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On Reading the Chinese Canons: In Search of the Interpretive Context

Dept. of Religion and Philosophy (February 28, 2022)

SEMINAR SERIES : Online Colloquium

MAJOR SPEAKER : Ames, Roger T.
LENGTH : 112 min.
ACCESS : Open to all
SUMMARY : “Translating” means quite literally “carrying across”—that is, “to remove from one place to another.” To what extent have we been successful in first understanding the Chinese philosophical narrative and then in “carrying it across” into the Western academy? And then to what extent have we been able to grow and “appreciate” (in the sense of value-added) our own philosophical parameters by engaging with this antique tradition?

Wittgenstein famously observes: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” The self-conscious strategy of textual translation, then, must be to go beyond word-for-word translation and attempt to enable students of Chinese philosophy to read the seminal texts by providing these students with a means of developing their own sophisticated understanding of a set of critical Chinese philosophical terms. But more fundamentally, allowing Chinese philosophy to speak for itself requires a cultural translation that informs these same terms. It is in this effort to take Chinese philosophy on its own terms then, that we must begin from the interpretive context by taking into account the tradition's own indigenous presuppositions and its own evolving self-understanding. As a precondition for philosophizing together with the Chinese canonical texts, we must be aware of the ambient, persistent assumptions that have given the Chinese philosophical narrative its unique identity over time.  [Go to the full record in the library's catalogue]

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