Comparative Hermeneutics

Two seminars (6 units) are devoted to exploring the major methodological approaches to the theory and practice of interpretation as framed through the cultural and intellectual thought-ways of the West. Particular attention will be given to examining the strategies and preconceptions at work as Western thinkers view, present, and attempt to interpret Buddhist texts and practices.

The two courses examine the origins, aims, and scope of foundational Western philosophical approaches (Platonism, empiricism, rationalism, pragmatism, linguistic, existentialism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism) through their primary texts. The course attempts to understand these approaches as “lenses” through which Buddhism is interpreted in the West, and as potential hermeneutical “tools” for bringing Buddhist ideas and concepts into a deep dialogue with the modern mind.

Readings may include selected works by: Plato, Rene Descartes, David Hume, Immanual Kant, G.W.H. Hegel, Karl Marx, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, William James, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Lacan, Pierre Hadot, Jean-François Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze, Luce Irigaray, Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler.