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The Significance of Behaviour-Related Criteria for Textual Exegesis - and Their Neglect in Indian Studies
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Oriental Languages.
2013 (English)In: Journal of Indian Philosophy, ISSN 0022-1791, E-ISSN 1573-0395, Vol. 41, no 1, 43-55 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Against the background of the fact that speakers not seldom intend to convey imports which deviate from the linguistically expressed meanings of linguistic items, the present article addresses some consequences of this phenomenon which appear to still be neglected in textual studies. It is suggested that understanding behaviour is in some respect a primary objective of exegesis and that due attention must be attributed to the high diversity of behaviour-related criteria by which interpretations of linguistic items are to be evaluated. Although we intimate in addition that individual (meaningful) sentences occurring either in oral conversations or in written documents generally exhibit a multiplicity of contents of diverse types and that the circumstance that sometimes only a content equalling the linguistic significance of a pertinent unit matters for purposes of interpretation is caused by a material coincidence of different varieties of content, the tenets advocated in the paper do not essentially depend on that view. On the other hand, the following assumptions are relevant in the present connection: (a) A number of deviances between imports conveyed by linguistic utterances and literal meanings of expressions occur due to maxims of linguistic behaviour that are quite independent of lexical and syntactic features of individual natural languages. (b) It is by no means an exceptional phenomenon that imports not derivable by grammatical rules of a particular language alone possess primary importance for interpretation and textual exegesis. In view of significant affinities between understanding of sentences and of texts it is argued that the consideration of diverse aspects of behaviour possesses relevance for textual exegesis at least in the following respects: (1) By delivering a heuristic device for discerning problems affecting adopted interpretations it encourages searches for alternatives. (2) It provides means for evaluating the degree of acceptability of particular textual exegeses and possibly rejecting them on a more rational basis than mere intuition. (3) It offers possibilities for critically assessing the validity of explicit arguments advanced in favour of or in opposition to some interpretation. (4) It furnishes a background for assessing certain disputes about translation. The dimension of linguistic behaviour also attains importance in connection with questions of exegesis which are not concerned with assessments of (propositional) contents intended to be communicated, such as the ascertainment of the function which some argument possesses in a context. For substantiating the thesis that omission of raising relevant questions concerning behaviour is not an isolated phenomenon two examples will be employed: (1) A discussion concerning the exegesis of a crucial passage of DignAga's PramAa(1)double dagger asamuccaya and the PramAa(1)double dagger asamuccayava(1)> tti, (2) a critical appraisal of a recent publication dealing with the interpretation of the second chapter of NAgArjuna's MA << lamadhyamakakArikA-s.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 41, no 1, 43-55 p.
Keyword [en]
Philosophy, Textual exegesis, Linguistics
National Category
Cultural Studies Philosophy
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-92621DOI: 10.1007/s10781-013-9183-6ISI: 000321672600002OAI: diva2:641808


Available from: 2013-08-19 Created: 2013-08-14 Last updated: 2015-01-29Bibliographically approved

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Oetke, Claus
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