Meditation and the Art of Hermeneutics. Approaching the Notion of Subject and Object in Research on Non Subject-Object Phenomena

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:20 AM
Room: 416
Oral Presentation
Thea D. BOLDT , Sociological Foundations of Case Studies, Guest Professor, Kassel, Germany
Even though in the last 20 years an increasing interest of academics in the spread of Buddhism in ‚the West’ can be observed and enough has been said about this process to establish Western Buddhist Studies as a new academic discipline, there is still a limited knowledge about the meaning of Tantric Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices, especially as performed by the ‚Western’ buddhist disciples.

Leaving the common missunderstanding of Tantra as „esoteric teachings bloated with sex and power” behind (as suggested by Herbert V. Guenther 1974: 12), the paper is aiming to relate to the core of the Tantric Tibetan Buddhist meditation, in particular to the so called Meditation on the Nature of Mind (Mahamudra and Maha Ati), and comprehend it as an advanced scientific and synaestetic (cf. Helmuth Plessner 1923) performance ­­­leading the buddhist practitioner to the dissolution of subject-object duality in perception of the phenomenal world.

The paper will work toward a methodological repertoir in order to approach the field of studies on meditation practice(s) from the viewpoint of a participative social scientist. It’ll explore the possibilities of synchronising the methodology of meditation and the phenomenological practice of social science. It’ll search for further ethnographic means of „not speaking about“ (cf. Trinh T. Minh-ha) as well as for videography as a tool of hermeneutic knowledge production in the tension between on-this-side-of and beyond the subject-object division.


Guenther, Herbert V. (1974): Tantra als Lebensanschauung. Bern, München & Wien: Scherz Verlag.

Plessner, Helmuth (1923): Die Einheit der Sinne. Grundlinien einer Ästhesiologie des Geistes, Bonn.

Minh-ha, Trinh T. (1982): Reassemblage. Film