I develop the concept of hypothetical interpretation to give an account of certain problematic interpretive practices within a broadly Gricean framework. These practices attempt to find neither speaker nor linguistic meaning but rather, seek to discover such things as the unconscious beliefs of a text’s producer. In developing the concept of hypothetical interpretation, I consider in particular the question of their plausibility. I show how the plausibility of a hypothetical interpretation can be taken as providing evidence about (...) a speaker’s noncommunicative mental state, and how psychoanalytic interpretive practices and similar “hermeneutics of suspicion” rely upon such evidence. (shrink)
This book is the companion to Difference and Disavowal: The Trauma of Eros (Stanford University Press, 2000), which dealt with the psychoanalytic clinical problem of resistance to interpretation. The key to this resistance is the unconscious registration and repudiation (disavowal) of the reality of difference. The surprising generality of this resistance intersects with Nietzsche's, Heidegger's, and Derrida's understanding of how and why difference is in general the “unthought of metaphysics.” All three see metaphysics engaged with a “registration and (...) repudiation of difference,” and all three rethink interpretation in relation to this question. The synthesis of these theories of interpretation and difference provides the philosophical foundations for a new thinking of how interpretation functions, and is a critical intersection of deconstruction and psychoanalysis. (shrink)
The DSM-V Committee plans to abolish the distinction between Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependence (DSM5.org). The author presents a case report as a proof of concept that this distinction should be retained. The author has asserted that Alcohol Abuse is a purely psychological addiction, while Alcohol Dependence involves capture of the ventral tegmental dopaminergic SEEKING system (Johnson 2003). In psychological addiction the brain can be assumed to function normally, and ordinary psychoanalytic technique can be followed. For the patient described, (...) transference interpretation was the fundamental key to recovery. Alcoholic drinking functioned to prevent this man from remembering overwhelming childhood events; events that were also lived out in his current relationships. Murders that occurred when he was a child were hidden in a screen memory. The patient had an obsessional style of relating where almost all feeling was left out of his associations. After he stopped drinking compulsively, he continued to work compulsively. The maternal transference had to be enacted and then interpreted in order for overwhelming memories to be allowed into conscious thought. After psychoanalysis, the patient resumed drinking and worked a normal schedule that allowed more fulfilling relationships. He had no further symptoms of distress from drinking over a 9 year followup. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to show that statistical analysis and hermeneutics are not mutually exclusive. Although statistical analysis may capture some patterns and regularities, statistical methods may themselves generate different types of interpretation and, in turn, give rise to even more interpretations. The discussion is lodged within the context of a quantitative analysis of dream content. I attempted to examine the dialogical texts of reported dreams monologically, but soon found myself returning to dialogic contexts to make sense (...) of statistical patterns. One could cogently argue that the reported statistical relationships in this study, rather than pointing to any interaction among the "signifieds," speak only to the relationships among the "signifiers" that were being played out through various actors on the analytic or scientific stage, since all of the constructs used in theorizing about, interpreting, and telling dreams come from the same discursive system. (shrink)
This article reassesses the concept of identification in line with the increased importance phenomenology has taken on in film-philosophy of the 1990s and 2000s. In the 1970s and 1980s, a Lacanian psychoanalyticinterpretation of identification dominated film theory and criticism, and spectatorial engagement with elements of films was understood as what psychoanalysis calls secondary identification – the identification with stable subject-positions (characters) in the film-text. But non-Lacanian psychoanalysis and Merleau-Ponty’s existential phenomenology offer film-philosophy a very different understanding of (...) identification as a non image-based, ‘blind’, bodily affective tie that is established between spectators and what Vivian Sobchack describes as ‘the sense and sensibility of materiality itself’ (Sobchack 2004, 65). By first exploring how this more bodily (for psychoanalysis, primary ) identification is theorized by psychoanalysts (Freud, Paul Schilder, Henri Wallon) and by film theorists (Kaja Silverman), the article proposes that film criticism make greater use of it in order to engage more meaningfully with the visible cultural specificities – size, skin colour, age, sex – of the images of bodies viewed on cinema screens. It is not just ‘the’ body that needs bringing back into thinking about film spectatorship, but culturally differentiated bodies , both on the screen and in the auditorium. A psychoanalytic and phenomenological film criticism of embodied cultural identity, one that attends to the materiality of the film and of the body-images and objects on the screen, may be the most culturally and politically useful successor to ‘screen’ theory of the 1970s and 1980s. (shrink)
