The Other in Interpretation:

From Theory to Practice

As a preliminary note, I should mention the general assumption taken for granted in this paper. Namely, that a certain relationship with the Other is always present (presupposed or actually developed) in any interpretation – be it in theory or practice, systematic or totally spontaneous. Now, my purpose here is to point out exactly what kind of a relationship we are dealing with, and if it is the one and the same in theories and practices of interpretation.

So the picture which I shall draw will be a “map” showing some of the main theoretic accounts of interpretation and the kind of relationship set forth by each of them; the key terms of reference (or the ‘legend’ of the map) are the three subjects most likely to be engaged in a relationship within the process of interpretation:

  • the interpreter, or the self;
  • the author of the text, sign, or message to be interpreted; I propose we call this one the first Other;
  • the reader or audience for whom the text, sign or message was initially addressed (and who can be the same, or not, with the interpreter); I shall call this one the second Other.

These are the agents whom we can find engaged in different kinds of relationships throughout the process of interpretation.

I shall begin with a few considerations on interpretation itself.

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