Professor Jerrold Levinson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is author of numerous books including Contemplating Art, and The Pleasures of Aesthetics: Philosophical Essays.
Thanks so much for your kindness in allowing us to interview you.
You have stressed the distinction between categorial intentions (how the work is to be fundamentally conceived or approached), and semantic intentions (the artist's intentions to mean something by a text or artefact).
Firstly, is this distinction always so clear?
Might the categorial intention be formed by a multitude of individual semantic intentions?
Indeed, the distinction is not always so clear, partly because some genres are in part defined by their meanings. But that said, I don't see how an array of semantic intentions could ever amount to a categorial intention all by themselves, as they are intentions of a different form or different order.
Secondly, you appear to put more confidence in an artist's categorial intentions than semantic intentions in regards determining a work's meaning,
but surely both can fail?