Monday, 17 May 2010

Haunted by language

In a culture that is reputed for its apophatism, it is initially surprising to find De Smet writing:
More than most human beings, Sankara is haunted by language. ("Sankara's Perspective on Meaning and Truth," Hermeneutics, Truth and/or Meaning, ed. J. Maliekal. Kondadaba: St John's Regional Seminary, 1994. 51)
And of course, De Smet is among those who have done most to uncover this haunting, by concentrating on Sankara's exegesis of the five varieties of mahavakyas, with the help of the (then well-known) distinctions between the primary and the secondary meanings of words.

Despite this, it is good to keep in mind also this: that Sankara is "the foremost master among Indian schoolmen as well as a staunch upholder of negative theology." (Ibid. 50)

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