The author reviews a contemporary cognitive psychology perspective on memory that views memory as being composed of multiple separate systems. Most researchers draw a fundamental distinction between declarative/explicit and non-declarative/implicit forms of memory. Declarative memory is responsible for the conscious recollection of facts and events - what is typically meant by the everyday and the common psychoanalytic use of the word ‘memory’. Non-declarative forms of memory, in contrast, are specialised processes that influence experience and behaviour without representing the past (...) in terms of any consciously accessible content. They operate outside of an individual's awareness, but are not repressed or otherwise dynamically unconscious. Using this theoretical framework, the question of how childhood relationship experiences are carried forward from the past to influence the present is examined. It is argued that incorporating a conceptualisation of non-declarative memory processing into psychoanalytic theory is essential. Non-declarative memory processes are capable of forming complex and sophisticated representations of the interpersonal world. These non-declarative memory processes exert a major impact on interpersonal experience and behaviour that needs to be analysed on its own terms and not mistakenly viewed as a form of resistance. (shrink)
In this companion to ‘Charity, Interpretation, and Belief’, McGinn broadens his attack on Davidson's principle of charity, arguing that charity is no more required for the ascription of notional beliefs (i.e. shared concepts) than it is for the ascription of relational beliefs. His argument takes the form of a reductio: if Davidson were right that about the inherently charitable nature of interpretation, then, McGinn argues, traditional sceptical worries (e.g. concerning the external world, other minds) would not even arise. (...) But that is absurd. In the concluding section, McGinn presents his preferred (Quinean) method of interpretation, according to which the ascription of beliefs and meanings proceeds only after the attribution of perceptual experiences. (shrink)
In his work on following a rule Wittgenstein discerned principles of interpretation that apply to commonsense psychology and psychoanalysis. We can use these to assess the cogency of psychoanalytic reasoning.
This study examines the history of the psychoanalytic theory of mysticism, starting with the seminal correspondence between Freud and Romain Rolland concerning the concept of "oceanic feeling." Providing a corrective to current views which frame psychoanalysis as pathologizing mysticism, Parsons reveals the existence of three models entertained by Freud and Rolland: the classical reductive, ego-adaptive, and transformational (which allows for a transcendent dimension to mysticism). Then, reconstructing Rolland's personal mysticism (the "oceanic feeling") through texts and letters unavailable to Freud, (...) Parsons argues that Freud misinterpreted the oceanic feeling. In offering a fresh interpretation of Rolland's mysticism, Parsons constructs a new dialogical approach for psychoanalytic theory of mysticism which integrates culture studies, developmental perspectives, and the deep epistemological and transcendent claims of the mystics. (shrink)
How is social agreement ever reached, given that the notion of intersubjectivity cannot offer an adequate account? A problem for psychoanalytic theory is that of the sovereign third person who apparently holds the balance. Using the question of ambiguity in language and interpretation in psychoanalysis, this book explores the alliance of religion and the social as they support the sacred.
Freud's account of dreams can be understood via interpretive patterns that span language and action, enabling an extension of common sense psychology that is potentially cogent, cumulative, and radical.
What knowledge would suffice to yield an interpretation of an arbitrary utterance of a language when such knowledge is based on evidence plausibly available to a nonspeaker of that language? it is argued that it is enough to know (1) a theory of truth for the language and (2) that the theory satisfies tarski's 'convention t' (modified to apply to natural language) and (3) that it gives an optimal fit (in a sense described) to data about sentences held true, (...) Under specified conditions, By native speakers. (shrink)
Now in a new edition, this volume updates Davidson's exceptional Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984), which set out his enormously influential philosophy of language. The original volume remains a central point of reference, and a focus of controversy, with its impact extending into linguistic theory, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. Addressing a central question--what it is for words to mean what they do--and featuring a previously uncollected, additional essay, this work will appeal to a wide audience of philosophers, (...) linguists, and psychologists. (shrink)
Argues that choice, as a form of interpretation, is completely intertwined with the development of both sexual orientation and sexual identity. Sexual orientation is not simply a given, or determined aspect of personality.
