Abstract

Interpretation is generally supposed to be an important part of the methodology of the humanities, but there is little consensus about even the most basic features of interpretation. What objects do interpretations take and what results are they expected to yield? Are interpretations true or false, or are they only amenable to weaker forms of appraisal, for example in terms of "plausibility" – or is even that too much to ask? What role, if any, is played by authorial intention and linguistic convention, respectively, as touchstones for validity in interpretation? One way to try to reach agreement on such questions, is to admit the existence of several types of interpretation, for which different answers may be correct, and there are competing lists of such types suggested in the literature. I will argue that a more fruitful approach is to start from an account of the different dimensions in which interpretations may differ, and in this way try to shed some light both on what interpretation is, and on why people say so wildly divergent things about it.