Re: Information

From: Douglas Brooker (
Date: Thu May 03 2001 - 19:31:43 BST

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    William Benzon wrote:

    > > This is what I call the Intentional Fallacy (in reverse homage to
    > > Dennett).
    > FWIW, this term has an established use among aestheticians and literary
    > critics. I believe it was coined by Monroe Beardsley, but am not sure. In
    > this context the Intentional Fallacy is the notion that an author's (or
    > artist's) stated intention about a literary work is to be taken at face
    > value as a statement of what the work means or is about.
    > The idea was adopted by the so-called New Critics (after WWII) and was
    > intended to counter biographical approaches to literary criticism. The New
    > Critics believed that the text itself contained all you needed to formulate
    > a valid interpretation.

    In law, one response to the issue is to say that the 'author' of the text is
    the worst person to interpret it because they will describe what they meant
    rather than what they said.

    Thomas Mann's account of writing The Magic Mountain, or Rilke's description of
    writing the Duino Elegies, suggest the idea of 'author's' intent may be more
    the creation of literary critics.

    I like Luhmann's idea that the whole of society is the author of its laws. For
    its collective emphasis, it is a good contrast to the emphasis on the
    individual seen in the US practice of naming bills after their congressional
    sponsors (when in fact they were 'written' by anonymous legislative drafters.)
    (cf the symphonies of Mahler and others which are elaborate variations on
    'folk' songs. who was the author of the folk songs Mahler used?)

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