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How did the Bhagavadgata first become an object of German philosophical and philological inquiry? How were its foundational concepts initially interpreted within German intellectual circles, and what does this episode in the history of cross-cultural encounter teach us about the status of comparative philosophy today? This book addresses these questions through a careful study of the figures who read, translated and interpreted the Bhagavadgata around the turn of the nineteenth century in Germany: J.G. Herder, F. Majer, F. Schlegel, A.W. Schlegel, W. von Humboldt, and G.W.F. Hegel. Methodologically, the study attends to the intellectual contexts and prejudices that framed the early reception of the text. But it also delves deeper by investigating the way these frameworks inflected the construction of the Bhagavadgata and its foundational concepts through the scholarly acts of excerpting, anthologization, and translation. Overall, the project contributes to the pluralization of Western philosophy and its history while simultaneously arguing for a continued critical alertness in cross-cultural comparison of philosophical and religious worldviews.
Bradley L. Herling holds a full-time instructorship in the Core Curriculum at Boston University.