Well, for example, the origins of one’s own ideas. Who from your own past inspired you to become who you are today? What books or movies or games or people to you return to for inspiration when you momentarily step “outside of yourself”?
So, once you know some things that have influenced you, you can decide whether to follow their patterns without deviation or create something novel that is inspired by those patterns.
So for example: If you are inspired by Confucius, which Confucius?
Jesuit missionaries saw Confucius as a Renaissance humanist because that’s the tradition they worked from.
Leibniz saw him as a figure equal to any other Enlightenment sage.
As an American, my exposure to Confucius is almost certainly stemming from one or both of those Western European traditional interpretations: humanism or scientific method/rationalism — likely both.
So, an awareness of that gives me the facility to recognize that if I ever were to go to the “original texts”, I would certainly be starting from what was my received tradition about “how to interpret” Confucius.
I cannot extract myself from my own footprint in history.
Also, being aware of that, means I can instead choose a more CREATIVE route, which would be to go to the original texts and work to shred the influence that was my received tradition and attempt to understand Confucius as best I could from a textual perspective.
BUT is that possible? There’s Mengzi vs Xunzi: do you follow one or the other strictly as interpreters or do you create your own?
Do you incorporate the Superhero Confucius mythology? etc.
You don’t have to answer any of these: I am using this as an example. I know if 15 year old me was to do it, I would likely only know my received tradition and only interpret him the light of the tradition I received.