and falsity to “(un)scriptibility” and would start off from highly limited, paradisiacal cases.

Frederik Stjernfelt, Iconicities


Iconicity has been something of an apple of discord in modern semiotics. Structuralists claimed it (almost) did not exist; Umberto Eco famously changed his mind in “Kant and the Platypus”. This talk reviews the issues, going back to the original discussions in Peirce and Morris, arguing that the core of the problem lies in similarity as definition of iconicity. Similarity is devious because visual resemblence seems so easy to understand and process to human beings – while a more general, species-independent understanding of the term is not necessarily easy.