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poldyb in theoryishotcrew

I did (not) mean it

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

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intentionally fallacious?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.