Interpretation and Overinterpretation

  • Anat Biletzki
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 319)


So this is not an interpretation; it is a story of interpretations.1 Interpretation is a current buzzword of the humanities and the social sciences, providing issues of discussion and confrontation mainly in literary and historical studies.2 But our interest is in philosophical interpretation and to that end we need to clearly define the parameters of philosophical interpretations versus all other interpretations. Not only will sociological and psychological factors going into Wittgenstein interpretation be deemed sidelines of this project, but also a huge group of other “interpretations,” such as, for example, literary analyses (of the Tractatus, or the Philosophical Investigations). These, then, become unimportant, except in the aftermath of the philosophical interpretation. In other words, we must first agree on the need for identifying an interpretation as a philosophical interpretation and, closely on the heels of that being done, we ask: what makes a philosophical interpretation “legitimate”? The thought instigating this project had to do with a theory of interpretation that supplies criteria for legitimate interpretation. The idea behind legitimacy is that interpretation is to be constrained by what one may or may not do while interpreting — and still be deemed interpreting. That problematic word (‘legitimate’) is used with some trepidation, in lieu of terms like ‘good’, ‘correct’, ‘satisfactory’, our point being to draw a line between the do’s and don’ts of interpreting philosophical works.


Problematic Word Philosophical Interpretation Systematic Storytelling Metaphysical Reading Huge Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anat Biletzki
    • 1
  1. 1.Tel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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