In Defence of Moderate Actual Intentionalism
Keywords:Contemporary Visual Art, Literary Theory, Interpretation, Intentionalism
The extent to which the artist’s intentions are a relevant consideration in the interpretation of art has long been the subject of critical debate. Initially, I outline the various interpretive positions which have been established, specifically focusing on the debate between hypothetical intentionalism and moderate actual intentionalism. Then I look at some previous test cases which have, as yet, failed to demonstrate a decisive victory for either side. Finally, I offer two new test cases, one from the field of contemporary visual art and the other from literary theory. I argue that the former serves to debunk hypothetical intentionalism and the latter lends support to the moderate actual intentionalist position.
Bailey, B. 2003. ‘A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates’, (New York: Picador)
Beardsley, M. 1958. ‘Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism’, Philosophical Review (70)
Carroll, N. 1992. ‘Art, intention, and conversation’, In Gary Iseminger (ed.), ‘Intention and Interpretation’. Temple University Press.
---- 2000. ‘Interpretation and Intention: The Debate Between Hypothetical and Actual Intentionalism’, in Joseph Margolis and Tom Rockmore (eds), ‘The Philosophy of Interpretation’ (Oxford: Blackwell)
---- 2002. ‘Andy Kaufman and the Philosophy of Interpretation’, in Michael Krausz (ed.), ‘Is There a Single Right Interpretation?’ (University Park: Penn State University Press,
---- 2013. ‘Andy Kaufman and the Philosophy of Interpretation’, (Blackwell Publishing)
Clark, G. 2011. Issue 115, From the Archive: An Interview with Richard Yates
Davies, S. 2006. ‘Authors’ Intentions, Literary Interpretation and Literary Value’, The British Journal of Aesthetics, Volume 46, Issue 3
Gover, K.E. 2012. ‘What is Humpty-Dumptyism in Contemporary Visual Art? A Reply to Maes’, The British Journal of Aesthetics, (Volume 52, Issue 2)
Grice, H.P. 1968. ‘Utterer's Meaning, Sentence-Meaning, and Word-Meaning’
Foundations of Language, Vol. 4, No. 3
Hirsch, E.D. 1967. ‘Validity in Interpretation’ (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press)
Hitchens, C. 2008. ‘Suburbs of Our Discontent’, Atlantic Monthly. Accessed online: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/12/suburbs-of-our-discontent/307131/.
Irvin, S. 2005. ‘The Artist’s Sanction in Contemporary Art’, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 63:4
Iseminger, G 1992. ‘An Actual Intentional Demonstration?’, in Intention & Interpretation, ed. Gary Iseminger, Temple University Press
---- 1996. ‘Actual Intentionalism Vs. Hypothetical Intentionalism’. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism Vol. 54, No. 4
Levinson, J. 1992. ‘Intention and Interpretation: A Last Look’, In Gary Iseminger (ed.), Intention and Interpretation. Temple University Press.
---- 1996. ‘Intention and Interpretation in Literature’, in The Pleasure of Aesthetics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press)
---- 2006. ‘Contemplating Art: Essays in Aesthetics,’ Oxford University Press
---- 2017. ‘Aesthetic Pursuits: Essays in the Philosophy of Art’ Oxford University Press
Livingston, P. 1998. ‘Intentionalism in Aesthetics’ New Literary History, Vol. 29, No. 4, Critics without Schools? (Autumn, 1998)
Maes, H. 2010. ‘Intention, Interpretation, and Contemporary Visual Art,’
The British Journal of Aesthetics, Volume 50, Issue 2.
Martin, N. 2012. Richard Yates Up Close. NC, uSA: McFarland
Naparsteck, M. 2011. ‘Richard Yates Up Close: The Writer and his Works,’ McFarland & Co.
Price, R. 2008. 'Make the bastards pay for it,' Guardian Newspaper, Fri 28 Nov
Sharp, M. 2019. ‘Untitled’, Interviewed by Frederick Thomas Hulbert, 11th April 2019 at the Active Prospects Centre, 29a Shewsbury Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 6BH [Unpublished].
---- 2010. ‘Three Boats’, width 101.6 cm x height 72.6 cm, acrylic paint and sand textured, (reproduced with consent)
---- 2008. ‘Two Faced’, oil paint and oil pastels, width 42 cm x height 29.7 cm, (reproduced with consent)
Stecker, R. 2006. ‘Interpretation and the Problem of the Relevant Intention’, in Matthew Kieran (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art (Malden, MA: Blackwell)
Taylor, P.A. 2014. Meaning, Expression and the Interpretation of Literature, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, (Wiley Blackwell) Vol. 72, No.4
Wimsatt, W. K., & Beardsley, M. C. 1946. ‘The Intentional Fallacy’ The Sewanee Review, 54,
Wittgenstein, L. 1967. ‘Zettel’, Ed. G.E.M Anscombe and G.H. von Wirght, Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe, Basil Blackwell Oxford
Yates, R. 2007. ‘Revolutionary Road’ (London: Vintage Publishing). ‘Back Cover’
Richard Price’s introduction to Revolutionary Road, The Easter Parade, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2009)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. Note: up to volume 4 issue 1, an incorrect copyright line appears in the PDFs of the articles.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).