Interpretive Truth and Interpretive Validity: Remarks on Danto's Idea of "Constitutive Interpretation"

Abstract

Given an interpretive ontology of the artwork, exemplified by Danto’s “constitutive interpretation” thesis, the present paper considers a fundamental “obscurity” at the heart of the artistic (contemporary) phenomenon – the ontological confusion between the material and the semantic “body“ of an artwork. For Danto, the material object of an artwork is nothing but the embodiment of an intended meaning, metaphorically expressed by the artist and waiting to be reconstructed by its audience. Therefore, an epistemic concept of truth, understood as interpretive validity, seems to be required for maintaining the identity of the artwork.
In this paper, I am trying to show that Danto’s epistemic conditions of interpretive validity are too strong to be maintained in the (ordinary) experience of an artwork. Instead, using the difference between understanding and interpretation, I try to show, following Shusterman and Gadamer, that the experience of the artwork could be democratically reconstructed in the frame of a pluralistic view of the concept of interpretive validity. The necessity of a “hermeneutic” concept of “truth” is thus maintained, given that the artwork and its experience by a concrete public would not be dissociated.

Keywords: ontology of art, interpretation, truth, validity, pluralism, hermeneutics, Danto


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