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February 17, 2008

Comments

Bernard Brandt

Dear Fr. O'Leary:

I would like to thank you, once again, for opening vistas for me, although my French is terribly rusty (a fault which I intend on soon repairing), and I may have misunderstood the theses which you have expressed here. If I am mistaken, I hope that you will have the kindness to correct me.

Nonetheless, I appreciate your confessions regarding your progress through phenomenology, pluralism, the deconstruction of Derrida, and your current researches in Buddhism as bases for a Christian hermaneutic.

More particularly, your writings have been a helpful corrective to my original (and quite probably mistaken) impression of Derrida as an exponent of the Emperor's New Culture, and I am looking forward to conducting a more impartial study of deconstruction as a tool for the interpretation of texts.

I fully concur with your assessment that just as the historical-critical method has borne useful fruit in the interpretation of Scripture and Patristics, so also may the tools of literary criticism.

While I would tend to disagree with your conclusion of phenomenology as a "dead end", as I think that it permits a modernization of Neo-platonism, I would agree that in the end, St. Thomas' critique of his own work as "so much straw" might equally apply to Husserl and Heidegger.

Finally, I fully agree with you that the study of Buddhism might very well assist in a clearer Christian hermaneutic. To that end, I have begun the study of Chinese and several other asian languages, as I wish to make further, and more direct, studies in the origins of Chan (or Zen) Buddhism in China, and possible Taoist influences upon its development.

I look forward to reading more from you in future, and more particularly, I intend on obtaining and reading the three essays of yours which you cited at the beginning of this entry.

Very truly yours,

Bernard Brandt

Spirit of Vatican II

Bernard, thanks for your kind remarks.

I would not say phenomenology is a dead end -- only that the goal of phenomenology as understood by phenomenological purists such as Husserl and Marion is unattainable. As a method or orientation, and as a reservoir of critical resistance to an imperialism of the Concept, phenomenology remains of great value.

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