Not off-topic at all - Authorial intent
Posted by Joan, too on July 30, 1998 at 22:17:09:
In response to authorial intent..., written by Kate on July 30, 1998 at 09:06:14
] The problems with trying to decide authorial intent for a document like the constitution are first, that there was no single author but a whole bunch of people who probably had different intentions, second, that there is very limited information about what they thought they were doing - and it only comes from a couple of individuals, and therefore doesn't reflect what the whole range of understandings were, three, that sone of the language used was deliberately vague. Finally, it seems that it was the intention of at least some of the constitution's writers that its interpretation should change to reflect changing circumstances.... so how does that fit in ;-)
The very fact that you can raise these issues demonstrates that certain things are known and/or knowable regarding the authors' intents (even when in groups). While there probably was variation in intentions, the authors and other signators did come to consensus on the wording to be used.
The fact that it is known that some of the language was deliberately vague (and can be identified as such) demonstrates which portions of the document the authors believed should be open to alternative interpretations and conversely which should not.
While it is not possible to be 100% certain of authorial intent once the author(s) are no longer living to be consulted, there is much that can be done to determine it to the best of our ability whether it is fiction or non-fiction that is being analyzed.
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