Reading with understanding: Interpretive method in Chinese philosophy

Abstract

Sinologists tend toward self-descriptions of their methodology that suggests that they read ancient Chinese Philosophy texts and then interpret them as separate steps. The "reading" is what training in the language is supposed to enable and interpreters who are skeptical of traditional readings (e.g. the present author) can be portrayed as people who have not learned (or not learned properly) how to read. I argue here that reading in its natural sense in this context presupposes understanding, that is, a theory of meaning. The theory requires justification and that the best framework for a justification theory is radical translation using the principle of humanity as the guide for selecting from among translation manuals.

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Chad Hansen
University of Hong Kong

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