Spatial diagrams and geometrical reasoning in the theater

Irit Degani-Raz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article offers an analysis of the cognitive role of diagrammatic movements in the theater. Based on the recognition of a theatrical work's inherent ability to provide new insights concerning reality, the article concentrates on the way by which actors' movements on stage create spatial diagrams that can provide new insights into the spectators' world. The suggested model of theater's epistemology results from a combination of Charles S. Peirce's doctrine of diagrammatic reasoning and David Lewis's theoretical account of the truth value of counterfactual conditionals. I argue that in several theatrical works - in particular those whose central image is dominated by movements - the relation of what Lewis names "comparative overall similarity"between the fictional and the actual world is based on diagrammatic homology. The cognitive process involved in deciphering them is, hence, based on diagrammatic reasoning. The main emphasis of the analysis is on the previously unnoticed but important cognitive role of observation in the theater: the idea that observation takes an active role in the reasoning process that enables the spectators to form new knowledge about their actual world. Samuel Beckett's plays Quad and Come and Go serve here as case studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-200
Number of pages24
Issue number239
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Peirce's theory of diagrams
  • Quad and Come and Go
  • dramatic logic
  • theater's epistemology


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