The Intentionalist Argument?

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Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2013 07:43 pm
Stumped here by the logic or missing logic, I'm not sure.

Intentionalists believe that we can suspend our own presuppositions in the present to recover meaning from the past.

The author is here discussing the interpretation of meaning from the Intentionalist premises. In particular the premise that meaning, and the past, exist in some kind of atomic/isolated way. We humans can be somewhat objective about all this by setting aside our own presuppositions. But then they go on to say this (intentionalist's view or the authors logic?) impacts our view of meaning in the past and "If so, how is it possible to argue that one has to suspend one’s own presupposition in order to understand meaning in its objective nature?"

I don't really follow this logic of the author's complaint.

So I tried a thought experiment. I say that in the present, this table means, objectively for the purposes of the experiment, that I have a surface to put things on. But, the author says two things I still don't get.
1. this present view warps any attempt to get at what the table may have meant in the past (that instead of being a surface to put things on, it may have been a art object, or a barrier I can turn over if fired upon, or a wall to guide people through an area or whatever). So that somehow my view of the table as a surface to put things warps my view of getting at any of the past ways the table meant something to someone. Well, ok, I can psychologically get that, cognitive dissonance, we have one view and so are likely to first investigate similar views -but I have a feeling that is not what the Intentionalists are getting at.
So the first question is how the author means "Their presupposition that meaning must be understood in its atomic (isolated) character affects their understanding of past meaning."

2. The author then concludes that this causes a paradox because: "If so, how is it possible to argue that one has to suspend one’s own presupposition in order to understand meaning in its objective nature?"

What I don't get here may be obvious to someone - hopefully just a mind glitch on my part. What is the problem with isolated meaning (meaning different in the past and present?) causing this problem of accessing (a) truth by suspending one's own presuppositions?

Thanks for any help with this!

text from :

http://www.crvp.org/book/Series02/IIA-5/introduction.htm

"The intentionalist argument for the possibility of suspending one’s own horizon presupposes that the reality of history is not a constitutive property of human understanding and of horizon. Even though meaning is dependent on perspective, this does not mean that the human mind is historically conditioned. The human mind (individual consciousness) has a privileged (distant) standpoint with respect to the reality of history and language conventions. It transcends the boundary drawn by tradition (social consciousness).

"In holding this the intentionalist arguments accept the priority of the individuality of the human being over its social character. We find the same presupposition behind the idea of method. The application of method in human sciences is based on the assumption that the object to be investigated exists essentially in its individual or atomic character.

"However, this assumption reflects the paradoxical situation in the intentionalist or objectivist perspectives with respect to meaning. Their presupposition that meaning must be understood in its atomic (isolated) character affects their understanding of past meaning. If so, how is it possible to argue that one has to suspend one’s own presupposition in order to understand meaning in its objective nature?

Thanks for any help!

Sarah
 
 

 
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