Saturday, February 23, 2013

# 61 The Intentional Fallacy

Monroe Beardsley (with moustache)

Idea number 61 from Crofton is The Intentional Fallacy

If you have enjoyed a Garry Glitter song but are unsure if this is okay there is a get out for you as you can see at the Academy website The Intentional Fallacy gives you this exemption.

To précis  the work    written by  William  Wimsatt Junior and Monroe  Beardsley in 1946

at the time of writing  literary criticism was heavily reliant on an author-biography approach.  Wimsatt and Beardsley suggested a 'new' idea that for literary works arguments about interpretation are not settled by consulting the oracle that is the author.  The meaning of the work is not what the writer had in mind at some moment during composition of the work, or what the writer thinks the work means after it is finished, but, rather, what he or she succeeded in embodying in the work. The intentional fallacy is part of the arguments of American New Criticism, which holds that the proper object of literary study is literary texts and how they work rather than authors' lives or the social and historical worlds to which literature refers.  The “intentional fallacy” names the act of delimiting the object of literary study and separating it from biography or sociology.  The meaning resides in the literary work itself, and not in statements regarding his or her intention that the author might make.  These statements become separate texts that may become subject to a separate analysis. 

So what is important is the reader and their interpretation of the work not the writers intention or their view of it once the work is finished.

The Intentional Fallacy  can be applied to other works such as paintings or music.
To go against their views it might be of interest to explain that the two guys were both white Americans born in the early part of the 20th Century.