A Plea for Emoji

American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter (2018)
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It’s interesting and a bit surprising how little attention philosophy has given to the status of emoji, those funny little symbols that punctuate text messages, Twitter, and other digital spaces. They have become ubiquitous, but maybe because they’re seen as frivolous or a “lower” form of communication, philosophy hasn’t paid them much mind. But they are an interesting aesthetic phenomenon. They are part language, part representational image. They are phenomenologically interesting in their effect on how we experience the written word. They punctuate, accentuate, emphasize, and add flavor to our communication in ways that are difficult to achieve otherwise. It would not be ridiculous to say that they represent a genuine linguistic development—a change in conventional orthography, and of an almost unbelievably sudden and dramatic, even revolutionary, kind.

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Alex King
Simon Fraser University


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