T 66 interpretive concepts practice are identified

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T 66 INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS practice are identified. (The equivalent stage in literary in - terpretation is the stage at which discrete novels, plays; and so forth are identified textually, that is, the stage at which the text of Moby-Dick is identified and distinguished from the text of other novels.) I enclose preinterpretive in quotes because some kind of interpretation is necessary even at this stage. Social rules do not carry identifying labels. But a very great degree of consensus is needed— ^perhaps an interpretive community is usefully defined as requiring consensus at this stage if the interpretive attitude is to be fruitful, and we may therefore abstract from this stage in our analysis by presupposing that the classifications it yields are treated as given in day-to-day reflection and argument. Second, there must be an interpretive stage at which the interpreter settles on some general justification for the main elements of the practice identified at the preinterpretive stage. This will consist of an argument why a practice of that general shape is worth pursuing, if it is. The justification need not fit every aspect or feature of the standing practice, but it must fit enough for the interpreter to be able to see himself as interpreting that practice, not inventing a new one. Finally, there must be a postinterpretive or reforming stage, at which he adjusts his sense of what the practice really requires so as better to serve the justification he ac - cepts at the interpretive stage. An interpreter of courtesy, for example, may come to think that a consistent enforcement of the best justification of that practice would require people to tip their caps to soldiers returning from a crucial war as well as to nobles. Or that it calls for a new exception to an estab - lished pattern of deference: making returning soldiers ex - empt from displays of courtesy, for example. Or perhaps even that an entire rule stipulating deference to an entire group or class or persons must be seen as a mistake in the light of that justification.'^ Actual interpretation in my imaginary society would be much less deliberate and structured than this analytical structure suggests. People s interpretive judgments would be
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INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS 67 more a matter of seeing” at once the dimensions of their practice, a purpose or aim in that practice, and the post- interpretive consequence of that purpose. And this seeing would ordinarily be no more insightful than just falling in with an interpretation then popular in some group whose point of view the interpreter takes up more or less automati - cally. Nevertheless there will be inevitable controi^sy, even among contemporaries, over the exact dimensions of the practice they all interpret, and still ^more controversy about the best Justification of that practice. For we have already identified, in our preliminary account of what interpretation is like, a great many ways to disagree.
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