LAW
LAW214-LAWS805_TBa_45-86.pdf

I shall try to show next that if we do take the goal

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I shall try to show, next, that if we do take the goal of artistic interpretation to be discovering an author s intention, this must be a consequence of having applied the methods of con - structive interpretation to art, not of having rejected those methods. I shall argue, finally, that the techniques of ordi - nary conversational interpretation, in which the interpreter aims to discover the intentions or meanings of another per -
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INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS 55 son, would in any event be inappropriate for the interpreta - tion of a social practice like courtesy because it is essential to the structure of such a practice that interpreting the practice be treated as different from understanding what other par - ticipants mean by the statements they make in its operation. It follows that a social scientist must participate in a social practice if he hopes to understand it, as distinguished from understanding its members. ART AND THE NATURE OF INTENTION Is artistic interpretation inevitably a matter of discovering some author s intentions? Is discovering an author s inten - tions a factual process independent of the interpreter s own values? We start with the first of these questions, and with a guarded claim. Artistic interpretation is not simply a matter of retrieving an author s intention if we understand “inten - tion to mean a conscious mental state, not if we take the claim to mean that artistic interpretation always aims to identify some particular conscious thought wielding its baton in an author s mind when he said or wrote or did what he did. Intention is always a more complex and problemati - cal matter than that. So we must restate our first question. If someone wants to see interpretation in art as a matter of re - trieving an author s intention, what must he understand by an intention? That revised first question will reshape the sec - ond. Is there really so sharp a distinction as the objection supposes between discovering an artist s intention and find - ing value in what he has done? We must first notice Gadamer s crucial point, that inter - pretation must apply an intention.^ The theater provides an illuminating example. Someone who produces The Merchant of Venice today must find a conception of Shylock that will evoke for a contemporary audience the complex sense that the figure of a Jew had for Shakespeare and his audience, so his interpretation must in some way unite two periods
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56 INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS of consciousness” by bringing Shakespeare s intentions for - ward into a very different culture located at the end of a very different history.® If he is successful in this, his reading of Shylock will probably be. very different from Shakespeare s concrete vision of that character. It may in some respects be contrary, replacing contempt or irony with s'ympathy, for example, or it may change emphasis, perhaps seeing Shy- lock s relation to Jessica as much more important than Shakespeare, as director, would have seen it.^ Artistic inten - tion,
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