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Truth, Language, and History$
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Donald Davidson

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198237570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019823757X.001.0001

Locating Literary Language

Chapter:
(p.167) 12 Locating Literary Language
Source:
Truth, Language, and History
Author(s):

Donald Davidson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/019823757X.003.0012

This essay explores the constraints on the interpretation of a literary text. The possibility of language, thought, and interpretation depends on the triangular situation which relates speaker and listener, and both to a shared object in the public world which they can observe together, and to which they can observe each other’s responses. Such a triangular situation exists in literature. Interpretations of a text will vary from person to person, culture to culture, and century to century. However, it does not follow that a text means whatever its readers take it to mean, since disagreements about the meaning of a text are only possible against a shared basis of agreement.

Keywords:   philosophy of language, theory of action, linguistics, text, interpretation

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