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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

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Volume 2019, Issue 229


Diagrams and mental figuration: A semio-cognitive analysis

Per Aage Brandt / Ulf Cronquist
Published Online: 2019-05-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2018-0001


We all intuitively know what a diagram is, and still it is surprisingly difficult to describe it as a semiotic function or type. In this article, we present four groups of hypotheses in view of a clarification. We hypothesize: (1) That diagrams are signs of a distinct type, unknown to classical semiotics; (2) That the elementary graphs of a diagram are all derived from lines and points in topological mental spaces. The mind applies these diagrammatic spaces to referential spaces in many ways, but basically through conceptual integration (blending). The mind blends topology and reference, which makes the topology unnoticeable; (3) That elementary diagrammatic graphs constitute a natural, phenomenological, spatiotemporal, figurative and dynamic but informal geometry in the embodied, thinking mind; (4) That diagrammatic signs are the active components of the abstract mental figuration in working memory that accompany perception and deliver the schematizing ideas which invest and connect our categories and construe proper descriptive, narrative, patterns of inferential thought and programs of sensorimotor and social action.

Keywords: sign models; diagrams; cognitive schemas; dynamic topologies; mental spaces; language


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About the article

Published Online: 2019-05-21

Published in Print: 2019-07-26

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2019, Issue 229, Pages 253–272, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2018-0001.

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