A Rule for Charitable Interpretation

When attempting to ascertain the meaning of what someone has said, and the speaker’s grammar or syntax indicates a meaning that’s flat out absurd, it is charitable to assume that the speaker misspoke and meant something else.  Or that the speaker is a philosopher.

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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3 Responses

  1. MikeSchilling says:

    Sorry, I think Bush really did put food on his family.

  2. J.L. Wall says:

    This is actually a very ancient rule, Kyle, going back to the origins of Western philosophy, as a classmate of mine observed after assuming that Socrates could not have meant to say “butterfly” at some point and spending about an hour poring through lexicons to find an alternate meaning for whatever the Greek was — only to find out that, indeed, the Bearded One was making nonsensical comparisons to butterflies.

    Of course, she phrased this conclusion somewhat differently — “Well, fish you, Socrates!”