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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


The Relationship Between Exegesis (Xungu) and Inter pretation of Classics.

Vol. 32 No. 1   6/2002   


The Relationship Between Exegesis (Xungu) and Interpretation of Classics.


Pao-san Chang









Key words

exegesis (xungu), the interpretation of classics, xiaoxue.


       Exegetics (xunguxue) in traditional Chinese academia belongs to one of the categories of “xiaoxue”. It is usually taken together with etymology and phonetics as “adependency of canonical studies”. This paper aims to give concrete examples of the relationship between exegesis (xungu) and the interpretation of classics. This topic is presented in three sections: the first section discusses exegesis as the foundation in the interpretation of classics; the second section examines the restrictions of canonical perspectives on and interpretations of exegesis; the third section focuses on the limitations of exegesis within the framework of canonical interpretation. In conclusion, this paper argues that exegesis is indeed the basis of canonical interpretation, and that its significance is not to be overlooked. Also, there must be an reason why “xiaoxue”, since ancient times, has been relegated to a dependent status in relation to canonical studies. But, the words in the classics consist of the original meaning, inferred meaning, or borrowed meaning, and , in the process of onterpretation, the interpreter’s understanding of words is often restricted by the canonical perspective and his or her comprehension of the canon. Therefore, exegesis and the interpretation of classics interact. Furthermore, even though exegesis is the basis of canonical interpretation, it is not only way. Hence, exegesis has its limitations in canonical interpretation, and its function shoul d not exaggerated. The so-called “understanding xiaoxue is equivalent to understanding the classics” bu the Qing Qian-Jia scholars is only an ideal; it does not con form to the actual situation of canonical interpretation.



Author: Pao-san Chang
Genre: Article
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