The present essay thinks along the comparative, philosophical lines that Cheng Chung-ying's project of "onto-hermeneutics" draws in order to shed light on the relations between ontology and epistemology in the hermeneutic act. In the process, not only will we be thinking with Cheng and some Western hermeneutic theorists, but we will also be thinking through history by examining the Confucian act of reading. To the extent that any hermeneutic exercise, in accordance with Cheng's construal, cannot merely be a disembodied act of theoretical knowing but is also moral effort that entails personal cultivation-or, in Heidegger's and Gadamer's terms, Bildung-its espousal and its practice necessarily embody a larger conception of culture. In fact, precisely in terms of the intimate engagement with culture, Confucian insights, filtered through Cheng's onto-hermeneutic lenses, may have much to offer contemporary hermeneutics.
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