On Interpretation

QuadrigaA great many hermeneutical conundrums fall away if one gives up the initial premise that words and language constitute the paradigmatic instance of meaning, expression, and communication. If one begins by recognising that words/language are the least typical instance of the domain constituted by modes of meaning, the way language works follows fairly simply.

This alternate premise will always be unpopular, because most people do not want to understand meaning so much as they want to control interpretation. The myth of subsistent meaning sustains that libido dominandi by positing a point of reference, a Sache, a kernel/pearl/nugget/“real meaning” to which the interpreter can lay claim. Neither “liberal” nor “conservative” scholars will yield on the (non-)existence of subsistent meaning, because all hope that they can deploy it to prove their case against the other.


3 thoughts on “On Interpretation

  1. I can almost grasp what you’re trying to say…but not sure.as a Quaker I try to live in a world of few words with profound meaning. Can you diagram what your saying in your commentary “on interpretation”? “A picture(diagram) is worth a thousand words”. Thanx. C

  2. I take your point entirely, Chuck — one of the many reasons I’ve stalled on writing this all out is that it would work much better as a video clip, or even a walking lecture/tour. If I do produce it on some other medium, I’ll flag it up here.

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