Re: intersubjectivity

Tim A. Connor (
Mon, 28 Apr 1997 17:31:08 -0700 (PDT)

On Mon, 21 Apr 1997, Gary F. Blanchard wrote:

> Would you agree that a synonym for 'symbol' is 'icon'?

I'm not sure how "icon" is used generally--it isn't really in my
psychological vocabulary. But I would be inclined to use it in reference
to a specific type of symbol, rather than as a synonym for "symbol"
generically. An icon would be a simple symbol that serves as a vehicle
for a complex array of conceptions, as the Eastern Orthodox images of
saints from which the word derives are deliberately simplified (little
detail, deliberately painted without perspective) in order that they will
not be taken as "representations"; yet they serve as vehicles for complex
attitudes, moods, and motivations by functioning as a sort of mnemonic, a
kind of visual mantra that invokes religious devotion. ON a more mundane
level, the simple icons on a computer screen that stand for all the
complexities of the software. Symbol-conception relationships can be
simple-to-simple (the letter T to a particular phoneme) or
complex-to-complex. I suppose complex to-simple is also possible, but it
would be so uneconomical that I doubt it occurs.

Anyway, that's my idiosyncratic spin on the terminology. I'm willing to
adopt a standard usage if there is one.