Stanley Fish Quotes

February 7, 2012 — Leave a comment

Here are some paragraphs that stood out to me in Stanley Fish’s book Is There a Text in This Class? I think his view is problematic, however, in the same breath I found myself resonating with aspects of his view. We have not put enough weight in the reader. I would be more comfortable saying the reader “contributes” to the meaning rather than the reader “creates” the meaning. This leaves room for an interplay between the reader and the author, where horizons can meet.

Hirsch and Abrahms are afraid that in the absence of the controls afforded by a normative system of meanings, the self will simply substitute its own meanings for the meanings (usually identified withe the intentions of the author ) that texts bring with them, the means that texts “have”‘ however if the self is conceived of not as an independent entity but as a social construct whose operations are delimited by the systems of intelligibility that inform it, then the meanings it confers on texts are not its own but have their source in the interpretive community (or communities) of which it is a function.

Moreover, these meanings will be neither subjective nor objective, at least in the terms assumed by those who argue within the traditional framework; they will not be objective because they will always have been the product of a point of view rather than having been simply “read off”‘ and they will not be subjective because that point of view will always be social or institutional. (335)


I may have seemed to confirm the fears of those who argue for the necessity of determinate meaning: for, one might say, if interpretation covers the field, there is nothing to constrain its activities and no way to prevent, or even to recognize, its irresponsible exercise…The mistake is to think of interpretation as an activity in need of constraints, when in fact interpretation is a structure of constraints. (356)

Patrick Schreiner

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I teach New Testament at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I am married with three children. This blog, against all wisdom, includes anything I am interested in. That includes movies, music, theology, culture, hermeneutics, the Gospels, and politics. Feel free to comment and let me know you are reading or that you have found something helpful. I reserve the right to delete unhelpful or rude comments. Many of these posts are simply things I find interesting and therefore I am not asserting I agree with everything I link to.

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