Indology: magic, methods and management

thompson at thompson at
Thu May 30 15:46:30 UTC 1996

On a level of very great generality, at least, it would appear that we all
agree with each other: the right hand [philology] needs to know what the
left hand [theory] is doing, and vice versa.  The disagreements seem to
arise when we get down to specifics.  I believe that Houben's criticism of
Deeg's book [which I admit I have not seen] is valid insofar as Deeg fails
to keep current with theory.  Houben acknowledges the book's value to
"Indological specialists" insofar as it is philologically well-grounded:
i.e., as Houben says,

"The author's collection of pre-Yaaska etymologies is useful, and I like
his references to the importance of <<etymologies>> in the work of modern
thinkers like Heidegger."  [Yes, Heidegger's famous "die Sprache
spricht..." reminds me of the goddess VAc, who herself says "aha'm eva'
vA'ta iva pra' vAmi.... She is fond of alliteration as well as figura

But I suspect [with Houben, I think] that many Indologists would have found
Deeg's book entirely adequate as it stands, minus current theory. For such
scholars, "the presentation of the facts" is enough.  As it stands, Deeg's
book will remain useful to us, no doubt like Grassmann's dictionary.

Those who are fond of philology pay lip service to theory when necessary.
Likewise those who are fond of theory will pay lip service to philology,
but *only* when necessary.  But their true colors appear in their work.

George Thompson

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