In this master essay, Wimsatt and Beardsley call out readers who just go through texts hoping to figure out what their authors really meant. According to these. In Aesthetics, Beardsley develops a philosophy of art that is sensitive .. In “The Intentional Fallacy,” he says that the intentions of the artist are. Intentional Fallacy. William K. Wimsatt Jr. & Monroe C. Beardsley., revised in. The claim of the author’s “intention” upon the critic’s judgement has been chal-.

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The young imagination fired by Wordsworth and Carlyle is probably closer to the verge of producing a poem than the mind. Rather, what strongly suggest is that a work of art is a physical object: It is for this reason that Wimsatt and Beardsley argue that if such notes or allusions generally are acknowledged beards,ey the critical reader they “ought to be judged like any other parts of composition” Mark Bevir in The Logic of the History of Ideas sees meanings fallacu necessarily intentional but suggests that the relevant intentions can be those of readers as well as those of authors.

Doing philosophy of that sort required clarity, precision, and a good eye for identifying, exposing, and evaluating arguments, but left aesthetics, as a systematic study, a real possibility.

That Beardsley’s does in spades, directly defining art in terms of the aesthetic as it does. The first most reliable and most accessible type of evidence for the meaning of a piece of literature is “internal” evidence that is “discovered through the semantics and syntax” of the work On the other hand, it may not be all this.

There is no reason why Donne might not have written a stanza in which the two kinds of celestial motion stood for two sorts of emotion at parting. The Possibility of Criticism.

Authorial intent

There’s no need to bring in the artificer. He callacy at a number of colleges and universities, intentiional Mt.

Weak intentionalists privilege intentionality to emphasize that texts do not have meanings in themselves. To make the geocentric and heliocentric antithesis the core of the metaphor is to disregard the English language, to prefer private evidence to public, external to internal.

The first chapter of Aesthetics is in part devoted to the ontology of art—or aesthetic objects, as Beardsley was then wont to say. Weak intentionalism combines intentionalism with insights from reader response.


Beardsley’s Aesthetics

The reader’s impression of the author’s intent is a working force in beardslwy, but the author’s actual intent is not. But even if 4 were false, and the meaning, Mof a non-literary sentence—a sentence not in a work of literature—were partly a function of the speaker’s intention that it mean Mthe same wouldn’t be true of a literary sentence.

In post-structuralismthere infentional a variety of approaches to authorial intent. Building upon their discussion of the challenges of reading Donne’s poem, Wimsatt and Beardsley conclude their essay by assessing more generally the challenge of responding to allusions encountered in literature.

What Beardsley has in mind is the kind of verbal mistake made at a publishing house, or by fllacy computer in scanning a document. If the poet succeeded in doing it, then the poem itself shows what he was trying to do.

It is only because an artifact works that we infer the intention of the artificer ….

We mean to suggest by the above analysis that whereas notes tend to seem to justify themselves as external indexes to the author’s intention, yet they ought to be judged like any other parts of a composition verbal arrangement special to a faolacy context iintentional, and when so judged their reality as parts of the poem, or their imaginative integration with the rest of the poem, may come into question.

The ontology is phenomenalistic in its leanings, though open to a more physicalistic interpretation.

Poetry succeeds because all or most of what is said or implied is relevant; what is irrevelant has been excluded, like lumps from pudding and “bugs” from machinery. Three books and a number of articles form the core of Beardsley’s work in aesthetics. What then if a poet finds he cannot take so much for granted in a more recondite context and rather than write informatively, supplies notes?

IV There is criticism of poetry and there is author psychology, which when applied to the present or future takes the form of inspirational promotion; but author psychology can be historical too, and then we have literary biography, a legitimate and attractive study in itself, one approach, as Professor Tillyard would argue, to personality, the poem being only a parallel approach. A reader may be mislead into going outside of the original text in order to gain information that may or may not reveal the author’s intention.

More than this, what’s really needed to decide whether there’s an intentional fallacy is a theory of meaning. In cases where the author is deceased, an intentionalist would attempt to approach authorial intention.



In Eliot’s “Love Song of J. A skillful murder is an example which Coomaraswamy uses, and in his system the difference between the murder and the poem is simply a “moral” one, not an “artistic” one, since each if carried out according to plan is “artistically” successful.

This evidence is “about the character of an author or about private or semiprivate meanings attached to words or topics by an author” Or, by looking up the vocabulary of ” Kubla Khan” in the Oxford English Dictionary, or by reading some of intentiohal other books there quoted, a person may know the intentionwl better.

He thus didn’t perform the illocutionary act of addressing Milton, or stating that England needs beardsle. Beardsley responded to each of the three. Beardsley was in fact more than consistent on the issue of the intentional fallacy; he also held that.

The fields Beardsley has in mind, more than any other, are art history and anthropology. If one reads these lines with an attentive ear and is sensitive to their sudden shifts in movement, the contrast between the actual Thames and the idealized vision of it intsntional an age before it flowed through a megalopolis is sharply conveyed by that movement itself, whether or not one recognizes the refrain to be from Spenser.

There is 3 an intermediate kind of evidence about the character of the author or about private or semiprivate meanings attached to words or topics by an author or by a coterie of which he is a member. But while he is worried by some of the notes baerdsley thinks that Eliot “appears to be mocking himself for writing the note at the same time that he wants to convey. Perhaps a knowledge of Donne’s interest in the new science may add another shade of meaning, an overtone to the stanza in question, though to say even this runs against the words.

Critical inquiries, unlike bets, are not settled in this way. An artist’s intentions have nothing to do with what a work means.