Finnegans Wake as a system of knowledge without primitive terms : proposal against the paradigm of competence in the so-called Joyce industry

The thesis challenges the paradigm of hierarchical interpretive competence adopted in the academic community engaged in the professional (i.e. paid) study of the text called Finnegans Wake (FW) attributed to James Joyce. It is argued that having generated an excess of data, the exegete of FW deprived themselves of primitive terms, i.e. fundamental, undefined terms whose meaning is revealed by intuition. It is argued that there exist no consistent criteria for establishing a hierarchy of hermeneutical competence about FW as a literary text. The existing models of competence are either extraliterary (i.e. not concerned primarily with FW as a literary text) or inconsistent. The existing inconsistent models do not include explanations how one (i) adjudicates conflicts between exegetes on the same level in a hierarchy, (ii) categorises claims which (in addition to their initial vagueness) cannot be conflicted, (iii) categorises equivalent claims made with different means, and (iv) categorises different claims made with equivalent means. The thesis takes on three important tenets promoted in the interpretive industry: (i) the text principle, saying that FW is a prosaic text, a specimen of literature, (ii) the author principle, saying that FW is Joyces work, and (iii) the language principle, saying that the language of the text is English. Against the text and author principles, Chapter 1 presents FW as a vastly polyauthorial and polytextual polyreferentiality. Against the language principle, Chapter 2 promotes as optimal the position that the language of the source text (Wakese) is unknown. Chapter 3 discusses the academic paradigm of competence and its extraliterary motivations. The thesis urges the interpretive industry to uphold their paradigm of competence by naming the value of its otherwise unjustified control over the literary interpretation of FW or to gain coherence by exposing their extraliterary motivation.


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