By Bradley L. Herling

Publish yr note: First released April 1st 2009

How did the Bhagavadgata first develop into an item of German philosophical and philological inquiry? How have been its foundational thoughts before everything interpreted inside German highbrow circles, and what does this episode within the historical past of cross-cultural come across educate us in regards to the prestige of comparative philosophy this present day?

This booklet addresses those questions via a cautious examine of the figures who learn, translated and interpreted the Bhagavadgata round the flip of the 19th century in Germany: J.G. Herder, F. Majer, F. Schlegel, A.W. Schlegel, W. von Humboldt, and G.W.F. Hegel. Methodologically, the learn attends to the highbrow contexts and prejudices that framed the early reception of the textual content. however it additionally delves deeper by means of investigating the way in which those frameworks inflected the development of the Bhagavadgata and its foundational ideas during the scholarly acts of excerpting, anthologization, and translation.

Overall, the venture contributes to the pluralization of Western philosophy and its background whereas concurrently arguing for a endured severe alertness in cross-cultural comparability of philosophical and non secular worldviews."

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Logos, on this account, is indeed a prejudice of its own (even as a "prejudice against prejudices," to use Gadamer's phrase), but with a special capacity to dislodge many other forms of hermeneutical distortion. The individual scholar or intellectual thus has the power to add to and craft this mediation-but only, I would claim, under the aegis of guiding terms and concerns that are significant to local discussions and debates. In my investigation of the reception of the Gitii by German intellectuals, for example, I have found that the intellectual community in question tended to orbit around a regular set of concepts.

Prejudices come out of the tradition and deliver themselves up to the present, which strongly inflects them with its own concerns, but the very challenge posed by the alien character of the past lights up the limited "horizon" of these concerns, especially when the past stands before us in a complicated and unfamiliar textual form. The present can only stand in a challenged and sometimes tense relation with a historical Other that is, in its essence, irretrievable. But the historical only has the capacity to offer its truths about the present by being invoked and recalled by the present.

55 In addition, even if a certain agreement on the authority of philological and technical logos is achieved, this does not render translation immune from the myths, conceptions, and styles that infuse scholarly activity. And yet, further, even with the greatest level of technical specificity, some concepts and grammatical structures simply cannot be conveyed in another language. They require explanations and annotations, and this once again introduces the interpretive, commentarial element into translation practice.

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