By Bradley L. Herling
Publish yr note: First released April 1st 2009
How did the Bhagavadgata first turn into an item of German philosophical and philological inquiry? How have been its foundational recommendations firstly interpreted inside German highbrow circles, and what does this episode within the historical past of cross-cultural come across train us in regards to the prestige of comparative philosophy this present day?
This e-book addresses those questions via a cautious research of the figures who learn, translated and interpreted the Bhagavadgata round the flip of the 19th century in Germany: J.G. Herder, F. Majer, F. Schlegel, A.W. Schlegel, W. von Humboldt, and G.W.F. Hegel. Methodologically, the research attends to the highbrow contexts and prejudices that framed the early reception of the textual content. however it additionally delves deeper by way of investigating the way in which those frameworks inflected the development of the Bhagavadgata and its foundational techniques throughout the scholarly acts of excerpting, anthologization, and translation.
Overall, the venture contributes to the pluralization of Western philosophy and its heritage whereas at the same time arguing for a endured serious alertness in cross-cultural comparability of philosophical and spiritual worldviews."
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Additional resources for The German Gītā: Hermeneutics and Discipline in the Early German Reception of Indian Thought
Cross-cultural understanding could not have progressed in any other way. Following Gadamer, Halbfass sees the real danger in a much more recent development that is decidedly opposed to hermeneutical openness: the encroaching "Europeanization of the earth" through science, technology, and globalization, which dilutes and subsumes all cultural horizons (166-170). Even with regard to prejudices that seemed destined to suppress and exclude Indian thought from serious consideration with in Western philosophy, Halbfass, a vigorous spokesman for the richness of Indian thought systems, defers to a hermeneutic framework.
No compelling reason why . . hermeneutical concepts and perspectives should not be applicable in a wider, trans-cultural context" (166). In fact, Halbfass's account derives this insight from his historical investigation of the reception of India by European thinkers, and he discerns evidence of the "trans-cultural" hermeneutical circle in the writings of European missionaries (53), Herder (71-72), Friedrich Schlegel (and the new Indological discipline that his work inspired) (80-83), and even Hegel (96-99).
Both impulses are present in my own study, and I will be confirming many of Figueira's results and attempting to extend on her many valuable insights. Because of the disciplinary location of this project, however, a perspective that is more attuned to concerns within religious studies and comparative philosophy is also necessary. Richard King's recent works Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and 'The Mystic East' and Indian Philosophy: An Introduction to Hindu and Buddhist Thought represent that perspective.
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