Luigi Lobaccaro Martina Bacaro

What is in the Mirror? On Mirror Self-Recognition, Semiotics, and Material Engagement

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This paper offers a cognitive semiotic account of the emergence of meaning in the infant’s aesthetic experience with mirrors. What is there in the mirror when infants look at themselves? How they develop the ability to recognize their mirror image? Starting from Eco’s theory about the pre-semiotic status of mirror image, we will consider his position about mirroring as all-or-nothing experience and the problematic notion of threshold phenomena (Sec. 2). We will look at cognitive sciences to show that Mirror Self-Recognition (MSR) is a gradual process(Sec. 3), and we will focus on it through the Material Engagement Theory in order to understand how it is possible to move from the oblivious­ness of the mirror to self-recognition (Sec. 4). We can understand the threshold phenomenon of mirroring if only we consider mirrors as a practice in which we «experience-with» them, and not as something we «experience-of» (Matteucci 2019; Koukouti and Malafouris 2021) (Sec. 5).


  • Mirror Self-Recognition
  • Cognitive Semiotics
  • Material Engagement Theory
  • Aesthetic Experience
  • Semiotics of the Mirror


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