The Art of Interpretation: Reading, Hermeneutics, and Analysis from a Global Perspective

Presented by: Michael Puett

When: 9:15 – 10:15 am Section 3: Hermeneutics and Tools; Panel 5, 5C

Abstract: A flourishing debate has raged across the humanities through much of the twentieth and now early twenty-first centuries concerning theories of interpretation and hermeneutics.  Notably absent from these discussions, however, have been theories and practices of interpretation that had been developed, practiced, and debated outside of the Euro-American world. 

The goal of this paper will be to begin the work of bringing some of the theories and practices from classical China into Euro-American discussions.  I will explore some of the debates concerning interpretation and hermeneutics that arose in classical China, and will then compare these both with theories dominant in the Euro-American world as well as with common practices in the classroom.  Finally, I will offer suggestions for how we might take seriously some of the theories and practices from classical China and how they could be developed pedagogically to re-think humanistic practice in the twenty-first century.