By Malcolm Heath
How may still I interpret a classical textual content? although I interpret it, another person will so do in a different way, or even the character of the interpreter’s activity is an issue of dispute; consensus isn't really a pragmatic prospect. Malcolm Heath sees the inevitability of such disagreements, now not as an issue to be deplored, yet as a positive strength, instantaneously an important a part of the method of enquiry and a mirrored image of the unending variety of the questions that curiosity the readers of classical texts. therefore he argues for an method of interpretation that's theoretically reflective and devoted to an open-ended, but carefully severe, pluralism. opposed to that heritage he examines a number matters in literary thought, together with the character and value of authorial goal, the relevance of context and reception, and the prospect and cost of traditionally orientated interpretation.
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Additional info for Interpreting Classical Texts (Duckworth Classical Essays)
Let us concede for the moment that the language I speak determines what I can say. It does not determine what I do say. People who speak the same language say different things. So language alone is not sufficient to explain the particularity of my linguistic behaviour; it cannot be language alone that creates me. The fact that I acquired a language in the first place confirms this. The acquisition of a first language is an extraordinarily complex business; so I existed, and possessed sophisticated cognitive capacities, before I had a language.
This line of argument does not assume that the author individually, or the author's intentions as such, are our primary interest. The point is simply that in order to answer the questions in which we are primarily interested we may first have to address questions in which authorial intention is implicated. A classicist might reasonably have an interest in understanding the society or culture of a particular ancient community. That is not primarily an interest in any author's intentions, but the evidence we need to satisfy that interest may depend on the answers to intentionalist questions, since failure to take account of intentions may invalidate the answers we infer to other kinds of question.
What intentionalism does imply is that in understanding an action reference to intention cannot be wholly displaced in favour of its socially determined features. Consider again the case of someone who sits in the chair at the head of the table and says 'I declare this meeting open'. If we add that the person is not entitled to chair the meeting, this might be seen as a counterexample to an intentional theory of meaning; in this case (it might be argued) it is a social fact that determines the meaning of the act, not the intention.