Philosophy of Translation. Filosofia della traduzione PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 22 December 2020 09:34
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Una rCover-Teoria-2020-2iflessione critica sull’attualità della traduzione e delle sue molteplici declinazioni appare un tema di primo piano nell’ambito della ricerca filosofica contemporanea. Questo fascicolo di «Teoria» pubblica gli interventi tenuti al convegno Homo translator. Traditions in translation, organizzato presso la Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan, e alcuni saggi selezionati, che estendono la prospettiva dell’indagine agli ambiti della letteratura, delle tecnologie, della psicanalisi, della politica.

In questo fascicolo sono pubblicati anche i saggi vincitori del Premio di Studio «Vittorio Sainati» 2019-2020 e scritti da Giulia Battistoni, Guglielmo Califano, Filippo Nobili.

A critical reflection about the relevance of translation and its many variations seems to be a priority in contemporary philosophic research. This issue of «Teoria» features the talks held at Homo translator. Traditions in translation, a meeting organised at the Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan, and other selected papers, which broaden the horizon of the survey to the spheres of literature, technology, psychoanalysis and politics.

We also publish the essays that won the prize “Premio di Studio «Vittorio Sainati» 2019-2020”, written by: Giulia Battistoni, Guglielmo Califano, Filippo Nobili.

Premise / Premessa, Adriano Fabris, Seung Chul Kim, p. 5

A critical reflection about the relevance of translation and its many variations seems to be a priority in contemporary philosophic research. In addition, the development of thought has always gone hand in hand with a reflection on the possibility of translating it: into different languages, into different forms of expression, into different cultural forms. However, nowadays no philosophical reflection can do without an interdisciplinary approach and deal, first and foremost, with the consequences of globalisation and the spread of new technology. This instalment of «Teoria» features the talks held at Homo translator. Traditions in translation, a meeting organised by Seung Chul Kim as part of the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture which he is the director of (Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan, 4-5 July 2019) and which is mainly focussed on the problematic East-West relations. This instalment is completed by a few papers, selected through an international call for papers, which broaden the horizon of the survey to the spheres of literature, technology, psychoanalysis and politics. Finally, the essays by the three young winners of the award named after the late Vittorio Sainati, professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Pisa and founder of «Teoria», have been included as well.


Seung Chul Kim, Homo Translator: Traditions in translation
PDF (English) p. 7-11

The act of understanding, as Martin Heidegger’s notion of the “existential” tries to show, belongs to the fundamental structure of human being-in-the-world. In this sense, the study of how we understand and what it means to understand requires collaboration among anthropological, philosophical, and hermeneutical approaches to the essence of the human. The paper will introduce the topic and the issue of “Teoria” devoted to it.


Zbigniew Wesołowski, Hermeneutics of Understanding the Confucian Idea of Truth: Junzi 君子 as a Truth-bearer in the Lunyu 論語
PDF (English) p. 13-34

In order to work out the hermeneutic and methodological horizon to look at the idea of truth in classical China (i.e., before the influence of Buddhism there), the first part of the present contribution contains hermeneutic and methodological problems, such as the historicity of understanding as the first hermeneutic rule, authentic existence as a “shared meaning” in quest for existential truth within a spiritual tradition etc. In the second part, on the basis of the Lunyu, the author explores the Confucian idea of junzi 君子 (the noble people) as the Dao-truth bearers. What we deal here with is first of all the correspondence theory of individual and moral truth, i.e., a junzi as being in a compliance with ren 仁-humanity (human nature) and li 禮-ritual (the appropriate expression of ren-humanity and other moral attitudes in a society) as well as with the correspondence theory of social and political truth, i.e., as being in compliance with Tiandao 天道 – the Heavenly order.


Jorge Martínez, What do we translate when we translate?
PDF (English) p. 35-47

This paper deals with the problem of translation from various perspectives. The first of them refers to a possible theological origin of the need for translation. Translation became necessary because languages were confused by the gods, according to a tradition older than the Biblical account. Behind the religious accounts there are also ethical problems related to coexistence between men. A second perspective relates to the art of translation itself. Some representative theories are examined in this regard, from St. Jeremy to Luther. Finally I try to answer the question “what do we translate when we translate”? For that, my main reference is the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset. Is it true that translation is ultimately impossible, strictly speaking? I end with a nuanced response to Ortega’s challenge.


