Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Exegezing Confucian Writings

Confucian Hermeneutics

Why commentaries are never definitive.
by Kelly James Clark

Until the late modern era in the West and even more recently in the East, the primary mode of philosophical and theological expression was the commentary. In the medieval commentarial tradition, ideas were expressed as both explications and extensions of accepted traditions. In contrast to scholars in the contemporary academy, where novelty is esteemed and tradition denigrated, medieval commentators characteristically allied themselves with a set of "canonical" texts. More important than developing a system was the understanding of texts; hermeneutics was the primary tool, with system-building secondary. The hermeneutical approach was seen not simply as a means to understanding a text but also to grasping reality.

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