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The Model of the Text: Meaningful Action Considered as a Text Author(s): Paul Ricur Source: New Literary History,

Vol. 5, No. 1, What Is Literature? (Autumn, 1973), pp. 91-117 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/468410 . Accessed: 23/04/2013 16:00
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The Model oftheText: Meaningful Action Consideredas a Text PaulRicoeur


AIM IN THIS PAPER will be to testan hypothesis. I assume concerns thatthe primary senseof the word "hermeneutics" docuthe rulesrequiredforthe interpretation of the written mentsof our culture. In assumingthis starting am I remaining point faithful to the conceptofAuslegung as it was statedby WilhelmDilthey; whereas Verstehen(understanding, comprehension)relieson the recof what a or intendson the basis of all means ognition subject foreign kindsof signsin whichpsychic lifeexpresses itself(Lebensiiusserungen), morespecific: it Auslegung(interpretation, exegesis)impliessomething a coversonly limitedcategory of signs,thosewhichare fixedby writing, all the sortsof documentsand monumentswhich entail a including fixation similarto writing. Now my hypothesis is this: if thereare specific problemswhich are of texts because they are texts and not raised by the interpretation spoken language, and if these problemsare the ones which constitute as such, then the social sciencesmay be said to be herhermeneutics meneutical (I) inasmuchas theirobject displayssome of the features constitutive of a textas text,and (2) inasmuch as theirmethodology the same kind of proceduresas those of Auslegung or textdevelops interpretation. Hence the two questionsto which my paper will be devoted: (i) To what extent may we considerthe notionof textas a good paradigmfor the so-calledobject of the social sciences? (2) To what extentmay we as a paradigmforinterpretaof text-interpretation use the methodology tion in generalin the fieldof the social sciences?

MY

I. The Paradigm of Text betweenspoken and written lanIn order to justifythe distinction concept,that of discourse. It guage I want to introducea preliminary

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is as discoursethat language is eitherspoken or written. Now, what is discourse? We shall not seek the answerfromthe logicians,not even fromthe Disthemselves. of linguistic but fromthe linguists exponents analysis, course is the counterpartof what linguistscall language systemsor or linguistic linguisticcodes. Discourse is language-event usage. This of correlative pair code/message-has played a terms-system/event, basic role in linguistics since it was introduced by Ferdinand de Saussure and Louis Hjelmslev.The first of spoke language (langue)-speech (parole), thesecondofschema-usage. We can also add competencein Chomsky'slanguage. It is necessaryto draw all the performance epistemological consequencesof such a duality,namely,that the linof language. rulesfromthe linguistics guisticsof discoursehas different It is the French linguist Emile Benv6niste who has gone furthest with thisdistinction. For him, thesetwo linguistics are not constructed upon the same units. If the sign (phonologicalor lexical) is the basic unit of it is the Therefore language,the sentenceis the basic unit of discourse. of the sentencewhich supportthe theoryof speech as an linguistics event. I will retainfourtraits fromthislinguistics which of the sentence will help me in a littlewhile to elaboratethe hermeneutic of the event and of discourse. Firsttrait: Discourseis always realizedtemporally and in a present, whereasthe languagesystem is virtualand outsideof time. Emile Benv6niste calls thisthe "instanceof discourse." Second trait: Whereaslanguagelacksa subject-in thesensethatthe question"Who is speaking?"does not apply at itslevel-discourse refers to itsspeaker such as thepersonal bymeans ofa complexsetofindicators that will We of the "instance discourse" is self-referential. pronouns. say Third trait: Whereas the signsin language refer only to othersigns withinthe same system, and whereaslanguage therefore lacks a world and subjectivity, discourseis always about just as it lacks temporality to a world which it claims to describe,to express, something.It refers thatthe symbolic or to represent. function It is in discourse of language is actualized. forcommunicaFourthtrait: Whereaslanguageis onlythe condition that all messages tion,forwhich it providesthe codes, it is in discourse are exchanged. In thissense,discourse alone has not onlya world,but an other-another person,an interlocutor to whom it is addressed. These fourtraitstaken together constitute speech as an event. It is remarkablethat these four traitsappear only in the movementof effromlanguage to discourse. Every apologyforspeech as an fectuation

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is significant event, therefore, if,and onlyif,it makesvisiblethe effectuation by which our linguisticcompetenceactualizes itselfin performance. But the same apology becomes abusive as soon as this eventwhere it is valid, to undercharacteris extended from effectuation, standing.What is it to understanda discourse? thesefour traitsare actualized in spoken Let us see how differently and written language: as we said, existsonly as a temporaland presentinDiscourse, (I) in living speech and in trait is realized differently stance. This first has the characterof In livingspeech,the instanceof discourse writing. a fleeting event, an event that appears and disappears.That is why What we want to fix is of inscription. thereis a problemof fixation, we can say thatone fixes what disappears. If, by extension, languageof the alphabet,lexical inscription, syntactical inscriptioninscription it is for the sake of that which alone has to be fixed,discourse. Only discourseis to be fixed,because discoursedisappears.The atemporal neitherappears nor disappears;it does not happen. Here is the system recall the mythin Plato's Phaedo. Writingwas given to men to place which a weakness of discourse," to "come to therescue"ofthe "weakness was that of the event. The giftof the grammata-of that "external" alienation-was of those "externalmarks,"of that materializing thing, The Egyptiankingof to our memory. just that of a "remedy"brought was a false Thebes could well respondto the god Theuth that writing by materialconservation remedyin that it replaced true reminiscence in and real wisdom by the semblance of knowing.This inscription, Not fix? does What destination. its discourse's is of writing perils, spite the eventof speaking,but the "said" of speakingwherewe understand of the aim of constitutive exteriorization by the said that intentional discourse thanks to which the sagen-the saying-wants to become Aus-sage-the enunciation,the enunciated. In short,what we write, is the noema of the speaking. It is the meaning of what we inscribe, the speech event,not the eventas event. fix? If it is not the speechevent,it is speech itself What does writing whatis said? But it is said. in so faras has to appeal not Here I would like to propose that hermeneutics of language) discourse vs. of to linguistics only linguistics(linguistics as it does above, but also to the theoryof the speech act such as we findit in Austin and Searle. The act of speaking,accordingto these authors,is constituted by a hierarchyof subordinateacts which are or proposion threelevels: (I) the level of the locutionary distributed act or tional act, the act of saying; (2) the level of the illocutionary

