Fiction, meaning, and utterance

Grant, R.A. (2001) Fiction, meaning, and utterance. Inquiry, 44(4), pp. 389-403. (doi:10.1080/002017401753263225)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/002017401753263225

Abstract

A Gricean preamble concludes that though utterances have unintended meanings, those cannot be considered apart from their intended meanings. Intention distinguishes artworks from natural phenomena. To allocate an artwork to a genre, to accept its normal authorial boundaries and that its content is not random but chosen, is to concede intention"s centrality. Wimsatt and Beardsley were right that meaning is public. But they think "intention" is "private" or "unavailable". However, it too is public, in the work. Fictions are utterances of a curious kind. They may mimic, but are not meant to be taken for, veridical reports. Neither are they "pseudo-statements" (Richards) nor "pretended illocutionary acts" (Searle). Their logical form is actually this: "I [author] invite you [reader] to imagine that S [content]." This prescribes no response, nor claims to describe the "real" world, even though it may elicit a response appropriate to real-life events. One reason for imagining fictional situations may be to strengthen the perceptions necessary for (civilized) real life.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Grant, Professor Robert
Authors: Grant, R.A.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:Inquiry
ISSN:0020-174X
ISSN (Online):1502-3923

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