Friday, 10 August 2012

Beneath Interpretation… Pragmatists and Interpretation

SHUSTERMAN, R. (1991) Beneath Interpretation. In: D.R. HILEY, J.F. BOHMAN, and R. SHUSTERMAN (Eds.) The Interpretive Turn. Cornell University Press. pp102-128

“Pragmatists, like Nietzcheans, insist on rejecting the very idea of any foundational, mind-independent, and permanently fixed reality that could be grasped or even sensibly thought of without the mediation of human structuring. Such structuring or shaping of perception is today typically considered to be interpretation, and so we find contemporary pragmatists like Stanley Fish repeatedly insisting that interpretation comprises all of our meaningful and intelligent human activity, that ‘interpretation is the only game in town.’ All perception and understanding must be interpretation, since ‘information only comes in an interpreted form.’ Thus, even in our most primitive and initial seeing of an object, ‘interpretation has already done its work.’” (pp103-104)

Through a pragmatist perspective all perception and understanding arises out of a mediated human structuring into meaningful interpretation. Pragmatists reject a reality that is independent of the mind, foundational and permanently ‘fixed.’ Interpretation is the conduit through which we construct our reality.

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