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poldyb in theoryishotcrew

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What is the role of authorial intention?  And what do you understand by the term "intentional fallacy"? 

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Intentionally Fallacy: My four-year old saying she didn't mean to do it when she clearly did.
intentionally fallacious?
She is definitely that.
I think the author's intent is one means to understand a work. Nothing more, nothing less. That is, no more nor less binding to me as a reader than any other approach to a text.

I don't much care for the phrase "intentional fallacy," because as I understand it (and I have not read W&B), it suggests that focusing on the author's intent is illogical. I just don't like the idea that the author had no logic behind her composition, even if at times I don't care what that logic is.
of course, you raise the question of how we know an author's intent.
In some cases, we have extra-textual sources (introduction, essays, interviews, etc.), where the author writes/speaks of his intentions.
well, what is the value of such sources, in the very rare cases we have them?
I actually like what Fish has to say about this; if we can make claims about intention in a criminal court where lives hang in the balance, why can't we do so when we're interpeting a poem?
recte dixistis, ut opinor, et tu et S. Piscis. Unde autem veniunt haec postulationes de proposita auctoris, id est, quae auctor vult dicere. scilicet magna pro parte ex scriptis, ex opere quod scripsit. ergo nos cum agimus de proposito auctoris, utimur argumentis, ut ita dicam, quasi circulatis (verbo - pro pudor - recentiore uti debui).

sunt sane res quae nos constrictent ne dicamus quidquid volimus, exempli gratia, aetatis auctor.
I understand "intentional fallacy" as a term in literary criticism that tries to displace the author's intended meaning as the most important meaning in a text. But whenever I hear it I also tend to want it to mean "knowingly using a rhetorical fallacy in an argument."

As for what the role of authorial intention is, I'm going to say that it depends on what your intention is. If you want to understand a work for its formal elements, authorial intention should be set aside. But maybe you are more interested in historical context, where the author's intent may intersect with their culture. Or maybe you want an interpretation that accounts for more than one thing. I believe that authors have intentions (perhaps there are a few exceptions) and there's no need to dismiss that completely (thus, I do not like to call it a fallacy), but I don't believe that an author's intended meaning is the One True Meaning.

Edited at 2010-07-03 07:51 pm (UTC)
Are not formal elements part of an authorial choice, and thus, intention?
The formal elements seem to be the most clearly intentional and even fixed. Perhaps it is the actually a way to focus on a fixed det of meanings while pretending not to.
And yet formal elements might be the most predetermined elements in composition. Does the critic use a paragraph structure intentionally? Did Homer use a hexameter as a matter of intention?
That's one reason I think it's silly to call authorial intention a fallacy. However, I can also imagine instances where formal elements work against the author's intentions.
well, I don't think that W&B mean that authorial intention doesn't exist.
See, I wouldn't so much say that the formal elements play against the author as that the author chooses formal elements in order to challenge their fixedness and the reader.
I understand "intentional fallacy" to mean 2 things:

1. That it's even possible, as an act of interpretation, to deduce what a given author's "intention" is / was

and also, simultaneously,

2. That (assuming we could deduce an author's "intention"), this would be of any legitimate use to us within the context of critical analysis.

In my view, the role of authorial intention is almost nil, because as critics we (re)construct every text anyway through our own reading of it.
Is that your understanding of Wimsatt and Beardsley or your own view of the role of intention, for which you use their term?
It what I understand by "intentional fallacy" as it was explained or quoted to me years ago by my advisor and sure, could be from Wimsatt or whoever, but I really don't know.
Basically, I responded to your question from what was in my memory. Possibly it's wrong. But there it is.
The term was originally coined by Wimsatt and Beardsley in the article I put a link up to above (to knut). So, you may be right or wrong in respect to their definition, but that doesn't mean your view of the use of authorial intention is wrong
I'm curious about the epistemic aspect of the question. Several people have suggested in discussion that it may not be possible for us to know what an author's intent was (whether or not we'd have any use for it if we did know). What is the argument for the suggestion that we cannot know what an author's intent was?
know in an infallible way, probably. but I don't understand epistemology myself.
Hmm. But there's virtually nothing that we can know in an infallible way. I don't even have infallible knowledge of my own intention (I might be self-deceptive). But that alone isn't an argument against using my presumed knowledge of my own intentions in making inferences about my behavior or psychology. It just suggests I have to be careful. So it's not clear to me why this point is important.
I didn't think the epistemology of know was important either. You brought it up.