When googling such a thing, I found only the Yin and Yang sign. It was odd to me that this was the only one.

I have seen a pictogram for Stoicism, one of a fire that, in some small way, symbolizes the logos. It should be said that this is a modern invention, one that has nothing to do with the foundation of the school of thought.

Are there other representations of philosophical concepts in pictograms?

  • One interesting question is what deliniates between a philosophical concept and a non-philosophical concept? Religion is full of symbols for philosophical concepts, unless you claim they aren't philosophical because they're religious instead.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 0:20
  • Also, you might be interested to know that there isn't just one rendition of taijitu (the symbol for yin and yang). It has evolved over the centuries to express different feelings.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 0:22
  • Question marks, the statue The Thinker, capital greek phi (in the same way that a psy can represent psychology), really anything having to do with a silhouette of a human head or brain since it implies thought... The old hand signs that were used in classic rhetoric demonstrations to signal what was being spoken at the time and how they appear as Renaissance iconography, although given the recent rise of hand signals being a dog whistle of crypto fascists I may be reluctant to promote them.
    – Not_Here
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 1:56
  • Ouroboros has good a pedigree.
    – sand1
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 16:24
  • I can't think of one, so I'd be curious to see what answers turn up; interestingly, Wittgenstein had a picture theory of language; but no pictures are actually involved. Commented May 5, 2018 at 3:54

4 Answers 4


The mosaic of Torre Anunziata shows a scene of seven philosophers focused on a globe with uranometric lines. Superlatives used to describe the shaira: oldest, most beautiful, greatest in size, wisest, fastest, strongest, most divine


Yes. The Pythagorean Brotherhood have the Pentagram, in India there are kolam which indicates the idea of living together with nature harmoniously, recently there was the creation of a new shape called the Amplituhedron which is being used in physics in place of using 1,000 or so pages of feynman diagrams, and the entire branch of math called Diagrammatic Algebra which uses pictures/diagrams to solve math problems, anything you find by googling Sacred Geometry, and depending on what school all of mathematical and linguistic symbols.

  • 1
    doesn't answer the question... Commented May 3, 2018 at 10:23
  • What do you mean, I said yes?. So I do answer the question.
    – Alexander
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 6:03
  • The amplitudehedron is a mathematical description of a physical quantity in physics and not a philosophical concept; the Pythagoreans used numbers to symbolise the progression from the One - but they're not pictures. Commented May 5, 2018 at 3:46
  • The Pythagorean pentagram is a symbol of the Pythagorean brotherhood itself. It was used additionally as a password for identifying eachother. The amplituhedron has huge significance in philosophy of science and I was not necessarily talking the N=4 special case of the Amplituhedron. I was just talking about the Amplituhedron as in the general case. Studying the geometric properties of the general case Amplituhedron could have significance in philosophy as well as in science.
    – Alexander
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 3:18

Most of what we call philosophy is built around an opposition of the type mind vs body, intellect vs senses etc., so concepts are taken to be the opposite of pictures: they are supposed to be intelligible, not perceptible. Besides this main reason there is also history: christian ideology did not leave much room for schools; also, philosophers are not gregarious nor do they conform to business strategies that use logo-s.

Developing narratives around some simple figure or image is usually taken to be a case of symbolism, not philosophy proper. So the Yin-yang hardly qualifies here or one would have accept the hammer and sickle, the infinity sign and whatnot.


Upon reflection of the criticism leveled in the comments, I'm editing this answer to include the words I initially elided. For clarity, I've bold-faced this edit.

Yes, there are other representations of philosophical concepts in pictograms. Here is one:

I give

the Fibonacci spiral

1,000,000/1,000,000 stars.

It speaks to philosophical ideas like proportionality and beauty. Plus, like, half a dozen other ideas.

  • 2
    doesn't answer the question... Commented May 3, 2018 at 10:23
  • I meant to include something about that being the Fibonacci spiral, but I got all caught up in the tedium of including my first image and forgot. I also think Plato had some kind of golden section(ing) in mind when he described the divided line analogy.
    – simpatico
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 2:04
  • Proportionality and the Fibonacci spiral are a mathematical concepts and not a philosophical concepts. Commented May 5, 2018 at 3:42
  • @simpatico: On that basis you could use the square, the triangle, the oblong, the ellipse, the hyperbola, the ellipsoids, the trapezium as descriptions of philosophical concepts; but of course, you'd be silly to. Commented May 5, 2018 at 3:48
  • In what way are mathematical concepts unrelated to philosophical concepts? I agree that there are philosophical concepts that do not enjoy mathematical representation, but there is no mathematical concept that cannot be traced back to its philosophical roots; it is ahistorical to claim that never the twain meet. Moreover, my answer, and @DavidBlomstrom answer, were not merely mathematical concepts, but we argued that they also symbolized other philosophical concepts. Maybe what you mean is that you just don't assent to our claims, which is, of course, fine.
    – simpatico
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 0:16

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