It creeps me out when people talk about theories about what a story "means" in lit theory.
What lit scholars are arguing about doesn't seem to be:
-what the truth conditions for the story are (how could a story even have truth conditions anyways?)
-(just) what is supposed to be true in the fictional world of the story
-what the truth conditions are for various sentences in the story?
Arguments about the following things just don't seem to have much to do with the *meanings* of words or sentences, in any thing like the ordinary sense in which a sentence can express a proposition.
-whether the story is a satire or work in praise
-whether x passage is an allusion to y
-whether the story is "about" a certain theme e.g. incest, the reader's predicament, democracy etc.
I propose that literary disputes, conflicts between different "readings" etc. would be better understood as disagreements about what the text objectively appears to be trying to get the reader to do.
- a satire would be a text that's suggestive of authorial intent to get you to criticize,
- a work in praise, something suggestive of authorial intent to get you to admire,
- an allusion to y, something suggestive of authorial intent to get you to consider y and compare it to the work at hand
- a story with a theme, something suggestive of authorial intent to get you to consider how different parts of the story, find and compare different ways in which it does.
[p.s. hmm these are quasi purposive explanations of why something occurs in the text (e.g. it's as if the story contains this line, in order to provoke the readers general faculties of intellect and imagination to recall text y, and compare it to the text) so this fits nicely with the neo-Kantian thing i'm generally pushing]