[Buddha-l] Re: Can an Air Force cadet have Buddha nature?

Randall Jones rjones at cm.ksc.co.th
Fri May 20 20:52:17 MDT 2005

At 10:46 PM 5/19/2005, Richard P. Hayes wrote:

 > When one has the luxury of being able to communicate with an author and
 > ask what the intention was behind certain words, then hermeneutics is
 > not quite so risky. One can just ask for clarification, and usually it
 > helps.

My response to your question about what I meant was not, of course, 
entirely based on remembering what I had been thinking when I wrote the 
first email.  It was much more in the nature of a response or 
reconstruction based on reading what I had written.  Asking an author (me, 
anyway) for clarification of meaning is a way of "continuing the 
conversation" . . . and that can be very important . . . but it's not 
necessarily a way of finding out what the author/I meant.  (Its not even 
clear, in my case, that youll get a response from the same author.  The I 
is pretty variable.)

I would like to mention the principle of charity, alongside your mention of 
a hermeneutics of suspicion.  I teach young learners of English and in that 
context I take the principle of charity to say that I must treat their 
utterances as meaningful.  I think my conscious adoption of this principle 
is the reason I can have real conversations with new English speakers long 
before other teachers are able to.  I think this principle (or something 
like it) must be operative in all verbal interactions or there will be no 
conversation.  So, while the hermeneutics of suspicion might short-circuit 
interaction, so would a failure to apply a principle of charity.  (Maybe 
the principle comes in the prologue to conversation, the attuning to each 
other which I think Paul Ricoeur has written about.)

And might not a principle of charity remind us of compassion?   (Well, I 
don't think that word is right, but it does sound sort of Buddhist.)


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