(un)common ground

a commonplace book

Author as Hypothesis

Critics…try to give this being of reason [the author] a realistic status, by discerning, in the individual, a ‘deep’ motive, a ‘creative’ power, or a ‘design,’ the milieu in which writing originates. Nevertheless, these aspects of an individual which we designate as making him an author are only a projection, in more or less psychologizing terms, of the operations we force texts to undergo, the connections we make, the traits we establish as pertinent, the continuities we recognize, or the exclusions we practice.

Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author?” (1969)

That is, we use a sort of ideal construct rather than the person himself/herself. We practically know nothing about the author, let alone his/her mind. Yet we talk in terms of the choices the author makes like we know, even in a discourse of criticism and disagreement (i.e., of multiple and contradictory claims). The author in this sense is purely hypothetical. We are always already interpreting any sign–in this case a text–with certain prejudices.

Cf. Gadamer


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This entry was posted on January 1, 2016 by and tagged , .
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