I want to explore four different exercises of interpretation: (1) the interpretation of texts (or hermeneutics), (2) the interpretation of people (otherwise known as "attribution" psychology, or cognitive or intentional psychology), (3) the interpretation of other artifacts (which I shall call artifact hermeneutics), (4) the interpretation of organism design in evolutionary biology--the controversial interpretive activity known as adaptationism.
I argue that the Holonomy Interpretation, at least as it has been presented in Richard Healey’s Gauging What’s Real , faces serious problems. These problems are revealed when certain approximations and idealizations that are innate in the original formulation of the Aharonov-Bohm effect are thrust aside; in particular, when the temporal dimension is taken into account. There are two ways in which time re-appears in the picture: by considering complete solutions to the original problem, where the magnetic flux (...) is static, and by examining the effects of time dependent magnetic fluxes. Both cases expose explanatory gaps in the Interpretation, as well as conflicts between it and customary ideas about relativistic locality and local action on which the Interpretation depends. (shrink)
A careful analysis of Salmon’s Theoretical Realism and van Fraassen’s Constructive Empiricism shows that both share a common origin: the requirement of literal construal of theories inherited by the Standard View. However, despite this common starting point, Salmon and van Fraassen strongly disagree on the existence of unobservable entities. I argue that their different ontological commitment towards the existence of unobservables traces back to their different views on the interpretation of probability via different conceptions of induction. In fact, inferences (...) to statements claiming the existence of unobservable entities are inferences to probabilistic statements, whence the crucial importance of the interpretation of probability. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore have recently criticized Davidson's methodology of radical interpretation because of its apparent failure to reflect how actual interpretation is achieved. Responding to such complaints, Davidson claims that he is not interested in the empirical issues surrounding actual interpretation but instead focuses on the question of what conditions make interpretation possible. It is argued that this exchange between Fodor and Lepore on one side, and Davidson on the other, cannot be viewed simply (...) as a naturalist reaction to non-naturalist philosophical inquiry. Through a careful excavation of the hidden assumptions and commitments underlying this debate, we recognize a more serious disagreement over the intellectual obligations of naturalism; a position with a firm hold on current philosophical imaginations. In the process, we gain a new appreciation for how such commitments shape these naturalist positions, and recognize that any resolution to this specific debate will require careful attention to the divergent commitments that are its real source. (shrink)
McCarthy develops a theory of radical interpretation--the project of characterizing from scratch the language and attitudes of an agent or population--and applies it to the problems of indeterminacy of interpretation first described by Quine. The major theme in McCarthy's study is that a relatively modest set of interpretive principles, properly applied, can serve to resolve the major indeterminacies of interpretation.
The debate between ‘inclusive’ and ‘dominant’ interpretations of Aristotle's concept of happiness (eudaimonia) has become one of the thorniest problems of Aristotle interpretation. In this paper, I attempt to solve this problem by presenting a multi-step argument for an ‘all-inclusive’ thesis, i.e., the Aristotelian philosopher or contemplator, in the strict sense, is someone who already possesses all the intellectual virtues (except technē), all the moral virtues (by way of the possession of phronēsis), and considerable other goods. If this thesis (...) is correct, the inclusive and dominant interpretations will converge, for the philosopher turns out to be the happiest human being both in the inclusive and dominant senses. (shrink)
We owe to Donald Davidson the suggestion that a truth theory used as an interpretation theory for a speaker can do duty as a meaning theory for his language. This is a brilliant suggestion, but there are some oddities in the development of this idea in Davidson’s work which need to be brought to light, and the project, in the form it takes in Davidson’s hands, in the end is too ambitious to succeed. I begin by distinguishing three questions: (...) 1.What is it for a word or expression to be meaningful? 2. What is it for a word or expression to mean what it does? 3. How do the meanings of complex expressions in a language depend upon those of their parts? A full answer to 1 would include answers to 2 and 3; but it is clear one could pursue question 3 independently of 1 and 2, and 2 independently of 1. My discussion of the development of Davidson’s program in semantics is organized around the distinction between these three questions. First, I discuss Davidson’s development of the project of employing a truth theory in a central role in a recursive meaning theory for a natural language. Davidson’s project, as first stated in “Truth and Meaning”, undergoes an important but easily overlooked transformation from having the relatively modest goal of answering question 3 to that of answering simultaneously questions 1-3. Plausibly, a truth theory that meets certain constraints can be pressed into service to answer question 3. But the unremarked shift to the more ambitious goal imposes the requirement that the constraints not appeal to semantic facts. This obscures a relatively