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The Power of the Image

Emotion, Expression, Explanation


Edited By András Benedek and Kristof Nyiri

We think primarily in images, and only secondarily in words, while both the image and the word are preceded by the bodily, the visceral, the muscular. This holds even for mathematical thinking. It is the entire motor system, including facial expressions and bodily gestures, that underlies not just emotions but also abstract thought. Communication, too, is a primordially visual task, spoken and written language only gradually supplementing and even supplanting the pictorial. Writing liberates, but also enslaves; after centuries of a dominantly verbal culture, today the ease of producing and accessing digital images amounts to a homecoming of the visual, with the almost limitless online availability of our textual heritage completing the educational revolution of the 21st century.
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← viii | ix → Preface


of the first volume of the Visual Learning series, and have repeated and updated that narrative in the second volume. On the present occasion let me just point out that turning to research directed at visual education was very much in the tradition of the Department where methods of atypical learning (and, since 2001 or so, in particular methods of learning based on mobile communication, “m-learning”), had for quite some time been intensively studied.

At the fourth conference in our Visual Learning conference series, held on November 15–16, 2013, altogether 31 papers were presented, with submissions having passed a blind peer-review process. The finished papers again underwent blind peer-reviewing. Ultimately, the present volume consists of twenty edited chapters, arranged into five sections.

The first section, From Icon to Diagram, begins with Sybille Krämer’s chapter on what she identifies as a crucial dichotomy in the human sciences: that between word and image, between “the discursive and iconic forms of the symbolic”. However, as she points out, this dichotomy is challenged by such “representational tools” as “writing, tables, graphs, diagrams or maps”. These arise as “a conjunction of language and image”. Krämer calls them the “diagrammatic”, and what she aims at in her paper is to “describe the role that the diagrammatic plays for thinking and understanding”. That role, she suggests, is “to allow imperceptible theoretical objects to become visible and tactile”. One of the main areas of thought Krämer focusses on is that...

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