What is Said pp 219-234 | Cite as

Further Implications

  • Rod Bertolet
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 49)


I should like to conclude by considering a number of topics related to the theory presented in the previous chapters. The first section concerns some epistemological issues, the second an issue in the philosophy of psychology. In the third I attempt to forestall the thought that the view I have developed earns unwelcome consequences for literary or more generally textual interpretation. In the final section I suggest that even if what I have said about what is said is ultimately overturned, much of value will remain.


Description Theory Blind Alley Mental State Attribution Textual Interpretation Speaker Meaning 
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  1. 3.
    Kripke, “Naming and Necessity”, p. 293. For some discussion of Kripke’s view on “knowing who”, see Boër and Lycan, Knowing Who, pp. 28–29.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Russell, “Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description”, p. 219. For Russell, there were two ways of knowing things; we might have actually encountered them, or we might have a set of descriptions indirectly putting us in touch with them — hence the distinction in his title. For Russell, at the time of this article, we are directly acquainted only with sense data; one can preserve the distinction with a more generous notion of acquaintance.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Kripke, “Naming and Necessity”, p. 283.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Ibid., pp. 285 and 297.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Donnellan, “Proper Names and Identifying Descriptions”, p. 365.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
  7. 9.
    Ibid., p. 366.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Fodor, “Methodological Solipsism Considered as a Research Strategy in Cognitive Psychology”, pp. 234–35.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    See e.g. T. S. Eliot, Poetry and Poets, Wimsatt and Beardsley’s classic “The Intentional Fallacy”, and from a different quarter, Martin Heidegger, On the Way to Language.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    E. D. Hirsch Jr., Validity in Interpretation, especially chapter 1.Google Scholar
  11. 20.
    Jonathan Culler, On Deconstruction, p. 123. Those who think the first clause true but the second false have no need to fear Culler’s argument for the latter; it consists of first irrelevantly pointing out that a given context might have been different and second fallaciously inferring that it might have been different in endless ways. (Culler argues that the nihilistic “Anything goes” conclusion towards which these claims point can be resisted, but I see no reason to believe this.) There is one sentence in Culler’s book I cannot resist repeating; commending Derrida’s thesis that all readings are misreadings, he observes “This account of misreading is not, perhaps, a coherent, consistent position, but, its advocates would claim, it resists metaphysical idealizations and captures the temporal dynamic of our interpretive situation” (p. 178). Apparently, Culler does not find the price too high.Google Scholar
  12. 21.
    As Bill Rowe once pointed out, Moore begged the question against the Idealists by arguing, against their claim that ‘Material objects exist’ leads to a contradiction, thus: (1) The proposition ‘Material objects exist’ is true; (2) No true proposition leads to a contradiction; thus (3) The proposition ‘Material objects exist’ does not lead to a contradiction. But this only means that Moore assumed a premise the Idealists resisted, which does not in turn mean that his argument was not a perfectly good proof of its conclusion. To beg a question in this sense, against someone, is not to assume what one is trying to prove. (See William L. Rowe, “Comments on Professor Davis’ ‘Does the Ontological Argument Beg the Question?’”, pp. 443–44.)Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    Alfred Louch, critical discussion of Fischer’s Does Deconstruction Make Any Difference?, p. 326. To see the point of italicizing part of ‘misunderstanding’ one would have to read Derrida’s “Limited Inc abc …”, and perhaps also what it replies to, Searle’s “Reiterating the Differences: A Reply to Derrida”, and perhaps also what it replies to, Derrida’s “Signature Event Context”. This may not be worth the effort. Briefly, I think that Derrida commits all the mistakes Searle notes, and then some; the cogency of Derrida’s reply is left as an exercise for the reader. (It is possible to construe Derrida’s remarks as ironical, but as Fischer suggests (pp. 41–42) this won’t help. Nor will introducing the claim that all reading is misreading.) My own views about deconstruction — better, the varieties Louch and Fischer survey — are close to those Louch expresses, save for his flirtation with a charge he doesn’t quite make, that “deconstruction is a deliberate fraud” (p. 333). While there may be some of that afield, it’s not true of some people I know who would call themselves deconstructionists. Incidentally, Eliot at least maintained consistency with his theoretical views, never complaining about anybody misinterpreting his poems (see Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation, pp. 10–11).Google Scholar
  14. 27.
    Lockwood, “On Predicating Proper Names”, p. 485 n. 21.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rod Bertolet
    • 1
  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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