straightforward answer to the question what constraints such a theory needs to meet to serve a central role in a meaning theory, if we put aside questions 1 and 2. When Davidson turns from his first proposal about what constraints are needed to his later proposal in “Radical Interpretation,” that the theory be confirmed by a radical interpreter, the effect of not having laid out the straightforward constraints is to leave unclear what the radical interpreter has to confirm to succeed. Separating more cleanly the projects of answering question 3, and answering 1-2, helps us to evaluate the prospects of each, and, in particular, the prospects for success in radical interpretation. Next I consider the prospects for answering questions 1 and 2 by describing the procedures a radical interpreter, who takes a recursive truth theory to give the basic structure of a meaning theory for another’s language. I distinguish a modest and ambitious program in Davidson’s work, and argue that Davidson is best understood as engaged in the ambitious one. The ambitious program assumes an a priori guarantee of success at radical interpretation. The modest program eschews this. Failure of the ambitious program would undermine a number of important results Davidson grounds in reflection on radical interpretation. I argue the prospects for the ambitious program are dim, and that this becomes clear once we see what success in radical interpretation requires. Next, I consider two a priori arguments for the ambitious program suggested by some of Davidson’s recent work, and argue neither succeeds. (shrink)
Can there be a theory of law? -- Two views of the nature of the theory of law : a partial comparison -- On the nature of law -- The problem of authority : revisiting the service conception -- About morality and the nature of law -- Incorporation by law -- Reasoning with rules -- Why interpret? -- Interpretation without retrieval -- Intention in interpretation -- Interpretation : pluralism and innovation -- On the authority and interpretation (...) of constitutions : some preliminaries -- Postema on law's autonomy and public practical reasons : a critical comment. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to give a systematic account of the so-called “measurement problem” in the frame of the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics. It is argued that there is not one but five distinct formulations of this problem. Each of them depends on what is assumed to be a “satisfactory” description of the measurement process in the frame of the standard interpretation. Moreover, the paper points out that each of these formulations refers not to a (...) unique problem, but to a set of sub-problems. (shrink)
After establishing its roots in basic forms of sensorimotor coupling between an organism and its environment, the new wave in cognitive science known as “enactivism” has turned to higher-level cognition, in an attempt to prove that even socioculturally mediated meaning-making processes can be accounted for in enactivist terms. My article tries to bolster this case by focusing on how the production and interpretation of stories can shape the value landscape of those who engage with them. First, it builds on (...) the idea that narrative plays a key role in expressing the values held by a society, in order to argue that the interpretation of stories cannot be understood in abstraction from the background of storytelling in which we are always already involved. Second, it presents interpretation as an example of what Di Paolo et al. ( 2010 ) have called in their recent enactivist manifesto a “joint process of sensemaking”: just like in face-to-face interaction, the recipient of the story collaborates with the authorial point of view, generating meaning. Third, it traces the meaning brought into the world by interpretation to the activation and, potentially, the restructuring of the background of the recipients of the story. (shrink)
Interpreting the everyday -- Art interpretation : the central issues -- A theory of art interpretation : substantive claims -- A theory of art interpretation : conceptual and ontological claims -- Radical constructivism -- Moderate and historical constructivism -- Interpretation and construction in the law -- Relativism versus pluralism.
Abstract -/- Inclusive nonindexical context-dependence occurs when the preferred interpretation of an utterance implies its lexically-derived meaning. It is argued that the corresponding processes of free or lexically mandated enrichment can be modeled as abductive inference. A form of abduction is implemented in Simple Type Theory on the basis of a notion of plausibility, which is in turn regarded a preference relation over possible worlds. Since a preordering of doxastic alternatives taken for itself only amounts to a relatively vacuous (...) ad hoc model, it needs to be combined with a rational way of learning from new evidence. Lexicographic upgrade is implemented as an example of how an agent might revise his plausibility ordering in light of new evidence. Various examples are given how this apparatus may be used to model the contextual resolution of context-dependent or semantically incomplete utterances. The described form of abduction is limited and merely serves as a proof of concept, but the idea in general has good potential as one among many ways to build a bridge between semantics and pragmatics since inclusive context-dependence is ubiquitous. (shrink)
In his response to my Why There Are No Mental Representations, Robert Cummins accused me of having misinterpreted his views, and attempted to undermine a crucial premise of my argument, which claimed that one could only define a semantic type non-semantically by stipulating which tokens should receive a uniform interpretation. I respond to the charge and defend the premise.
