Definition of Intentional fallacy


Intentional fallacy is a literary term that asserts that the meaning intended by the author of a literary work is not the only, and perhaps not the most important, meaning of the piece. The term was first used by W.K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley in their essay "The Intentional Fallacy." The notion has become central to modern literary criticism and is an important part of what is known as the New Criticism.

When writing an author must call upon both their understanding of the language in which they write and their personal experiences about reality to create a work. Even the most escapist fantasy must appeal to some shared understanding in the reader to be intelligible at all. A reader must also call upon their understanding of language and personal experiences in order to decode meaning in a work.

A literary work may thus be looked at as an attempt by an author to communicate to a reader via a shared language and shared experiences with the reader. Without a common ground, communication is labored or impossible.

There will always be some differences between author and reader, however. The author and the reader will inevitably have had different personal experiences, and therefore hold different beliefs and opinions about what different aspects of reality mean, and their relative importances. Because of these differences the meaning taken by a reader is always only approximately the meaning intended by the author, and also only approximately the meaning taken by other readers.

Further complicating communication is that both the author and the reader may be unaware of peculiarities in their understanding of reality, and these peculiarities may color either the work as written or the meaning taken by the reader in ways unconscious to either.

For example, a work written during the Post-World War II era may exhibit commonly-held views of the time, such as prejudices concerning Germans or Japanese. A modern reader might disagree with these prejudices, and see newfound meaning in reviewing how these prejudices color the work. The notion that the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings novels is a metaphor for atomic energy, even though the author did not intend so is another example.

Modern literary critics argue that this newfound meaning is not merely a curious quirk, but a valuable means of gaining insight into a work. 


 But into any search engine*Intentional Fallacy* 


Google, Yahoo or Bing *Intentional Fallacy* and see what you get.


Also Read

Deconstruction - Asserts that the even if the author states intentions for the meaning of a work, that meaning is not privileged above other interpretations. See Donít Mess With GODs Words.htm††††


Back To  IntentionalFallacy.htm