Research Project


Towards a Theory of Philological Praxis

Prof. Dr. Christoph König

My book project is entitled "Foundations of a Theory of Philological Practice". I understand philology to be an activity. Philologies are therefore capable of grounding their practice in a reflection upon this activity. They are neither led by purely theoretical concerns, as is literary criticism, nor are they as naïve as philologists often claim. Philological spontaneity is founded, according to the hypothesis, in a non-discursive intelligence. This intelligence is expressed institutionally and historically in highly different ways. A consideration of these differences shows that two epistemological conflicts are at work here: that between historical and aesthetic interest, and that between claims of truth and value judgments (captured most concretely in the word "Bildung"). The interpretation of great texts shows itself to be a central operation, as the intelligence within understanding is capable of mastering both epistemological conflicts. Different institutional forms of expressing a "philological content" are considered. The first examples to be studied are the philological practices in India and China. The concept of a "prognosis" plays an important role in the project’s double systematic-historical viewpoint: as interpretation of a practical intuition (or to use Schleiermacher’s term, "divination"). On the whole, the aim is to develop a theory of philological practice by historically comparing philologies from across the world.

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