Challenging Partial Intentionalism

Journal of Visual Arts Practice 7 (1):85-94 (2008)
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Paisley Livingston claims that an artist’s intentions are successfully realized and hence determinate of the meaning of a work if and only if they are compatible and “mesh” with the linguistic and conventional meanings of the text or artefact taken in its target or intended context. I argue that this specific standard of success is not without its difficulties. First, I show how an artist’s intention can sometimes be constitutive of a work’s meaning even if there is no significant meshing between the artist’s intention and his work. Second, I argue against the claim that the artist’s intentions need to be compatible with the linguistic and conventional meanings of a text. Third, I discuss a case that creates a particular puzzle for Livingston since the intentions of the artist concerned are clearly not successfully realized, though they are compatible and mesh with all the relevant data. I conclude my paper by suggesting a solution to this puzzle.

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Hans Maes
University of Kent


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