Literal means and hidden meanings: A new analysis of skillful means

Philosophy East and West 59 (2):pp. 125-141 (2009)
Abstract
The Buddhist concept of skillful means , as introduced inMahāyāna sūtras, exposes a new awareness of the gap between text and meaning. Although the term is sometimes taken to point to the Buddha's pedagogical skills, this interpretation ignores the provocative use of the term in Mahāyāna texts. Treating skillful means as a universal Buddhist concept also fails to explain why and for what purpose it first became predominant in the Mahāyāna. Looking at the use of skillful means in the Lotus Sūtra and in the Skill in Means Sūtra reveals a hermeneutic device aimed at criticizing an existing corpus of Buddhist literature. As such, skillful means is used to demonstrate that the old doctrine and the life of the Buddha contained fictitious features and were nothing but skillful means. This indicates a growing awareness of a gap between literal expressions and their hidden meaning that can only arise after some kind of religious corpus has been established.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1353/pew.0.0050
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 29,530
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Minding the Gap.Kent Bach - 2004 - In Claudia Bianchi (ed.), The Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction. CSLI Publications. pp. 27--43.
Empty Self.Stephen David Ross - 2010 - International Studies in Philosophy Monograph Series:233-268.
Nagarjuna and the Doctrine of "Skillful Means&Quot.John Schroeder - 2000 - Philosophy East and West 50 (4):559-583.
Skillful in Means: The Buddha and the Whiteheadian God.Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki - 2001 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 28 (4):415–428.
Nāgārjuna and the Doctrine of "Skillful Means".John Schroeder - 2000 - Philosophy East and West 50 (4):559-583.
Added to PP index
2009-04-18

Total downloads
29 ( #188,992 of 2,210,782 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #357,944 of 2,210,782 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature