We stopped in discussing what imitation has to do with representation and will now go on with an ambiguity in language that interferes the understanding on Goodman’s general topic. In the 5th chapter fictions we’re told that there is a possibility of denotation without representation, although we were told otherwise in the past. Just at first view we’re told like that, because the thing Goodman wants us to see is, that there are different meanings of the word or term to “represent a …” Paintings that denote to a ficticious object do not denote, though Goodman calls this a null denotation. Instead he tells us that there is another thing next to representation, we have to consider, classification. We are classifying pictures and things and call a picture that can be classified as a unicorn-picture a picture that represents a unicorn.
Thus in Goodman’s categories this isn’t straight enough because of the ambiguity that is evoked with the term of representation. The fact “that pictures are indeed sorted with varying degrees of ease into” (p. 24) different categories is though “unaffected by the difficulty […] of framing definitions for the several classes or eliciting a general principle of classification” (ibid.). Goodman suggests that “where we cannot determine whether a picture denotes anything or not, we can only proceed as if it did not” (p. 26). Though this problem is not yet discussed quite clearly we have to stop here and look at the following 6th chpater to come. For Goodman will state there another category of respresentation-as, what is meant to be just a term for the process of being a picture of a particular category.
Goodman, Nelson, 1976: The Languages of Art. An Approach to a Theory of Symbols. 2nd ed., Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing.