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ib4walrus's picture

 In Anne's discussion group on Thursday we touched on whether differing interpretations of what someone says or anything else they may put out there for the public and how to judge if any interpretations were "inaccurate".  This was not referring to outright lies and intentionally misleading others such as quoting "he hates _____" when the actual quote was "he loves ____".  Rather, we were trying to see if it is wrong to personally interpret someone's words as the original meanings may be lost during the process.  Personally, I feel that there are labelling it interpretations as wrong or right would not be very effective, rather it should be on a degree scale.  Extreme interpretations which lose most of the original meanings wouldn't count only because of the absence of the original intention.  However, I feel that alterations of the original meanings are completely fine if it is due to personal experiences/backgrounds/etc.  But in order to keep the integrity of the original meaning it shouldn't be completely misconstrued in a way so that it becomes something hateful or completely different.

Currently it may seem like I'm contradicting myself, how could would it be possible to respect differing interpretations and say that none are wrong if not all interpretations would be accepted?  I guess the issue I was having with the discussion was the labeling of someone being "wrong" or inaccurate if they're understanding or what they took from another person's words isn't exactly the same as the original meaning.  I feel that after words leave a person's mouth, they no longer have control over it.  They have to accept meanings may be lost due to interpretations.  Additionally, if interpretations didn't exist, it would definitely be a limitation on the (cultural) diversity of language and understanding.  And really, who would want to stop evolution in this sense?


Sarah Schnellbacher's picture

How "can not" can change

I agree that interpretation of literature is not always falsifying the literature, sometimes directly quoting something can be more misleading than interpretation. I recall from when I was a kid my sister dying her hair black. My mom hated it and quoted a bible passage "Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black" (Mat 5:36 KJV). I interpret this to mean that one did not have the ability to change one's hair color in biblical times and not that it is wrong to dye your hair. Interpretations must be open to change with new technology or we will be forced to either cease technological advance or abandon any old texts for the two to coincide without the flexibility of interpretation.

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