San Diego Law Review


Stanley Fish

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type

Symposium Article


The Author argues that there is no textualist position because there is no candidate on behalf of whom a would-be textualist could argue. He argues that lexical items and grammatical structures by themselves will yield no meaning - will not even me seen as lexical items and grammatical structures - until they are seen as having been produced by some intentional agent. A text whose meaning seems perspicuous and obvious right off the bat is a text for which an intentional context has already been assumed, and it is also a text whose clarity and stability can always be troubled by an argument designed to put another intentional context in place. It is the specification or assumption of intention that comes first; the fact of a text with meaning comes second. The text, in short, has no independence; it is an entirely derivative entity - something else must be in place before it can emerge, as text - and as a derivative entity it cannot said to be the source or location of meaning.

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