In this paper I argue that the interpretation of a text by a reader involves a dialectical process that simultaneously perfects both reader and text. The issue of the dialectical relation between text and reader is beautifully embodied in Dante’s Commedia, a text that includes both an account of its subject matter as it develops, as well as an account of its own coming-to-be as an interpreted, meaningful account. Thus there is a necessary relation, though not an identity, between the content of Dante’s text and the meaningful interpretation of the content of Dante’s text. The issue of the dialectical relation between interpreter and text is dramatized by the fact that, in his account of the realms of the afterlife, Dante the poet is not merely describing realms that have meaning apart from his own hermeneutic activity. Rather, he is demonstrating that the pilgrim’s journey of interpreting the world within which he finds himself always involves his own self-interpretation, and viceversa. Thus, as the pilgrim/poet’s ability to interpret himself becomes more refined, his very world changes. Dante illustrates this process as a movementthrough the three realms of the afterlife, from the inferno, through purgatory, to paradise.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Conference Proceedings  History of Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 0065-7638
DOI acpaproc20027620
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