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force,that which we do in saying; and (3) the level of the perlocutionaryact, that which we do by saying.When I tell you to close the door, forexample, "Close the door!" is the act of speaking. But when I tell you this with the forceof an order and not of a request,this is the illocutionary act. Finally,I can stirup certaineffects, like fear,by the fact that I give you an order.These effects make my discourseact like a stimulus This is the perlocutionary act. producingcertainresults. What is the implication of these distinctions for our problemof the intentional exteriorization itself in meaning by whichtheeventsurpasses The and lends itselfto material fixation? act exteriorizes locutionary itselfin the sentence. The sentencecan be identified and reidentified as being the same sentence.A sentencebecomes an enunciation(Austo others as beingsuch and such a sentence sage) and thusis transferred with such and such a meaning. But the illocutionary act can also be exteriorizedin grammaticalparadigms (indicative, imperative,and of the illocutionary subjunctivemodes, and otherprocedures expressive and reidentification. force) which permitits identification Certainly, in spoken discourse,the illocutionary force leans upon mimicryand elements and upon thenonarticulated what gestural aspectsof discourse, we call prosody. In thissense,the illocutionary forceis less completely in grammar inscribed than is the propositional meaning. In everycase, its inscription in a syntactic articulation is itself gatheredup in specific in which make Without paradigms principle possiblefixatiod by writing. a doubt we must concede that the perlocutionary act is the least inscribable aspect of discourseand that by preference it characterizes action is precisely what is the spokenlanguage. But the perlocutionary least discursive in discourse.It is the discourseas stimulus.It acts, not of my intention, but energetically, by my interlocutor's recognition by directinfluence the emotions the affective and Thus upon dispositions. the propositionalact, the illocutionary force,and the perlocutionary action are apt, in a decreasing exteriorization order,forthe intentional which makes inscription in writing possible. it is necessary to understand Therefore by the meaningof the speechof the noema the not in the narrow act, or by saying, onlythe sentence, sense of the propositional forceand even act, but also the illocutionary action in the measurethat thesethreeaspectsof the the perlocutionary are codified, gatheredinto paradigmswhere, consequently, speech-act and be identified can reidentified as having the same meaning. they ThereforeI am here givingthe word "meaning" a verylarge acceptationwhich coversall the aspectsand levelsof theintentional exteriorization which makes the inscription of discoursepossible.

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The destinyof the three other traitsof discoursein passing from discourseinto writing us to make more precisethe meaning of permits thiselevationof sayingto what is said. we said-and thiswas the second differential trait (2) In discourse, its speaker of discourse in relationto language--thesentencedesignates In spokendiscourse, and personality. indicators of subjectivity by diverse this reference a character by discourseto the speakingsubject presents of immediacythatwe can explainin the following way. The subjective intention of thespeaking subjectand themeaningof the discourseoverlap each other in such a way that it is the same thingto understand what the speakermeans and what his discoursemeans. The ambiguity of the French expressionvouloir dire, the German meinen, and the to thisoverlapping.It is almostthe same thing Englishto mean attests to ask "What do you mean?" and "What does that mean?" With writtendiscourse,the author's intention and the meaningof the text cease to coincide. This dissociation of the verbal meaningof the text and the mental intentionis what is really at stake in the inscription of discourse.Not thatwe can conceiveof a textwithout an author; the tie betweenthespeakerand thediscourse but distended is not abolished, and complicated.The dissociation of the meaningand the intention is of discourseto the speakingsubject. stillan adventureof the reference But the text'scareer escapes the finite horizonof its author. What the text says now mattersmore than what the author meant to say, and of a every exegesis unfolds its procedureswithin the circumference of its author. meaning that has brokenits mooringsto the psychology cannotbe "rescued"by discourse Using Plato's expression again, written all the processesby which spoken discoursesupportsitselfin order to be undertood-intonation,delivery, mimicry, gestures. In this sense, the inscription in "external marks," which first appeared to alienate the marks actual of discourse. discourse, spirituality Henceforth, only the meaning "rescues" the meaning, withoutthe contribution of the physicaland psychological presenceof the author. But to say that the the rescues is the meaning is to say that only interpretation meaning the of which its can for weakness discourse author no "remedy" longer '"save.5" (3) The eventis surpassedby the meaninga thirdtime. Discourse, we said, is what refers to the world,to a world. In spoken discourse this means that what the dialogue ultimately refers to,is the situation the interlocutors. This situation in a common to way surroundsthe dialogue, and its landmarks can all be shown by a gesture,or by mannerby the discourse in an ostensive a finger, or designated pointing

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itselfthroughthe oblique referenceof those other indicatorswhich are the demonstratives, the adverbs of time and place, and the tense of the verb. In oral discourse,we are saying,reference is ostensive. What happens to it in written discourse?Are we sayingthat the text and no longerhas a reference? This would be to confoundreference world and situation. Discourse cannot fail to be about demonstration, fromany ideology something.In sayingthis,I am separatingmyself of an absolutetext. Only a few sophisticated this ideal of textssatisfy a textwithoutreference. of texts where the are play the signifier They breaksaway fromthe signified.But this new formis valuable only as an exceptionand cannot give the key to all othertextswhich in one manner or anotherspeak about the world. But what, then,is the subcan be shown? Far fromsayingthatthe text ject of textswhen nothing is then withouta world,I will now say without paradox thatonlyman has a world and not just a situation. In the same manner that the it text freesits meaning from the tutelage of the mental intention, fromthe limitsof ostensivereference.For us, the freesits reference world is the ensembleof references opened up by the texts.Thus we not to designateany more what "world" about the of Greece, speak were the situationsfor those who lived them, but to designate the of the first and which outlive the effacement nonsituational references as possiblemodes of being, as symbolic are offered which henceforth of all For me, thisis the referent of our being-in-the-world. dimensions of references ostensive Umwelt of the the no dialogue, literature; longer references of everytextthat but the Welt projectedby the nonostensive and loved. To understanda text is at the we have read, understood, same time to lightup our own situation, or, if you will, to interpolate which make among the predicatesof our situationall the significations a Weltof our Umwelt. It is thisenlarging of the Umweltintothe World us to speak of the references which permits opened up by the text-it to say thatthereferences would be better open up theworld. Here again itself of discourse manifests which frees the spirituality through writing, of situations and limitation us fromthe visibility by openingup a world of our being-in-the-world. for us, that is, new dimensions in In thissense,Heideggerrightly says-in his analysisof verstehen in understand first Time-that what we a discourse not is Being and anotherperson, but aiproject,thatis, the outlineof a new being-in-thein freeingitself,not only fromits author,but world. Only writing, of the dialogical situation, fromthe narrowness revealsthisdestination of discourseas projecting a world. In thus tyingreference to the projectionof a world, it is not only

