Hermeneutical or Deconstructive?
In the previous chapter's discussion of Tibetan monastic education, the notion of commentary was considered unproblematic. Hermeneutically, commentary was examined as an incorporative activity. Pragmatically, the use of commentary was depicted as a continuous process in which texts are studied in the light of oral explanation, appropriated through inquiry, and finally internalized through meditative cultivation. However, this presentation of commentary as continuous and productive is one-sided, for it ignores the other aspect of commentary—its gaps and aporias. This chapter completes the analysis, relying on the post-structuralist critique of commentary to examine the limits of hermeneutical appropriation. The seventeenth-century Ge-luk commentator Jamyang-shay-ba explains the word introduction in the title of Candrakīrti's work as meaning “supplementation.” The post-structuralist critique is perhaps best articulated by Jacques Derrida, who argues that the problem with commentary is that in interpreting a text, it assumes that the meaning of the text can be captured. This chapter also considers Buddhist hermeneutics, as well as midrashic polysemy and Tibetan dialectical creativity.
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