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  • ISBN: 9780231119023
  • ISBN10: 023111902X

The Range of Interpretation

by Wolfgang Iser

  • List Price: $95.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 02/01/2000
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Why do human beings need fictions? For that matter, why do human beings need to interpret, despite the fact that complete interpretation is unattainable? These are the questions with which philosopher Wolfgang Iser has grappled throughout his career. In this work, Iser offers a fresh approach to these questions as he formulates "an anatomy of interpretation" through which we can understand the many different forms that the act of interpretation takes.

For Iser, there are several different genres of interpretation, all of which are acts of translation designed to transpose something into something else. Perhaps the most obvious examples of interpretation involve canonical texts, and here Iser explores, for example, the Rabbinical exegesis of the Torah and Dr. Johnson's reading of Shakespeare. But what happens when the matter that one seeks to interpret consists not of a text but of a welter of fragments, as in the study of history, or is something hidden, as in the practice of psychoanalysis, or is as complex as a culture or a system? In the end, Iser concludes that if interpretation is a form of translation, then it is performative and will always depend on what it seeks to translate rather than on some absolute concept of truth or reality.

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