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but Wilhelmvon Humbolt,forwhom Heideggerwhom we rediscover, the relationof man to the great justification of language is to establish the world. If we suppressthis referential function,only an absurd errant remains. of game signifiers traitthatthe accomplishment of (4) But it is perhapswiththefourth discoursein writing is most exemplary. Only discourse, not language, is addressedto someone.This is the foundation of communication. But it is one thingfor discourseto be addressedto an interlocutor equally presentin the discoursesituation,and another to be addressed,as is the case in virtually to whoeverknowshow to everypiece of writing, read. The narrownessof the dialogical relation explodes. Instead of is adbeing addressedjust to you, the second person,what is written dressed to the audience that itself creates. This, again, marks the of its materiality of writing,the counterpart and of the spirituality of the written alienationwhichit imposesupon discourse. The vis-a-vis is just whoeverknows how to read. The copresenceof subjects in a The reladialogue ceases to be the model for every"understanding." ceases to be a particular case of the relation tion writing-reading speaking-hearing.But at the same time,discourseis revealed as disof its address. In escaping the momentary course in the universality character of the event-the bounds lived by the authorand the narrowness of ostensivereference-discourseescapes the limitsof being face invisiblereader to face. It is no longera visibleauditor. An unknown, addresseeof the discourse. has become the unprivileged To what extent may we say thatthe object of the social sciencesconthis object as formsto the paradigm of the text? Max Weber defines oriented behavior." Verhalten,as "meaningfully sinnhaftorientiertes oriented" To what extentmay we replace the predicate"meaningfully from the derived to call like I would what readability-characters by of criteria four our to of the text? Let us try apply precedingtheory action. what a text is to the concept of meaningful a. The FixationofAction Meaningfulaction is an object forscience only under the condition which is equivalentto the fixation' of a kind of objectification of a disThis traitpresupposes a simpleway of being meancourse by writing. ingfulwhich is similarto the dialogical situationas regardslanguage. Meaningfulaction may be graspedand understoodwithinthe process in which is quite similarto the processof interlocution of interaction,

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the fieldof discourse. It is at thisstrategic level that the so-calledphithinkers. losophy of actions operates among post-Wittgensteinian G. E. M. Anscombein Intention,A. I. Melden in Free Action, and Richard Taylor in Action and Purpose require no other conceptual framework for theirtheoryof action than the one which is at work in ordinarylanguage. Science is another "language game" based on semanticrules. It is one thingto speak of actions,purquite different else to speak poses,motives, agentsand theiragency,and it is something of movements of mental events (if thereare any), or of as happening, physical or mental causes. The duality of linguisticgames, that of ordinarylanguage and that of the behavioral and the social sciences, is inseparable. As is known,the main discrepancy betweenboth lanthe concerns of conceived as "reason guage games irreducibility motive, in to cause Humean terms as an antecedent event for," interpreted distinct and linked its But is from, to, consequent. logically contingently it truethat a scientific must exclude the character necessarily approach of meaningfulness and that ordinarylanguage alone preservesit? Is therenot a scientific language for which action would be both "objective" and "meaningful"? The comparisonbetweeninterlocution and interaction may help us at thisstageof our analysis. In the same way thatinterlocution is overcome in writing,interactionis overcome in numeroussituationsin which we treataction as a fixedtext.These situationsare overlooked in a theory of action forwhich the discourse of action is itself a part of the situationof transactionwhich flowsfrom one agent to another, exactly as spoken language is caught in the process of interlocution, This is why the underor, if we may use the term,of translocution. level is only "knowledgewithout standingof action at the prescientific observation,"or as G. E. M. Anscombe says, "practical knowledge" in the sense of "knowinghow" as opposed to "knowingthat." But this is not yet an interpretation in the strongsense which understanding deservesto be called scientific interpretation. action as meaningful, My claim is that action itself, may become an of its without character of science, object losing meaningfulness, by similarto the fixation virtueof a kind of objectification which occurs in writing.By thisobjectification, action is no longera transaction to which the discourseof action would stillbelong. It constitutes a delineatedpattern which has to be interpreted accordingto its innerconnections. This objectificationr is made possibleby someinnertraits of the action which are similarto the structure of the speech act and which make

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"doing" a kind of utterance. In the same way fixationby writingis made possibleby a dialectic of intentionalexteriorization inherentin the speech-actitself, a similardialecticwithinthe processof transaction of the meaningof the action fromthe event preparesthe detachment of the action. act. It has a proposiof a locutionary an actionhas thestructure First, This "propositional contentwhich can be identified and reidentified. of the action has been clearly and demonstratively tional" structure expounded by AntonyKenny in Action,Emotion and Will. The verbs a specificcomplexof predicateswhich are similar of action constitute to all the kinds of to relations are irreducible and which,like relations, which may followthe copula "is." The class of action predipredicates cates in its turnis irreducible a specific to the relationsand constitutes setof predicates.Amongothertraits, theverbsofactionallow a plurality of "arguments"capable of complementing the verb, rangingfromno number of arguments argument (Plato taught) to an indeterminate (Brutus killedCaesar, in the Curia, on the Ides of March, with a ..., of the predicative with the help of. . . .). This variable polydicity of action-sentences structure is typical of the propositionalstructure of action. Anothertrait which is importantfor the transposition of the concept of fixationfrom the sphere of discourse to the sphere of action concernsthe ontologicalstatusof the "complements"of the verbsof action. Whereas relationshold betweentermsequally existing (or nonexisting),certainverbsof action have a topical subject which and compleand to which the sentencerefers, is identified as existing mentsof which do not exist. Such is the case with the "mental acts" to will, to imagine,etc.). (to believe,to think, some othertraits of the propositional strucAntonyKenny describes ture of actions derivedfromthe description of the functioning of the verb of action. For example,the distinction betweenstates,activities, and otherperformances can be statedaccordingto the behaviorof the tensesof the verbsof action which fixsome specifictemporaltraitsof the action itself.The distinction betweenthe formaland the material betweenthe notionof all object of an action (let us say the difference inflammable thingsand this letterwhich I am now burning) belongs to the logic of action as mirroredin the grammarof the verbs of action. Such, roughlydescribed, is the propositional contentof action which gives a basis to a dialecticof event and meaningsimilarto that of the speech-act. I should like to speak here of the noematicstructure of action. It is the noematicstructure whichmay be fixedand detached fromthe processof interaction and become an object to interpret.

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but also content, Moreover,thisnoema has not only a propositional of the similar to those traits very complete presents"illocutionary" classes of performative acts of discoursedespeech act. The different scribedby Austinat the end of How to do Thingswith Wordsmay be taken as paradigmsnot onlyforthe speech acts themselves, but forthe A of action, actionswhichfulfill acts. the corresponding typology speech the model of therefore is acts, illocutionary following possible. Not only a typology, but a criteriology, inasmuchas each typeimpliesrules,more rules" which,accordingto Searle in Speech-Acts, "constitutive precisely of "ideal models" similarto the ideal typesof allow the construction Max Weber. For example,to understandwhat a promiseis, we have to understandwhat the "essentialcondition"is accordingto which a This "essential condition"of Searle given action "countsas" a promise. is not far fromwhat Husserl called Sinngehalt, which coversboth the "matter" (propositional content) and the "quality" (the illocutionary force). We may now say that an action,like a speech act, may be identified not only accordingto its propositional content,but also according to force. Both constitute its "sense-content."Like the its illocutionary coin we thisanalogical expression) the action-event act, (if may speech between its dialectic similar a temporalstatusas an appearing develops and disappearing event,and its logical statusas having such and such identifiable is meaning or "sense-content."But if the "sense-content" of the action-event, what makes possiblethe "inscription" what makes it real? In otherwords,what corresponds to writingin the field of action? Let us returnto the paradigm of the speech-act.What is fixedby we said, is the noema of the speaking,the sayingas said. To writing, what extentmay we say that what is done is inscribed? Certainmetaphorsmay be helpfulat this point. We say that such and such event leftits mark on its time. We speak of markingevents. Are therenot "marks" on time,the kind of thingwhich calls for a reading,rather than for a hearing? But what is meant by this metaphorof the "imprintedmark"? The three other criteriaof the text will help us to moreprecise. make the natureof thisfixation b. The Autonomization of Action In the same way that a textis detached fromits author,an action is detached fromits agent and develops consequences of its own. This autonomizationof human action constitutes the social dimensionof

