Contemporary Aesthetics: Symposium on Laurent Stern’s Interpretive Reasoning

The new issue of Contemporary Aesthetics includes a symposium on Laurent Stern’s Interpretive Reasoning with essays, among others, by John Gibson (Philosophy, University of Louisville) and Paul Guyer (Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania). To access the issue, please click here. Here is an excerpt from John Gibson’s introduction to the symposium:

The philosophy of interpretation, at least in the analytic tradition, has produced an extraordinary amount of work on a surprisingly narrow range of issues.   This is not to dismiss its importance, but it is to say that we should be thankful for a book that moves the debate beyond just wondering whether authorial intentions can determine meaning or whether there is a single right interpretation of an artwork, questions to which most players in the debate now respond with a provocative “sometimes” and “no,” respectively.  When we find ourselves at this point, it is a good thing to have new ideas arrive on the scene, and this is what Laurent Stern has offered the philosophy of interpretation with his fascinating and challenging book, Interpretive Reasoning, the subject of this symposium.

Paul Guyer and Mary Wiseman will join me in discussing Stern’s book.  While we will naturally busy ourselves with interpreting Stern’s theory of interpretation, we hope to show that a discussion of the book brings to view a number of issues that should be of general interest to philosophers of art.  For Stern’s account of interpretation is general, concerned with much more than the interpretation of art, and this is for the good.  It is important to see the continuity (and, at times, the discontinuity) of our various interpretive practices, whether they concern the language of poems, the meaning of paintings, or the behavior of persons, and it is our hope that this symposium will shed light on this.


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