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UTEL

Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown

Intention / intentionality:

A hermeneutical term for the willed verbal meaning of an author, in principle determinate and in principle understandable. Verbal intention is not a psychological phenomenon but a linguistic one. It comprises conventions and norms that the author explicitly and implicitly deploys and that the competent reader is able to reconstruct.

Intentionality is also a phenomenological term for the fact that consciousness is always directed to an object, is consciousness of something. One cannot separate the thinking subject from the objects it intends.

In speech act theory, intention is an integral part of the proposition that what an utterer means by a given term or utterance is more important in the order of explanation than what a given term or utterance means in a language. Meaning is use-oriented and context-dependent; it should be regarded as a species of the genus intending-to-communicate. (See also Phenomenology, Speech act theory.)



© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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Last modified: March 31, 1997