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action. An action is a social phenomenonnot only because it is done by several agentsin such a way that the role of each of them cannot be distinguished but also because our deeds fromthe role of the others, whichwe did not intend. One of themeanescape us and have effects ings of the notion of "inscription" appears here. The kind of distance which we found between the intention of the speakerand the verbal of a text occurs also the agent and his action. It between meaning is this distancewhich makes the ascriptionof responsibility a specific We not do raised "Who smiled?" "Who hand?" The his ask, problem. doer is presentto his doing in the same way the speakeris presentto his speech. With simple actions like those which require no previous action in order to be done, the meaning (noema) and the intention are (noesis) coincide or overlap. With complex actionssome segments so remotefromthe initialsimplesegments, which can be said to express the intention of the doer, that the ascription of theseactionsor actiona problemas difficult constitutes to solve as thatof authorship segments in some cases of literary criticism. The assignation of an authorbecomes a mediateinference who triesto isolatethe well-known to the historian role of an historical characteron the course of events. We just used the expression "the course of events." Could we not call the courseof eventsplaysthe role of the material say thatwhat we? thingwhich "rescues" the vanishingdiscoursewhen it is written?As we said in a metaphorical way, some actions are eventswhich imprint theirmark on theirtime. But on what did theyimprint theirmark? Is it not in something discourse How could that is inscribed? spatial an eventbe printedon something Social time,however,is temporal? not only something which flees. It is also the place of durable effects, of persisting patterns.An action leaves a "trace," it makes its "mark" when it contributes to the emergenceof such patternswhich become the documents of human action. Anothermetaphormay help us to delineatethisphenomenonof the social "imprint": themetaphor of the "record" or of the "registration." introduces this metaphor John Feinberg,in Action and Responsibility, in another context,that of responsibility, in order to show how an actionmay be submitted to blame. Only actions,he says,which can be "registered"for furthernotice, placed as an entry on somebody's "record," can be blamed. And when there are no formal"records" like employment (like those which are kept by institutions offices, schools,banks, and the police), thereis still an informalanalogue of theseformalrecordswhich we call reputation a and which constitutes basis for blaming. I would like to apply this interesting of metaphor a record and reportingto somethingother than the quasi-judicial

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or punishing. Could we not situations of blaming,charging, crediting is itselfthe record of human action? Historyis this say that history quasi-"thing"on which human action leaves a "trace," puts its mark. Hence the possibility of "archives." Before the archives which are written down by the memorialists, thereis thiscontinuous intentionally itselfas the sum processof "recording"human actionwhich is history of "marks,"the fate of which escapes the controlof individual actors. Henceforthhistory may appear as an autonomous entity,as a play of history with playerswho do not know the plot. This hypostasis may be denounced as a fallacy,but this fallacy is well entrenched in the processby which human action becomes social action when written down in the archivesof history. Thanks to thissedimentation in social human become in the sense that their deeds "institutions," time, the with of no the intentions actors. coincides longer logical meaning The meaningmaybe "de-psychologized" to thepointwherethesinnhaft the work In the termsof P. Winch, resides in itself. (meaningfulness) The of Social the the social sciences is a in Idea of Science, object behavior." But this rule is not superimposed;it is the "rule-governed meaning as articulatingfrom within these sedimentedor instituted works. Such is the kind of "objectivity"which proceeds from the behavior. "social fixation"of meaningful c. Relevanceand Importance of what a textis, we could say that Accordingto our thirdcriterion ofwhichgoes "beyond" the actionis an action a meaningful importance its relevanceto its initialsituation.This new traitis verysimilarto the way in which a text breaks the ties of discourseto all the ostensive references. Thanks to this emancipationfromthe situationalcontext, whichwe called a "world," can developnonostensive references discourse in the sense in which we speak of the Greek "world," not in the cosmologicalsense of the word, but as an ontologicaldimension. What would correspondin the field of action to the nonostensive of a text? references We juxtaposed,in introducing the presentanalysis,the importance of an action to its relevance as regards the situation to which it wanted to respond. An importantaction, we could say, develops in situations other than meaningswhich can be actualized or fulfilled the one in which this action occurred.To say the same thingin differentwords,the meaning of an important event exceeds, overcomes,

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the social conditions transcends of its production and may be reenacted in new social contexts. Its importance is its durable relevanceand, in some cases,its omnitemporal relevance. This thirdtraithas important for the relationbetween implications culturalphenomenaand theirsocial conditions.Is it not a fundamental traitof the great worksof cultureto overcomethe conditionsof their and social production, in the same way a textdevelopsnew references constitutes new "worlds"? It is in this sense that Hegel spoke,in the Philosophyof Right, of the institutions (in the largestsense of the freedom which "actualize" as second nature in accordance a word) with freedom.This "realm of actual freedom" is constituted by the situadeeds and workscapable of receivingrelevancein new historical tions. If this is true, this way of overcomingone's own conditionsof conis the keyto the puzzlingproblems raised by Marxismi production of The of the the status autonomy super"superstructures." cerning has its as regardstheirrelationto theirown infrastructures structures A work does text. of not references a paradigm in the nonostensive within which bears it only mirrorits time, but it opens up a world itself. d. Human Actionas an "Open Work" Finally, according to our fourthcriterionof the text as text, the which is addressedto an meaning of human action is also something indefinite of "readers." The range possible judges are not contempoas itself. ist Weltgericht. raries,but, Hegel said, history Weltgeschichte That meansthat,likea text, human actionis an open work, the meaning of which is "in suspense." It is because it "opens up" new references and receivesfreshrelevance from them that human deeds are also which decide theirmeaning. All sigwaitingfor freshinterpretations nificantevents and deeds are, in this way, opened to this kind of practicalinterpretation throughpresentpraxis. Human action, too, is opened to anybodywho can read. In the same way that the meaning of an eventis the sense of its forthcoming the interpreinterpretations, tationby contemporaries has no particularprivilege in this process. will be the This dialectic betweenthe work and its interpretations of interpretation that we shall now consider. topic of the methodology

II. The ParadigmofText-Interpretation


I want now to show the fruitfulness of this analogy of the text at the level of methodology.

