January 29, 2006

Circle of understanding

The central notion of the circle of understanding says that the parts of a text must be understood in terms of the whole and the whole in terms of the parts in an unceasing circular movement. This implies that before we start with a part, we already have some vague notion of what the whole is about and an anticipation of its coherence and meaningful unity. As we make the to and fro movement between the parts and the whole, each yields a clearer and determinate meaning, a meaning moreover, which has nothing to do with the life and the mind or times of the author but solely with the matter which finds expression in the text, with an impersonal, intelligible and coherent sense. When we take up an ancient text, seeking to understand it and expecting it to speak to us, deep calling to our deep, we do so with certain presuppositions, inexplicit and unconscious, never with an empty, unprepossessed mind. (J.L.Mehta: 166) # posted by Tusar N Mohapatra Thursday, October 13, 2005: 5:23 PM

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