Paul L. Swanson, Context, Logosyllabary, and Multiple Choices. Reflections on 30+ Years of Translating Chinese Buddhist Texts
PDF (English) p. 49-62

This essay presents some ruminations on the challenge of translating Chinese Buddhist texts, based on more than thirty years of working on such a task, and looking forward to developments for future translations. First I will recall some personal guidelines for translation (especially the importance of context). Second, I will then reflect on a few passages and arguments from three books I have read recently on translation and language (in particular the characteristics of the Chinese language) and what it means to “read” Chinese. Third and finally, I will examine a few terse phrases from the Chinese text (the Mohezhiguan) I published recently in a heavily annotated translation to illustrate how a translation proceeds, and to show that more than one correct translation is possible, depending on the annotation (or lack thereof) and the intended audience.


Alicia M. de Mingo Rodríguez, Desafío de confianza y traducibilidad crítica. Notas para una ética de la traducción
PDF (Español) p. 63-81

English title: Trust Challenge and Critical Translatability. Notes for an Ethics of Translation.

The trust placed in translation, which is fundamental to its effectiveness, and which must deny, but at the same time it can justify the famous expression “Traduttore, traditore”, that trust finds decisive support in the ethics of the “obedient” translator, that plays “second fiddle” (to the author), and in the requirement of transparency and fluency in translation; all this often contributes to the invisibility of the translator and of the inner process of translation’s truth. Demand for efficiency causes the challenge of interlingual and intercultural mediation effort of translation to be trivialized, challenge in which respect for the Other and his alterity is decisive. In this way, translation offers a suitable model for thinking about a cross-disciplinary and active universality in the horizon of possibilities of a critical translatability.


Carlo Chiurco, Mediare l’incommensurabile. Note sul rapporto tra filosofia e traduzione
PDF (Italian) p. 83-99

English title: Mediating the Immeasurable. Remarks on the relation between philosophy and translation.

Both post-structuralist and hermeneutical thinking have recognized translation as the very essence of philosophy. However, they also reached the conclusion that translation – i.e., the λόγος as it was shaped during centuries of philosophical tradition – is untenable. In their view, philosophy held possible to establish an equivalence between different meanings (an equivalence which translation necessarily implies) either without taking properly into account the problematic existence of the incommensurable, or deliberately avoiding it. Another objection has it that the λόγος never fully detached itself from the prephilosophical world of myth. The essay will show that it is sacrifice, and not the λόγος, that presupposes the equivalence between meanings without problematizing the incommensurable. Moreover, λόγος is actually opposed to myth in its unrepentant denunciation of the innocence of all sacrificial victims.


Elinor Hållén, Making the Unconscious Conscious: A Reflection on the Concept Translation in Freud
PDF (English) p. 101-119

In The Unconscious Freud uses the concept translation alongside transformation and replacement to describe the process in which dynamically unconscious mental content takes conscious form. This paper inquires into how translation should be understood in the psychoanalytic context and if translation can capture conscious-making. Intuitively there seems to be a problem: translation is typically used for translations from a language with an articulative structure to another while it is distinctive of the repressed unconscious that it is lacking in conceptual and logical structure. Can translation account both for the meaning that is there and what is lacking? In dialogue with contemporary psychoanalytic writers, philosophers in the Wittgensteinian tradition and Benjamin’s The task of the translator the author presents a reading in which translation as used to describe the therapeutic work of making the unconscious conscious is understood not as as mediating meaning but as creation and development.


Elena Nardelli, Se il filosofo si fa traduttore. Note a partire da Martin Heidegger
PDF (Italian) p. 121-139

English title: If the philosopher becomes a translator. Note starting with Martin Heidegger.

This paper aims to investigate the role translation plays in the specific philosophical experience and praxis of Martin Heidegger. I will develop my argument combining two axes: a.) the axis of the explicit remarks on translation Heidegger scattered in marginal regions of his thought, and b.) the axis of Heidegger’s own translation praxis where translation appears as a constitutive and decisive discourse operation. This second axis does not contrast with what Heidegger expresses in the first, but it is useful for its in-depth analysis and for the comprehension of its worth. I will show that translation is a good indicator for understanding Heidegger’s philosophical gestures during the nineteen-twenties. The analyses will be limited to his discussion of Aristotle and his translations of the Nicomachean Ethics, especially with respect to a few excerpts from Book VI concerning dianoetic virtues.