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The main implicationof our paradigm,as concernsthe methodsof a freshapproach to the questionof the social sciences,is that it offers the relation between erkldren(explanation) and verstehen(understanding,comprehension). As is well known,Dilthey definedthis relation as a dichotomy. For him, any model of explanationis borrowedfroma different thatof the naturalsciences regionof knowledge, with their inductive logic. Henceforth the autonomy of the socalled Geisteswissenschaften Is preservedonly by the recognitionof the irreduciblefactorof understanding a foreignpsychiclife on the exteriorized.But if basis of the signsin which thislife is immediately this verstehen is separatedfromerkliiren by logical gap, how can the with this social sciences be scientific at all? Dilthey kept wrestling after He discoveredmore and more clearly,mainly having paradox. are read Husserl'sLogicadtInvestigations, that the Geisteswissenschaften of of lifeundergoa kind objectificasciencesinasmuchas the expressions to that similar whichmakespossiblea scientific tion, approachsomewhat of the naturalsciences,in spite of the logical gap betweenNatur and Geist, factual knowledgeand knowledgeby signs. In this way the mediation offeredby these objectifications appeared to be more important,for a scientific purpose,than the immediatemeaningfulness of the expressions of life for everydaytransactions. own startswith this last perplexity in Dilthey's My investigation And kind of that the is my hypothesis thought. objectification implied as textprovidesa better in thestatusof discourse answerto the problem raised by Dilthey. This answerrelieson the dialecticalcharacterof the and verstehen as it is displayedin reading. relationbetween erkliiren will be to show to what extent the paradigmof readOur tasktherefore of the paradigm of writing, ing, which is the counterpart providesa of social sciences. solutionforthe methodological paradox The dialectic involved in reading expressesthe originality of the relationbetweenwriting to the diaand reading and its irreducibility betweenspeaking logical situationbased on the immediatereciprocity and hearing. There is a dialecticbetween and comprehending explaining situationdevelops a problemof its own because the writing-reading of the speaking-hearing which is not merelyan extension situationconstitutive of dialogue. It is here therefore that our hermeneutic is most criticalof the Rotradition in hermeneutics, which took the dialogicalsituation manticist as the standardforthe hermeneutical operationapplied to the text. My contention is thatit is thisoperation, on the contrary, which revealsthe in dialogical understanding. meaningof what is already hermeneutical

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Then, if the dialogical relationdoes not provideus with the paradigm of readingwe have to build it as an originalparadigm,as a paradigm of its own. This paradigm draws its main featuresfrom the statusof the text itselfas characterized of the meaning, (2) its disby (I) the fixation sociationfromthe mental intention of the author, (3) the displayof nonostensive and (4) the universalrange of its addressees. references, These fourtraitstakentogether the "objectivity" of the text. constitute From this "objectivity" which is not derivesa possibility of explaining, derived in any way from another field, that of natural events,but which is congenial to this kind of objectivity. Thereforethere is no transfer fromone regionof reality fromthe sphereof facts, to another, let us say, to the sphereof signs. It is withinthe same sphereof signs that the processof objectification takesplace and gives rise to explanait within thissphereof signsthat explanation And is toryprocedures. and comprehension are confronted. I proposethatwe consider thisdialecticin two different ways: (I) as from to as and proceeding (2) proceeding comprehension explanation, from explanation to comprehension. The exchange and reciprocity betweenboth procedures of will provideus witha good approximation the dialecticalcharacterof the relation. At the end of each half of thisdemonstration I shall tryto indicate the possibleextensionof the paradigmof reading to the whole briefly sphereof the human sciences. a. From Understanding to Explanation This first of a unique dialecticdialectic--orratherthisfirst figure be that to understand contention introduced our may conveniently by a textis not to rejoin the author. The disjunction of the meaningand the intention creates an absolutelyoriginalsituationwhich engenders and verstehen.If the objective meaning is the dialectic of erkliiren the other than subjectiveintentionof the author, it may something of the rightunderstanding in variousways. The problems be construed of can no longerbe solved by a simplereturnto the alleged intention the author. This construction takes the formof a process. As E. D. necessarily Hirsch says, there are no rules for making good guesses. But there

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are methods and forvalidatingguesses.1 This dialecticbetweenguessing one figure of our dialecticbetween validatingconstitutes comprehension and explanation. In this dialectic both termsare decisive. Guessing corresponds to what Schleiermachercalled the "divinatory,"validation to what he called the "grammatical." My contribution of this diato the theory lectic will be to link it more tightly of the textand textto the theory reading. Why do we need an art of guessing? Why do we have to "construe" the meaning? Not only-as I tried to say a few years ago-because language is and because thddouble meaningofmetaphorical metaphorical language art an of deciphering which tendsto unfoldthe severallayers requires of meaning.The case of metaphor case fora general is onlya particular of hermeneutics. In more a text has to be contheory generalterms, struedbecause it is not a mere sequence of sentences, all on an equal footingand separatelyunderstandable. A text is a whole, a totality. The relationbetweenwhole and parts-as in a work of art or in an animal-requires a specifickind of "judgment" for which Kant gave the theory in the Third Critique. Concretely, the whole appears as a of or subordinate and hierarchy topics, primary topics.The reconstruction of the text as a whole necessarily in the has a circularcharacter, sense that the presupposition of a certainkind of whole is implied in the recognition of the parts. And, reciprocally, the it is in construing detailsthatwe construe thewhole.There is no necessity and no evidence what is important and what is unimportant, what is essenconcerning tial and what is unessential. The judgmentof importance is a guess. in otherterms,if a textis a whole, it is once To put the difficulty more an individual like an animal or a workof art. As an individual it can only be reached by a processof narrowing the scope of generic the of text to which this the class conceptsconcerning genre, literary text belongs,the structures in this kinds which intersect of different text.The localizationand the individualization of this unique textare stillguesses. Still anotherway of expressing the same enigma is that as an individual the textmay be reachedfromdifferent sides. Like a cube, or a volume in space, the textpresents a "relief." Its different topics are
is at I Validity in Interpretation(New Haven, 1967): "The act of understanding firsta genial (or a mistaken) guess, and there are no methods for making guesses, no rules for generatinginsights.The methodical activityof interpretation commences when we begin to test and criticize our guesses" (p. 203). And further: "A mute symbolism may be construedin several ways."

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not at the same altitude.Therefore of the whole has the reconstruction a perspectivist It to that of is similar always possible aspect perception. to relate the same sentencein different ways to this or that sentence consideredas the cornerstone kind of onesidedof the text. A specific ness is implied in the act of reading. This onesidedness the confirms of character "guess" interpretation. For all thesereasonsthereis a problemof interpretation not so much because of the incommunicability of the psychic experience of the of the author,but because of the very nature of the verbal intention text.This intention otherthan the sum of the individual is something meaningsof the individual sentences. A text is more than a linear successionof sentences.It is a cumulative, holistic process.This specific structure of the text cannot be derived from that of the sentence. which belongsto textsas textsis Thereforethe kind of "plurivocity" lanthe of other than something polysemy individualwordsin ordinary This is sentences. individual and the of plurivocity guage ambiguity to a and the as to several text considered of whole,open readings typical severalconstructions. As concerns the procedures of validationbywhichwe testour guesses, I agree with Hirsch that theyare closer to a logic of probability than is to a logic of empiricalverification. To show that an interpretation otherthan more probable in the light of what is known is something showing that a conclusion is true. In this sense, validation is not verification. Validation is an argumentative discipline comparable to the juridical proceduresof legal interpretation. It is a logic of uncerwe may give an and In of this sense tainty qualitative probability. and sense between to the acceptable opposition Geisteswissenschaften to the without alleged dogma concedinganything Naturwissenschaften of the individual. The method of conveyance of of the ineffability basis indices,typicalof the logic of subjectiveprobability, gives a firm for a science of the individual deserving the name of science. A text is a quasi-individual,and the validation of an interpretation applied knowlto give a scientific to it may be said, with completelegitimacy, edge of the text. and the scientific Such is the balance betweenthe geniusof guessing the modern complementof characterof validation which constitutes and erkliiren. the dialecticbetweenverstehen At the same time,we are prepared to give an acceptable meaning to the famous concept of a hermeneutic circle. Guess and validation are in a sense circularly relatedas subjectiveand objective approaches to the text. But this circle is not a vicious circularity.It would be a

