One Name, Infinite Meanings: Jizang's Thought on Meaning and Reference

Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39 (3):436-452 (2012)
Abstract
Jizang sets forth a hermeneutical theory of “one name, infinite meanings” that proposes four types of interpretation of word meaning to the effect that a nominal word X means X, non-X, the negation of X, and all things whatsoever. In this article, I offer an analysis of the theory, with a view to elucidating Jizang's thought on meaning and reference and considering its contemporary significance. The theory, I argue, may best be viewed as an expedient means for telling us how to use words provisionally without any definite understanding of their referents.
Keywords Jizang  nonacquisition  meaning  reference  provisional word
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