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Open secrets: reading and understanding

Open secrets: reading and understanding DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9373-8 BOOK REVIEW James Douglas Fleming: Milton's secrecy and philosophical hermeneutics, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Hampshire, 2008, xiv + 196 pp, 55.00 HB Sandra Lynch Published online: 11 March 2010 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010 This scholarly and engaging text focuses on John Milton's poetry and prose as the locus of a hermeneutic model of the interpretation of meaning which is radically different from modern scientific understandings of interpretation as a matter of discovery or the uncovering of knowledge. Milton's reader is seen as invited to recognise and empowered to understand his texts in a process which violates the commonsense opposition between intention and expression. The standard that Adam articulates in Paradise Lost is ``the standard of intention maintained in unity with expression, inwardness with outwardness'' (p. 91). Fleming criticises both strong intentionalism and the exclusion of strong intentionalism as interpretative principles; the former because it undermines the stability it appears to promise and the latter because it cannot overcome the prima facie plausibility of the intentionalist impulse. While trivial expressions might be usefully analysed on a strong intentionalist model, ``the more worth saying something is--the more it makes a genuine contribution to our understanding--the less we http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Metascience Springer Journals

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