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which, cage if we wereunable to escape the kindof "self-confirmability" relation between threatens this to Hirsch guess according (pp. 165 ff.), and validation.To the proceduresof validationalso belongprocedures of invalidation of falsifiability similarto thecriteria emphasizedby Karl The of falsification is played here role in his Popper Logic of Discovery. An conflict the between by competinginterpretations. interpretation must not onlybe probable,but more probablethan another.There are criteriaof relativesuperiority which may easily be derived from the of logic subjectiveprobability. In conclusion,if it is true that thereis always more than one way are equal and of construing a text,it is not truethatall interpretations to so-called"rulesof thumb" (Hirsch, p. 203). The may be assimilated text is a limitedfieldof possibleconstructions. The logic of validation allows us to move betweenthe two limitsof dogmatism and skepticism. It is always possible to argue for or against an interpretation, to confront to arbitratebetween them, and to seek for interpretations, an agreement, even if this agreement remainsbeyondour reach. To what extent and validating is thisdialecticbetweenguessing paraThat the meaning for the social sciences? whole field of the digmatic of human actions,of historical events,and of social phenomenamay be in the construed in several different ways is well knownby all experts social sciences.What is less knownand understood is thatthismethodois foundedin thenatureof the object itself and, morelogical perplexity between that it does not the condemn scientist to oscillate over, dogmatism and skepticism. As the logic of text-interpretation suggests, thereis a specific to themeaningof human action. plurivocity belonging Human action,too, is a limitedfieldof possibleconstructions. A traitof human action which has not been emphasizedin the prelink between the specific ceding analysismay provide an interesting of the textand the analogical plurivocity of human action. plurivocity This traitconcernsthe relationbetweenthe purposiveand the motivational dimensions in the new fieldof of action. As many philosophers have shown,the purposivecharacterof an action is fully action theory recognizedwhen the answerto the question what? is explained in the termsof an answer to the question why? I understandwhat you intended to do, if you are able to explain to me why you did such and such an action. Now, what kinds of answer to the question why? make sense? Only those answerswhich afforda motiveunderstoodas a reasonfor... and not as a cause. And what is a reasonfor... which is not a cause? It is, in the termsof G. E. M. Anscombeand A. I. or a phrase,which allows us to considerthe Melden, an expression, action as thisor that. If you tellme that you did this or thatbecause

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of jealousy or in a spiritof revenge,you are asking me to put your action in the light of this category of feelingsor dispositions.By the same token,you claim to make sense with your action. You claim to make it understandable forthe othersand foryourself. This attempt is particularly helpfulwhen applied to what G. E. M. Anscombe calls the desirability-character of wanting.Wants and beliefs have the propertynot only of being forceswhich make people act in such and such ways,but of makingsense,by virtueof the apparentgood which is the correlate of their desirability-character. I may have to answer the what as want this? do the On basis of these desirabilityyou question, charactersand of the apparentgoods which correspond to them,it is to the about of an to action, argue possible meaning argue for or or this that of motives In account the this against way interpretation. foreshadows of a already logic argumentation procedures. Could we not say that what can be (and must be) construedin human action is the motivationalbasis of this action, i.e., the set of desirabilitycharacters whichmay explainit? And could we notsay thatthe process of arguinglinked to the explanationof action by its motivesunfolds a kind of plurivocity which makes action similarto a text? What seems to make legitimatethis extensionfrom guessing the meaningof a text to guessingthe meaning of an action is that in arat guingabout the meaningof an action I put my wantsand my beliefs a distanceand submitthemto a concrete dialecticof confrontation with opposite points of view. This way of puttingmy action at a distance in orderto make sense of my own motivespaves the way for the kind of distancing which occurswithwhat we called thesocial inscription of human action and to which we applied the metaphorof the "record." The same actions which may be put into "records" and henceforth "recorded" may also be explained in different ways according to the of the to their motivational plurivocity arguments background. applied If we are correct in extending to actionthe conceptof "guess" which we took as a synonym for verstehen, we may also extend to the field of action the concept of "validation" in which we saw an equivalent of erkliiren. Here, too, the modern theoryof action providesus with link between the procedures of literarycriticism an intermediary and thoseof the social sciences. Some thinkers have triedto elucidate theway in whichwe imputeactionsto agentsin the lightof thejuridical proceduresby which a judge or a tribunalvalidates a decision conof cerninga contractor a crime. In a famousarticle,"The Ascription and Rights" (Proceedingsof the Aristotelian Society,49 Responsibility [1948-49], I71-94), H. L. A. Hart shows in a very convincingway

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that juridical reasoningdoes not at all consistin applying generallaws to particularcases, but each time in construing deuniquelyreferring cisions. These decisionsterminate a careful refutation of the excuses and defenseswhich could "defeat" the claim or the accusation. In "defeasible" and that saying that human actions are fundamentally which comes to grips an is process juridical reasoning argumentative with the different claim of a or an accusation,Hart ways "defeating" has paved the way fora generaltheory of validationin which juridical would be the fundamental linkbetweenvalidationin literary reasoning criticism and validation in the social sciences.The intermediary function of juridical reasoningclearlyshows that the proceduresof valiof the court,theplurivocity dationhave a polemicalcharacter.In front common to textsand to actionsis exhibitedin the formof a conflict of interpretations, and the finalinterpretation appears as a verdictto all interprewhich it is possibleto make appeal. Like legal utterances, criticism and in the social sciencesmay tationsin the fieldof literary and the question"What can defeata claim?" is common be challenged, to all argumentative situations.Only in the tribunalis therea moment of appeal are exhausted. But it is so onlybecause when the procedures the decisionof the judge is implemented by the forceof public power. criticism Neitherin literary nor in the social sciencesis theresuch a last word. Or, if thereis any, we call that violence. b. From Explanationto Understanding and understanding The same dialecticbetweencomprehension may receive a new meaningif taken in the reverseway, fromexplanation to understanding.This new Gestaltof the dialecticproceedsfromthe of the text.This referential function natureof the referential function, as we said, exceeds the mere ostensivedesignationof the situation common to both speaker and hearer in the dialogical situation.This world gives rise to two oppositeattifromthe surrounding abstraction As we remain in a state of suspenseas reeither tudes. readers, may world,or we may actualize the potential gards any kind of referred-to of the text in a new situation,that of the nonostensive references reader. In the first in the case, we treatthe text as a worldlessentity; reference thanksto the kind of "exesecond,we create a new ostensive cution" which the art of readingimplies. These two possibilities are equally entailed by the act of reading,conceived as their dialectical interplay.