This paper explores the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious and critiques it from a phenomenlogical perspective, especially Sartre and Heidegger, with a view to conceptualizing the unconscious from an ontological rather than psychological mindset.
This paper argues that ontic structural realism (OSR) faces a dilemma: either it remains on the general level of realism with respect to the structure of a given theory, but then it is, like epistemic structural realism, only a partial realism; or it is a complete realism, but then it has to answer the question how the structure of a given theory is implemented, instantiated or realized and thus has to argue for a particular interpretation of the theory in (...) question. This claim is illustrated by examining how OSR fares with respect to the three main candidates for an ontology of quantum mechanics, namely many worlds-type interpretations, collapse-type interpretations and hidden variable-type interpretations. The result is that OSR as such is not sufficient to answer the question of what the world is like if quantum mechanics is correct. (shrink)
Contemporary caution against anachronism in intellectual history, and the currently momentous theoretical emphasis on subjectivity in the philosophy of mind, are two prevailing conditions that set puzzling constraints for studies in the history of philosophical psychology. The former urges against assuming ideas, motives, and concepts that are alien to the historical intellectual setting under study, and combined with the latter suggests caution in relying on our intuitions regarding subjectivity due to the historically contingent characterizations it has attained in contemporary philosophy (...) of mind. In the face of these conditions, our paper raises a question of what we call non-textual (as opposed to contextual) standards of interpretation of historical texts, and proceeds to explore subjectivity as such a standard. Non-textual standards are defined as (heuristic) postulations of features of the world or our experience of it that we must suppose to be immune to historical variation in order to understand a historical text. Although the postulation of such standards is often so obvious that the fact of our doing so is not noticed at all, we argue that the problems in certain special cases, such as that of subjectivity, force us to pay attention to the methodological questions involved. Taking into account both recent methodological discussion and the problems inherent in two de facto denials of the relevance of subjectivity for historical theories, we argue that there are good grounds for the adoption of subjectivity as a non-textual standard for historical work in philosophical psychology. (shrink)
An investigation into what kind of knowledge is necessary for interpretation is an important research project for the two fields of the theory of meaning and epistemology, through which they are combined. By examining the two basic requirements for a theory on the interpretation of language drafted by Donald Davidson, this paper analyzes several kinds of knowledge which are necessary for interpretation. The goal is to explore the knowledge of radical interpretation and the distinctions and connections (...) between this knowledge and radical translation and Convention-T, thus revealing its characteristics and possibility to interpretation. (shrink)
Davidson has claimed that to conclude that reference is inscrutable, one must assume that "If some theory of truth... is satisfactory in the light of all relevant evidence... then any theory that is generated from the first theory by a permutation will also be satisfactory in the light of all relevant evidence." However, given that theories of truth are not directly read off the world, but rather serve as parts of larger theories of behavior, this assumption is far from self-evident. (...) A proper understanding of the role truth theories play in theories of interpretation makes the inscrutability of reference much less wide-spread than Davidson suggests, and, as a result, the radical interpretation methodology is much less likely to saddle its defenders with counterintuitive cases of indeterminacy than is commonly supposed. (shrink)
I argue that the extant theories of self-deception face a counterexample which shows the essential role of instability in the face of attentive consciousness in characterising self-deception. I argue further that this poses a challenge to the interpretist approach to the mental. I consider two revisions of the interpretist approach which might be thought to deal with this challenge and outline why they are unsuccessful. The discussion reveals a more general difficulty for Interpretism. Principles of reasoning—in particular, the requirement of (...) total evidence—are given a weight in attentive consciousness which does not correspond to our reflective judgement of their weight. Successful interpretation does not involve ascribing beliefs and desires by reference to what a subject ought to believe and desire, contrary to what Interpretists suggest. (shrink)