Hermeneutic Praxis: The Yoga of Reason(ing)

Karl-Stéphan Bouthillette


Could the presuppositions behind the distinction between theory and practice in the realm of yoga be misguided, if not misleading? To approach this question, this paper drafts a meta-perspective gleaned from the thought of three thinkers credited with the earliest Indian doxographies, namely the sixth-century philosopher of Madhyamaka Buddhism, Bhāviveka, the seventh-century Jaina logician Haribhadra Sūri, and the eighth-century Advaita-Vedānta philosopher Śaṅkarācārya. The paper examines the notion of “view” entertained in Indian thought, and suggests that yoga is particularly interested in shaping views. It draws a distinction between the notions of “practice” and “praxis,” arguing that the latter best captures the “yoga” of our authors. The paper then discusses the transformative role of hermeneutics and how, when combined with dialectic, it captures the essence of “scholastic praxis.” Finally, it presents a traditional framework to elucidate the interplay of hermeneutic praxis and soteriology within Buddhism, with brief references to similar patterns in the work of our two non-Buddhist authors. The self-transformative aspect of hermeneutics has so far received little attention and requires further research. This paper is an attempt in that direction.

Słowa kluczowe: yoga, rozumowanie, dialektyka, hermeneutyka, praxis

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