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THE MODEL OF THE TEXT

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strucThe first way of readingis exemplified today by the different tural schools of literary criticism. Their approach is not only possible, but legitimate. It proceeds from the suspension,the epoche, of the ostensivereference. To read in thisway means to prolongthis suspension of the ostensive reference oneselfinto to the world and to transfer the "place" wherethe textstands,withinthe "enclosure"of thisworldless place. Accordingto this choice,the textno longerhas an outside, it has only an inside. Once more, the veryconstitution of the text as textand of the system of textsas literature this conversionof justifies the literary a into closed of things system signs,analogous to the kind of closed systemwhich phonologydiscovered at the root of all discourse,and whichde Saussurecalled "la langue." Literature, according to thisworking becomes an analogon of "la langue." hypothesis, On the basis of thisabstraction, a new kind of explanatory attitude to the expectamay be extendedto the literary object,which,contrary tion of Dilthey,is no longerborrowedfromthe natural sciences,i.e., from an area of knowledgealien to language itself.The opposition betweenNatur and Geist is no longeroperativehere. If some model is borrowed, it comes fromthe same field,fromthe semiologicalfield. It is henceforth rules possibleto treattextsaccordingto the elementary to the of which linguistics elementary systems signs successfully applied that underliethe use of language. We have learned fromthe Geneva school, the Prague school, and the Danish school that it is always fromprocesses and to relatethesesystemssystems possibleto abstract or whether lexical, syntactical-to unitswhich are merely phonological, definedby the oppositionwith other units of the same system.This of merelydistinctive entitieswithinfinitesets of such units interplay in linguistics. the notion of structure defines It is this structural model which is now applied to texts,i.e., to sequences of signs longerthan the sentence,which is the last kind of unit that linguistics takes into account. Claude L6vi-Strauss this formulates Id his Anthropologie structurale, in the in to one way working hypothesis following regard categoryof the mythis made texts,that of myths: "Like everylinguisticentity, units.These constitutive unitsimplythe presenceof up of constitutive those which generallyoccur in the structures of language, namely and form Each fromthe semantemes. differs phonemes,morphemes, one which precedes it by a higher degree of complexity. For this which properlybelong to the myth reason we will call the elements, units" (p. (and which are the mostcomplexof all): large constitutive means of this the are which large units, 233). By working hypothesis,

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at least the same size as the sentenceand which, put together, form the narrative can be treatedaccordingto the same properto the myth, rules as the smallestunitsknownsto linguistics.It is in order to insist on this likenessthat Claude Levi-Straussspeaks of mythemes, just as we speak of phonemes,morphemes, and semantemes.But in order to and the remain within the limitsof the analogy between mythemes the same lower-levelunits,the analysisof textswill have to perform sort of abstraction To him, the as that practiced by the phonologist. with in is not a concrete an absolute its acoustic sense, sound, phoneme It like is to "substance" a but a de Saussure, not, quality. speak that an to is of relations. a "form," say, Similarly, mytheme interplay is not one of the sentences of a myth, but an oppositive value attached to several individual sentences forming,in Levi-Strauss' terms, a "bundle of relations." "It is onlyin the formof a combination of such bundles that the constitutive units acquire a meaning-function" (p. is not at all what the 234). What is here called a meaning-function or existential or intuition, content but the mythmeans,its philosophical the disposition of mythemes-in short,the structure of arrangement, the myth. We can indeed say thatwe have explained a myth, but not that we have interpreted it. We can, by means of structural analysis, bringout the logic of it throughthe operationswhich relate the bundles of relationsamong themselves. law of This logic constitutes "the structural the mythunder consideration"(p. 241). This law is preeminently an of and not at all of in the sense of a reciting object reading speaking, wherethe powerof the mythwould be reenactedin a particular situation. Here the text is only a text, thanks to the suspensionof its of all actualizationby present meaning for us, to the postponement speech. I want now to show in what way "explanation" (erkliiren)requires in a new way the inner (verstehen)and bringsforth "understanding" dialecticwhich constitutes as a "interpretation" whole. As a matterof with a of myths and narratives as formal fact,nobodystops conception as thisalgebraof constitutive units.This can be shownin different ways. of myths First,even in themostformalized by Lvi-Strauss, presentation the units he calls "mythemes"are still expressedas sentenceswhich bear meaning and reference.Can anyone say that theirmeaning as such is neutralized when theyenterintothe "bundle of relations" which alone is taken into account by the "logic" of the myth? Even this bundle of relations, in its turn,must be written in the formof a sentence. Finally,the kind of language game which the whole system of

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and combinations embodieswould lack any kind of signifioppositions cance if the oppositions themselves, which, according to Levi-Strauss, the mythtendsto mediate,were not meaningful concerning oppositions birth and death, blindnessand lucidity,sexualityand truth. Beside these existentialconflictsthere would be no contradictions to overcome, no logical functionof the mythas an attemptto solve these contradictions.Structuralanalysisdoes not exclude, but presupposes, the oppositehypothesis the myth, i.e., that it has a meaning concerning as a narrative of origins. Structural thisfuncanalysismerelyrepresses tion. But it cannot suppress it. The mythwould not even functionas a logical operatorif the propositions which it combinesdid not point toward boundarysituations. Structuralanalysis,far from gettingrid of this radical questioning, restores it at a level of higherradicality. If thisis true,could we notsay thatthe function of structural analysis is to lead from a surface-semantics, that of the narratedmyth,to a that of the boundarysituations which constitute the depth-semantics, ultimate"referent" of the myth? I fully believethatifsuch werenot the function of structural analysis, it would be reduced to a sterile game, a divisivealgebra,and even the himselfasmythwould be bereftof the functionwhich LUvi-Strauss and of signs to it, that of making men aware of certain oppositions mediation.To eliminatethisreference tendingtowardtheirprogressive to the aporias of existencearound which mythicthoughtgravitates would be to reduce a theory of mythto the necrology of the meaningless discourses of mankind. If, on the contrary, we considerstructural analysisas a stage-and a necessaryone--between a naive interpretation and a critical interpretation, between a surface-interpretation and a depth-interpretation, then it would be possibleto locate explanation and understanding at two different stages of a unique hermeneutic arc. It is this depth-semantics which constitutes the genuine of and which requiresa specificaffinity between object understanding the readerand the kind of things the textis about. But we must not be misled by this notionof personal affinity. The of the text not what is the author intendedto say, but depth-semantics what the textis about,i.e., the nonostensive reference of the text. And the nonostensive referenceof the text is the kind of world opened of the text. up by the depth-semantics Thereforewhat we want to understandis not somethinghidden behindthe text,but something disclosedin front of it. What has to be understoodis not the initial situation of discourse,but what points toward a possibleworld. Understanding has less than ever to do with

