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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: June ::
SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0355  Sunday, 15 June 2008

[1] From:   Duncan Salkeld <
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     Date:   Friday, 13 Jun 2008 12:57:24 +0000 (GMT)
     Subt:   Re: SHK 19.0352 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

[2] From:   Donald Bloom <
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     Date:   Friday, 13 Jun 2008 09:33:54 -0500
     Subt:   RE: SHK 19.0352 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Duncan Salkeld <
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Date:       Friday, 13 Jun 2008 12:57:24 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 19.0352 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0352 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

David Schalkwyk's thoughtful and well-informed contribution merits a more 
considered response than I have given so far or (I regret) am able to give here. 
I think there are plenty of areas of agreement between us, and both of us leave 
room for manoeuvre in our approaches. I'm not so ready to follow him down Hilary 
Putnam's road of 'externalism' when we talk about intention but agree that 
intending is a social practice and not solely a personal, private mental affair. 
Each of us, I think, sought distance from naive positions on either side of the 
issue. I accept  that Shakespeare's intentions will always be a matter of 
(belated) inference but suggest there are cases where the 'I-word' just has to 
be invoked whether we like it or not (by everyone). We might disagree about the 
wider purposes or implications of Shakespeare's malapropisms (eg. in speeches by 
Dogberry, Elbow or Mistress Quickly), but we would not even begin to disagree 
unless we shared an understanding of what literary malapropisms were, that is 
authorially determined structures. In such cases, the appeal to intention is not 
just heuristic: it is inescapable. My point is that in working out what 
Shakespeare's intentions might have been, or were, we make implicit causal 
assumptions about his choices, or uncertainties - that of all the options 
available to him he settled on one (or didn't). The 'determining' bit is assumed 
in the inferring. This is why I think it's helpful (sometimes) to identify 
intention as 'a determining and authoritative cause' and similarly to regard 
obscurity as ignorance of such a cause.

No criticism of Hardy implied at all, but when I received my contribution 
together with Terry's, both were indeed somewhat mangled. Our intentions seem to 
have come across pretty well despite it.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Donald Bloom <
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Date:       Friday, 13 Jun 2008 09:33:54 -0500
Subject: 19.0352 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:    RE: SHK 19.0352 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

With regard to "words," "meanings," "intentions," and other cattle of this color:

In an explanatory note some weeks ago, our long-suffering editor used the title 
"Resent Digests." I immediately took the first word to be an imperative verb, 
and also immediately found myself puzzled. I could see no reason why I should 
resent any of the digests (unless, of course, they had exposed some folly of 
mine for all the world to see, or said something snide, or whatever). And it was 
very unlikely that Hardy would use an imperative form in a title.

I quickly re-read the title to "Recent Digests," silently emending what I took 
to be a typographical error, and assuming that he was offering a collective 
comment on posts of the past few days.

But I was wrong. What he was talking about were re-sent digests, ones that he 
had to send out over again because of one of those glitches that periodically 
infect the digital world. For some reason the hyphen had dropped out. 
(Alternatively, Hardy may feel that the hyphen is unnecessary.)

In any case, the title was understandable once I clarified what the actual word 
was, a process that I accomplished by reading the rest of the passage and 
discarding the two incorrect readings. By acquiring the intended meaning of the 
whole note, I could figure out the intended meaning of the puzzling word.

I offer this as a parable. Do with it what you will.


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