The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0463 Tuesday, 16 March 1999.
Date: Monday, 15 Mar 1999 21:31:09 -0600
Subject: Re: Feeling and Meaning
The debate about whether Shakespeare could have written what he did
without personal experience needs to keep two things in mind. First,
meanings are neither in the head nor in the heart. In other words,
words do not mean what they do by virtue of any feelings that anyone who
uses them has. Second, words only mean what they do because they form
part of human life. If the first principle seems to remove language
from human experience, the second shows that this is not so. We need
both of these principles to remind us a) not to reduce meaning to
internal states, and b) not to abstract language so much in following
principle a) that it ceases to be human. The debate arises because each
side wishes to elevate only one of the principles to a primary position.