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Language, reason and education

Studies in honor of Eddo Rigotti


Edited By Giovanni Gobber and Andrea Rocci

Language as reason represents the unifying theme of this multifaceted reflection on Eddo Rigotti’s scientific contribution offered by his students and colleagues on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Spanning argumentation theory, linguistics, psychology, semiotics and communication sciences, the volume reflects Rigotti’s generous personality and his trajectory of semiotician, philosopher, linguist and specialist in argumentation studies. Language as an instrument of communication with semiotic peculiarities is considered at different levels in which it manifests traces of reason at work. This means considering how reality reveals itself by means of language and how the semiotic character of language structures is used by people to enable joint actions and change the natural and social world. Particularly in focus is the realm of argumentation, that is of those joint actions where people exchange reasons in various communities, fora and markets in view of understanding and practical deliberation. To argumentation Eddo Rigotti devoted all his research efforts in recent years, with a keen sense of its intrinsic educational value and a sincere care for fostering the development of the argumentative mind.
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Boris Uspenskij: A possible reflection of the painter (Jan van Eyck) in the Ghent Altarpiece


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A possible reflection of the painter (Jan van Eyck) in the Ghent Altarpiece

BORIS USPENSKIJ, National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow

One of the most famous paintings of Jan van Eyck is undoubtedly “The Arnolfini Portrait” of the London National Gallery (1434) (fig. 1)1. This is also one of the most interesting pieces of art from the point of view of semiotics, because it seems to have several levels of meaning (which is characteristic of Van Eyck). When I was teaching in Lugano, it was natural for me to choose this picture as an object of analysis for my seminar on the semiotics of art.

The painting represents a married couple, who can be recognized as the Italian merchant Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife. They are pictured in a Flemish room (possibly at their home at Bruges); on the wall behind them there is a convex mirror. The reflection in the mirror covers more then what is shown in the painting: in the mirror one can see the two represented figures shown from an opposite viewpoint, contrary to that of the observer. Reflected in the mirror, we see the backs of the married couple, and, besides, in front of these two figures (i.e. deeper in the mirror space) it is possible to see two other men standing in the doorway, who are not represented in the picture (fig. 2). They don’t belong to the represented reality, they are...

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