Reading After Metaphysics of Presence

Manifestation of being is a hermeneutical act. It is our belief that being manifests itself is our act seeking understanding . Alethia as revelation of truth manifests being. This revelation is dynamic. Hence, reading in this sense is not bringing out the meaning of a text (Auslegung) but bringing the being to manifestation. It is manifestation of human existence. Reading, therefore, illumines our being-in-the-world. Being is becoming and cannot be enclosed into fixed conceptual categories of meaning. Such a fixation is called metaphysics of presence. Reading can surrender to the metaphysics of presence. It happens when we assume that we can circumscribe exact meaning of the word through our reading. This is because words are intertextual. They bear stronger relations to other words rather than their meaning. Fixation of meaning, therefore, is essentialism and crass positivism. Hence, such a reading is misreading. We close the meaning of text to singular meaning. Hence, meaning of the text has to remain always open for further readings.

Indian dhvani theory of Anandavardhana can assist us to read without falling into the fixations of metaphysics of presence. Dhvani is not the primary meaning of a text. It is its breath or soul. It is an experience of being drawn from the suggested meaning of a text. The text evokes its significance to an attentive reader. What we need is a hermeneutics of poetics. The word dhvani is derived from dhavan which means to reverberate. It evokes the power of resonance and indicates an implied meaning or evoked meaning that flows from the text. It is the suggested meaning which is away from the literal meaning of the text. Reading that avoids the metaphysics of presence accepts the evocative or poetic role of a text. Poetizing the text, such a reading opens the text for a polysemous readings. Dhavni, therefore, is not a matter of moving beyond a literal sense to metaphorical meaning, nor finding a sensus plenior. It is being moved by the soul of the text.

We also have Rasa theory of aesthetics in India. Dhvani resonates with the rasa aesthetics . reading triggers the flavours of emotions or rasas in the reader. The experience of rasa ( rasaanubhava ) sets us into a state of mind or bhava. Reading evokes meaning as well as excitement or emotions in the reader. These emotions can range from joy, sympathy, sorrow, compassion etc. Reading, therefore, affects our existential being-in-the-world. It is not merely a cognitive or intellectual experience but is a holistic sensual (bodily) experience. This is why we may say the same text can produce different responses in different readers. In some it may lead to affirmation or validation of their being-in-the-world. In others, it may lead to interrogation of their being-in-the-world. This means the text begin to speak to different readers differently producing different affects in them. The text, therefore, become an important side that addresses our being-in-the-world.

Heideggerian Hermeneutics and Indian Dhvani theory seems to meet in zone that take us to a post metaphysics of presence. They interanimate each other. There is appropriation of dhavani theory by Jacques Lacan too. For Lacan as well as for Bhartihari, Word is a Word of God, Shabda Brahman. Hence, word is the originary symbol and the cause of other symbolic signification. The Word stands between us and the world. The Word mediates the world. The Word is opaque and not transperent. The self attaches several meanings to words. The same Word can have diametrically opposite meaning for two different persons. Hence, reading a text in post metaphysics of presence scenario opens us to multiple or plural readings. Text becomes fertile and reader becomes productive.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao