Construction versus Reality; Use versus Interpretation; Epistemic versus Ontic-Phenomenal
Posted by NT Wrong on September 5, 2008
A) Even if everything is constructed, this does not necessarily mean:
1. That everything is constructed as much as the next thing; or
2. That our constructions do not thereby correspond to reality to some greater or lesser degree.
“If society is an ensemble of texts, are all texts of equal importance, and how can we judge their significance? Is gout less socially constructed than homosexuality?”
– Bryan S. Turner, The Body and Society: Explorations in Social Theory. 3rd Edn: Los Angeles: Sage: 2008: 12.
B) Even if every interpretation of meaning of literary texts involves subjective bias, or use for some further political purpose, this does not necessarily mean:
1. That every interpretation of meaning of literary texts is as valid as the next; or
2. That our subjective uses of a text in any way negate or undermine our interpretations of meaning.
“If I tear out the pages of my Bible to wrap my pipe tobacco in them, I am using this Bible, but it would be daring to call me an interpreter.”
– Umberto Eco, Limits of Interpretation, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990:57.
C) Although we cannot know for certain to what degree our conceptions accord with reality or to what degree our interpretations accord with the allowable range of meanings of a literary text (an epistemic question), this does not alter the logically necessary conclusions in (A) and (B) (ontic-phenomenal questions, not epistemic).
“Where language is concerned, often we cannot know what someone meant or intended by an utterance, but this has no relevance to the question whether there was a definite meaning and intention in his utterance.”
– John R. Searle, ‘Literary Theory and Its Discontents.’ New Literary History 25 (1994): 637-667: 644.
Sometimes I pretend I am Witty, and write as obscurely as he. It makes sense, though.
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