Comparative Hermeneutics

Two seminars [6 units] are devoted to exploring the major methodological approaches to the theory and practice of interpretation as framed through the academic, cultural, and intellectual thought-ways of the West. Particular attention will be given to examining the strategies and preconceptions at work as Western thinkers view, present, and attempt to interpret Buddhist texts and practices.

The first 3-unit seminar focuses on the origins, aims, and scope of this interpretive framework as it manifests across the academic disciplines [sociology, psychology, history, anthropology, religious studies, and more recently, some of the sciences]. It explores the unique problems, challenges, and opportunities the Buddhist tradition faces in coming to terms with Western academic discourse.

The second 3-unit seminar looks at more contemporary trends and issues presented from philosophy, science, humanities, and the arts and the social and cultural forces that impact and are impacted by the Buddhist tradition. Particular attention is given to the question of how Buddhist classical texts might engage and inform new developments in modern science, philosophy, technology, and religion.

Selections will include: Mircea Eliade, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx, E. B. Taylor, Max Muller, James Frazer, Friedrich Schleirmacher, Martin Heidegger, Wilhelm Dilthey, William James, Joachim Wach, Rudolf Otto, Clifford Geertz, Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, J. Lacan, Gilles Deleuze, Seyyed Nasr, and Pierre Hadot.