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the author and his situation. It wants to grasp the world-propositions a textis to folof the text.To understand opened up by the reference low its movementfromsense to reference, fromwhat it says to what it talks about. In this processthe mediatingrole played by structural both the justification of thisobjectiveapproach and analysisconstitutes the rectification of the subjectiveapproach.We are definitely prevented fromidentifying withsome kind of intuitive of understanding grasping the intention said about the text. What we have the depthunderlying semanticswhich structural analysisyieldsinvitesus ratherto thinkof the sense of the textas an injunctionstarting fromthe text,as a new as an injunctionto thinkin a certainmanner. way of lookingat things, Such is the reference The text speaks of borne by depth-semantics. a possibleworld and of a possibleway of orientating oneselfwithinit. The dimensions of thisworld are properly opened up by, disclosedby, the text. Disclosureis the equivalentfor written language of ostensive reference forspokenlanguage. we preserve the language of Romanticist hermeneutics, If, therefore, when it speaksof overcoming the distance,of making"one's own," of what was distant,other,foreign, it will be at the price appropriating of an important corrective. That whichwe make our own-Aneignung in German-that which we appropriate, is not a foreignexperience, but the power of disclosing the reference of a world which constitutes the text. This link betweendisclosure and appropriation is, to my mind, the cornerstone of a hermeneutic which would claim both to overcome the shortcomings of historicism and to remain faithful to the original intention hermeneutics. of Schleiermacher's To understandan author betterthan he could understandhimselfis to display the power of disclosureimplied in his discoursebeyond the limitedhorizon of his The process of distancing, own existential of atemporalization, situation. is the fundamental to which we connected the phase of Erkliirung, forthis enlarging of the horizonof the text. presupposition or Gestalt,of the dialectic betweenexplanation This second figure, and comprehension has a strongparadigmaticcharacterwhich holds forthe whole fieldof the human sciences. I want to emphasizethree points. First,the structural model, takenas a paradigmforexplanation, may be extendedbeyond textual entitiesto all social phenomena because it is not limitedin its applicationto linguistic signs,but applies to all kindsof signswhich are analogousto linguistic signs.The intermediary link between the model of the text and social phenomena is consti-

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from tuted by the notion of semiologicalsystems.A linguistic system, the semiotic a within the point of view of semiology, is only species genre,althoughthis specieshas the privilegeof being a paradigmfor that a structural the otherspeciesof the genre. We can say therefore model of explanationcan be generalized as far as all social phenomena which may be said to have a semiologicalcharacter,i.e., as far as it at their of a semiological is possibleto define the typicalrelations system level: the generalrelationbetweencode and message,relationsamong and sigthe specificunits of the code, the relationbetweensignifier nified, the typical relation within and among social messages; the etc. Inasmuch structure of communication as an exchangeof messages, as the semiological model holds,the semioticor symbolic i.e., function, the function of substituting for of and things signs things representing in social by the means of signs,appears to be more than a mere effect life. It is its veryfoundation.We should have to say, accordingto this generalizedfunctionof the semiotic,not only that the symbolicfunction is social, but that social realityis fundamentally symbolic. If we followthissuggestion, then the kind of explanationimpliedby from the classical the structural model appears to be quite different in Humean terms causal model, especiallyif causation is interpreted as a regularsequence of antecedentsand consequentswith no inner betweenthem. Structural logical connection systems implyrelationsof a quite different rather correlative than kind, sequentialor consecutive. If this is true, the classical debate about motives and causes which has plagued the theory of action theselast decades loses its importance. If the search for correlations withinsemioticsystems is the main task of explanation,thenwe have to reformulate the problemof motivation in social groupsin new terms. But it is not the aim of this paper to develop this implication. The second paradigmaticfactor in our previous concept of textinterpretation proceeds fromthe role we assigned to depth-semantics betweenstructural analysisand appropriation. This mediatingfunction of depth-semantics must not be overlooked,since the appropriaand subjectivecharacterand receivinga tion's losingits psychological function depends on it. genuine epistemological Is theresomething similarto the depth-semantics of a text in social that tend to I the for correlations search should say phenomena? within and between social phenomena treated as semiotic entities if it would not yieldsomething would lose importance and interest like In the same way that linguisticgames are forms a depth-semantics. of life,accordingto the famousaphorismof Wittgenstein, social struc-

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NEW LITERARY HISTORY

human tures are also attemptsto cope with existentialperplexities, and deep-rooted conflicts. In thissense,thesestructures, predicaments, dimension.They point toward aporias of social too, have a referential the same aporias around which mythical existence, thoughtgravitates. And this analogical functionof reference develops traitsvery similar to what we called the nonostensive of a text,i.e., the display reference of a Welt which is no longer an Umwelt,the projectionof a world which is more than a situation.May we not say thatin social science, to critical interpretations, too, we proceed from naive interpretation structural fromsurface-interpretations to depth-interpretations through which But it is gives meaning to the analysis? depth-interpretation whole process. This last remarkleads us to our thirdand last point. If we follow the paradigm of the dialecticbetweenexplanationand understanding to its end, we must say that the meaningful patternswhich a depthwithouta kind of understood cannot be wants to interpretation grasp who grasps the reader similar to that of the commitment personal knows "own." it of the text and makes his Everybody depth-semantics to the objectionswhich an extensionof the concept of appropriation the inthe social sciencesis exposed to. Does it not make legitimate trusion of personal prejudices, or subjective bias into the field of scientific inquiry? Does it not introduceall the paradoxes of the hermeneuticalcircle into the social sciences? In other words, does not the veryconcept the paradigmof disclosure destroy plus appropriation of social science?The way in which we introducedthis pair of terms of text-interpretation withinthe framework providesus not only with a paradigmaticproblem,but with a paradigmaticsolution. in This solution is not to deny the role of personal commitment human phenomena,but to qualifyit. As the model of understanding has nothing to do with an shows, understanding text-interpretation immediate graspingof a foreignpsychic life or with an emotional with a mental intention. Understandingis entirely identification mediated by the whole of explanatoryprocedureswhich precede it of this personal appropriation is and accompany it. The counterpart it is the can be which released not something dynamicmeaning felt, of earlier with the reference by the explanationwhich we identified a world. the text,i.e., its power of disclosing must be applied The paradigmaticcharacterof text-interpretation This means that ultimate the conditionsof down to this implication. as theywere displayedin relationto texts, an authenticappropriation, Therefore we are not allowed to exclude are themselves paradigmatic.

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THE MODEL OF THE TEXT

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the finalact of personalcommitment fromthe whole of objectiveand which it. mediate explanatory procedures does not This qualificationof the notion of personal commitment eliminatethe "hermeneutic circle." This circle remainsan insuperable structure of knowledgewhen it is applied to human things,but this qualificationpreventsit from becominga vicious circle. the correlation betweenexplanationand understanding, Ultimately, betweenunderstanding and explanation,is the "hermeneutic circle."
UNIVERSITY OF PARIS

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