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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Does Indian Philosophy require experts to be read and understood?


Do we need to philosophically understand the philsophical purport of a text we are working on? Well, would you imagine reading or editing a medical text without understanding anything at all about what it describes?
My purpose in this comparative study is twofold. First, I seek to understand the doctrine of the self as presented in the original Mīmāṃsā texts. To do so, one must achieve a philosophical understanding of the doctrine; one cannot interpret a text adequately—be it philosophical or medical or mathematical, and so forth—unless one understands in some measure independently of the text what it is about. Comparison of the presentation of a philosophical idea in one text with presentations of the same or similar ideas in other texts stimulates philosophical understanding of it, insofar as to comprehend something is to know to what it is similar and from what it is dissimilar. […] My second, subsidiary purpose is to recover a lost argument from the history of Western philosophy. The study of another philosophical tradition often affords a philosopher new perspectives on types of reasoning that exist in his own but, for whatever reasons, have been forgotten or left undeveloped. 
(John Taber, The Mīmāṃsā Theory of Self-Recognition. Philosophy East and West 40 (1), p. 35)
I have been overtly provocative. But what do readers think? Did you ever edit a technical text? Do you think one needs a specific expertise for doing it?

On this topic, see this post (especially the interesting comments by Falecius). On philosophy as a technical subject (and on the opposite view), see this post. For my view on this topic (in case you did not have enough…), see this presentation.

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