Abstract

This study asks two related questions. First, how did the Chinese Buddhists generally think of the nature of interpretation? Second, how did they address the issue of inconsistency inherent in their answer to the first question? The first answer is straightforward, for the model of "truth, teaching, and interpretation" is widely accepted as the "standard formulation" of the nature of interpretation. This answer, however, has an obvious flaw: if the very reason why teaching requires interpretation lies in its unavoidable dependence on intellection, which obstructs its effective transmission of truth, how can interpretation, which is equally if not more reliant on intellection, adequately transmit the truth in a way in which teaching fails? The second answer thus addresses this inconsistency. It argues that while there has never been an explicitly formulated answer to this question, theoretical reflections on unrelated topics seem to have created a general intellectual atmosphere that would allow people to ignore or at least comfortably live with the obvious inconsistency, that is, an atmosphere that would supplement and, in that sense, justify and sustain the answer to the first question; unformulated but supplementary, such theoretical reflections constitute the implicit corollaries of the standard formulation.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 153-175
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-09
Open Access
No
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