LAW214-LAWS805_TBa_45-86.pdf

Use of artistic intention is a kind of fraud a

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use of artistic intention is a kind of fraud, a disguise for the interpreter s own views. For the imagined conversation has an important negative role: in some circum - stances an interpreter would have good reason to suppose that the artist would reject a reading that appeals to the in - terpreter. Nor do I mean that we must accept the general claim that interpretation is a matter of retrieving or recon - structing a particular author s intention once we abandon the crude conscious-mental-state view of intention. Many critics now reject the general claim even in a more subtle form, and in the next section we shall have to consider how this continuing quarrel should be u nderstood.j My present jpoint ironlyThaTtlie'aufKbr s-intention claim^ when it be- jcomes a method or a style of interpretation, itself engages an
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58 INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS ^interpreter s artistic convictions: these will often be crucial in Establishing what, for that interpreter, the developed artistic /intention really js, /^_ ■^^We can, if we wish, use Cavell s account to construct a new description of what the citizens of my imaginary com - munity of courtesy are doing in interpreting their social practice, an account that might have seemed preposterous before this discussion. Each citizen, we might say, is trying to discover his own intention in maintaining and participating in that practice not in the sense of retrieving his mental state when last he took off his cap to a lady but in the sense of finding a purposeful account of his behavior he is com - fortable in ascribing to himself. This new description of so - cial interpretation as a conversation with oneself, as joint author and critic, suggests the importance in social interpre - tation of the shock of recognition that plays such an impor - tant part in the conversations Cavell imagines with artists. ( Yes, that does make sense of what I have been doing in taking off my hat; it fits the sense I have of when it would be wrong to do this, a sense I have not been able to describe but can now. Or, No, it does not. ) Otherwise the new de - scription adds nothing to my original description that will prove useful to us. It shows only that the language of inten - tion, and at least some of the point in the idea that interpre - tation is a matter of intention, is available for social as well as artistic interpretation if we want it. There is nothing in the idea of intention that necessarily divides the two types of creative interpretation. But now we reach a more important point: there is some - thing in that idea that necessarily unites them. l^br even if [we reject tfie^fKesis^that creatTve'intefpretatioh aims to dis- I cover some actual historical intention, the concept of inten- ' tion nevertheless provides the formal structure for all interpretive claims. I mean that an interpretation is by na- I ture the report of a purpose; it proposes a way of seeing what lis interpreted a social practice or tradition as much as a text or painting as if this were the product of a decision to
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INTERPRETIVE
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