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|All Authors / Contributors:||
E D Hirsch
|Description:||xiv, 287 p. ; 23 cm.|
|Contents:||In defense of the author. --
Meaning and implication. --
The concept of genre. --
Understanding, interpretation, and criticism. --
Problems and principles of validation. --
Appendix I. Objective interpretation. --
Appendix II. Gadamer's theory of interpretation. --
Appendix III. An excursus on types.
|Other Titles:||Validity in interpretation|
|Responsibility:||[by] E.D. Hirsch, Jr.|
|Local System Bib Number:||
The object of interpretation is textual meaning in and for itself and may be called the meaning of the text. The object of criticism, on the other hand, is that meaning in its bearing on something else (standards of value, present concerns, etc.), and this object may therefore may be called the significance of the text. If textual meaning itself could change, contemporary readers would lack a basis for agreement or disagreement. No one would bother seriously to discuss such a protean object. The interpreter has to distinguish what a text implies from what it does not imply; he must give the text its full due, but he must also preserve norms and limits. For hermeneutic theory, the problem is to find a principle for judging whether various possible implications should or should not be admitted. By classifying the text as belonging to a particular genre, the interpreter automatically posits a general horizon for its meaning. The genre provides a sense of the whole, a notion of typical meaning components. Thus, before we interpret a text, we often classify it as casual conversation, lyric poem, military command, scientific prose, occasional verse, novel, epic, etc. The interpreter's job is to specify the text's horizon as far as he is able, and this means, ultimately, that he must familiarize himself with the typical meanings of the author's mental and experiential world. Hermeneutics must stress the reconstruction of the author's aims and attitudes in order to evolve guides and norms for construing the meaning of the text. Ambiguity or, for that matter, vagueness is not the same as indeterminateness. This is the crux of the issue. To say that verbal meaning is determinate is not to exclude complexities of meaning but only to insist that a text's meaning is what it is and not a hundred other things. Taken in this sense, a vague or ambiguous text is just as determinate as a logical proposition; it means what it means and nothing else.
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