Still struggling with the paper for Boston 2010. Backbreaking! You work through the year, and then through the summer, and then the year begins again... But then, what would I do if there were nothing to do?
At any rate: the first part of the paper, which is a Lonerganish background attempting to unfold what "Retrieving Good Work" might mean, seems to be relatively stable. I began, strangely, only now to understand the difference between the hermeneutical canon of relevance and the the canon of explanation. These two seem to parallel the later distinction between the functional specialities interpretation and history, except that 'determining the particular viewpoint' is shifted out to dialectic.
The second part is the tricky one: there are no paths here. As McShane wrote to me, you have to create the path here, and that is done by walking!
All these days I was working at a sort of 'raising of categories' in Sankara as seen by De Smet: judgment (pratyaksa, which is sense perception), understanding (clearly Sankara is intellectualist), experience (the Buddhists and the Purva Mimamsakas speak of bare sensation or the nirvikalpa phase of pratyaksa, but I have not found Sankara doing so; but Sankara does, of course, speak of consciousness, and he has a notion of consciousness as experience, I propose); intellectual dynamism, being (I found that very difficult, because Sankara has so many things to say on this point, and it is one of the controverted points!), objectivity (yathatmya; the self-validity of judgment or sva-prakasatva, which De Smet says is the only sensible approach to knowing). I was trying to work out also the 'metaphysical' categories (cause, relation, tadatmya, atman) but did not get far.
Yesterday another approach: De Smet himself provides three points: (1) establishing that Sankara is a srutivadin, a theologian, an exegete of scripture, rather than a systematic philosopher; (2) showing that Sankara's extra-textual understanding of understanding and of meaning (intellection and vakya, in his terms) determines his exegesis; (3) the interpretation itself: Sankara as non-dualist rather than acosmist or monist.
These points correspond neatly to (1) establishing the level of expression and stage of meaning; (2) showing how cognitional theory and its extensions - generalized method or the general and special categories - influence exegesis; (3) the exegesis itself.
Will it work? Let's hope so.