Care with criticism (was: Sanskrit translations in Nazi hands)

jonathan silk at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 24 15:01:36 UTC 1998

Rolf Koch wrote:
> Check for example only one publication of
>ALSDORF very carefully and believe nothing, check the manuscripts and
>compare it with the texts as given by ALSDORF: you will be surprised. I
>have checked nearly all publications of ALSDORF, they may be ignored all
>together:  the Studies on the Uttarajjhayana, The Kumarapalapratibodha,
>The Agadadatta-story, or, another wonderful example: The translation of
>the Prakrit Kokasa-tale. Be again very carefully in the publications of
>METTE etc.(pupil of ALSDORF, as BRUHN - as far as I know).

I am sure I am far from the only member of this list who would prefer
*very* detailed documentation of such charges. Moreover, I also feel
(perhaps unreflectively and emotionally) that it is one thing to criticize
a dead scholar such as Alsdorf -- or I should more carefully say, the
scholarship of the dead; there is little damage one can do to Alsdorf's
career or his happiness now, I think. It is quite another to criticize the
living. The scholarship of no one is beyond critique, to be sure. But we
owe it to the field and to each individual to undertake such criticism with
the utmost care and humility. I have never met Drs Metter or Bruhn, but I
would certainly hope we show a healthy respect for the validity of their
work unless and until we can PROVE that it has flaws severe enough to
warrent such criticism.

Please Mr Koch, document your allegations.

(As far as I am concerned, such allegations have nothing to do with Nazism;
whether someone has such sentiments is a grave matter, but one which can be
to some great extent disconnected from the issue of the reliability of his
or her philology!)

Jonathan SILK at

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