Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sorting out the concept of Image and Idea

In this week's readings, we are presented with two different perspectives regarding image and idea. In his lecture, I.A. Richards states very clearly, "Language and Thought are not-- need I say?-- one and the same" (13). In fact, a good portion of this lecture is dedicated to clarify upon this point. Basically, Richards does not think studying the relationship between images and ideas of a word can answer his question of "How does a word mean?" Richards then says that the question the becomes, "How does an idea (or an image) mean what it does?" Which brings us back to Richards original statement--language and thought are not one in the same.

Kenneth Burke also examines a similar concept in Part II of A Rhetoric of Motives. However, Burke's examination is much different. He begins with a review of the concept of the "imagination" and then moves onto an examination of the "image and idea." It is in the "image and idea" section where Burke's stance really takes shape. For instance, he states, "Seen from this angle, the antithetical relation between image and idea is replaced by partial stress upon the bond of kinship between them. Add the fact that all abstractions themselves are necessarily expressed in terms of weakened and confused images, a consideration which doubtless explains why Aristotle said that we cannot think without images" (90).

From the above quote, I've tried to demonstrate that Burke does not take the same position as Richards. And although I understand both positions, I am jumbled about my thinking of them. Let me explain: From Richards, it makes sense to me that language and thought are not one in the same. Language needs thought to exists, but not vice versa. I'll amend this by saying thought without language may take a different form than with it, but that may be veering off topic.

With Burke, the concept of imagery needed for thinking is interesting as well, especially when you consider it in terms of a persuasive rhetorical device.

I suppose I am still trying to exactly sort out how images relate to ideas and then how those image-ideas relate to meaning...

1 comment:

  1. At times I've thought of image as the content of thought, in situations where thoughts don't seem to have words or language attached to them. Maybe it's possible to imagine something in its own right, such as something that does not yet have a word, like a new invention. Also, children that don't yet know language, maybe they think in pictures initially. There are a lot of ways of conceiving of thought where language might not be a factor, yet it's difficult because so much of life is language-driven that thoughts seem so well connected to language.