Alberto Martinengo, Ermeneutica filosofica e filosofia politica. Il paradigma della traduzione in Paul Ricoeur
PDF (Italian), p. 141-162

English title: Philosophical Hermeneutics and Political Philosophy. The Paradigm of translation in Paul Ricoeur.

The relationship between philosophical hermeneutics and political reflections cannot be reduced to a unique model. Differences are relevant among its main authors: from Heidegger’s analysis of polis as a site where ontological difference appears, to Gadamer’s practical turn, and Ricoeur’s political background of his hermeneutics of the conflict. The present paper argues that – despite appearances – the political issue is a general presupposition of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics from the late 1950’s onwards: in his philosophy of symbolism, metaphor, and narrative, it acts as a metaphorical reservoir giving rise to thought. After the ethical turn of the 1990’s, the political matters come to the fore in the form of a theory of translation, which is the very heart of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics.


Sašha Hrnjez, Traduzione, negazione, riflessione: sulla natura negativo-contraddittoria della traduzione
PDF (Italian), p. 163-185

English title: Translation, Negation, Reflection: on the Negative-Contradictory Nature of Translation.

The article aims to examine the relationship between translation, negation, and reflection. Starting with some Saussure’s claims and Paolo Virno’s An Essay on Negation, the article shall bring to light how the negative-differential nature of language manifests itself in the relationship between different languages, i.e. in a translational relationship. By using the categories from Walter Benjamin’s The Task of the Translator, such as ‘the intended’ and ‘the mode of intention’, we will try to argue the main thesis: the negativity that manifests itself in the translation process has a reflexive, self-referential and transformative character. In the next step, we will analyze the dynamics of the negation of negation in translation as the relationship of identity and difference, which is actually structured as contradiction. In conclusion, it will be claimed that translation, far from being a secondary communicative phenomenon, constitutes rather, due to its negative and reflexive nature, the historical life of languages.


Maria Benedetta Saponaro, La traduzione algoritmica del pensiero relazionale
PDF (Italian) , p. 187-205

English title: The algorithmic translation of relational thinking.

Although Turing’s Question – Can Machines Think? – has not yet found an answer, it can be considered outdated. It is not important to determine if you think, it is more important than the brain electronic behave like a human brain. In the same way it is not important that you feel emotions, it is important that you act like a human who experiences emotions. The development of the studies on artificial neural networks, in particular in the field of deep learning has significantly expanded the scenario of human replication. We are in the field of “Affective Computing”, a branch of human-computer interaction, which deals with creating “Affective machines” able to interact with the user, taking into account his emotional reactions. The properly philosophical question we ask ourselves is “why should we build machines that replicate human interaction and thinking in a relational sense?”, without neglecting to examine the conditions of possibility of an ethics of the machines.


Premio di Studio «Vittorio Sainati» 2019-2020

Giulia Battistoni, La polivocità di Schuld nella Moralità hegeliana: un contributo agli studi sulla traduzione di un concetto portante della filosofia hegeliana dell’azione
PDF (Italian), p. 209-220

English title: The Polyvalency of Schuld in Hegel’s Morality: A Contribution to Translation Studies about a Fundamental Concept of Hegel’s Philosophy of Action.

The essay focuses on the different meanings and translations of a fundamental concept of Hegel’s action theory, i.e. Schuld, as it is discussed in the Morality Chapter of his Philosophy of Right. Firstly, I will introduce the main meanings of the concept in the 19th century in Germany in order to clarify the historical grounds of its ambiguity (1); secondly, I will discuss the meanings of Schuld as it is understood by Hegel in his action theory. Given point 1, I will refer i.a. to its meaning of culpa, bringing light to passages of Hegel’s text that have never been clarified by research up to now; I will distinguish this meaning from that of moral responsibility (2). This will lead, lastly, to a metareflection – intrinsic to philosophical praxis – on translation of philosophical concepts: the role of translators as mediators between two cultures proves to be essential, giving the reader the opportunity to understand the terminological richness of a concept, like that of Schuld (3).


Guglielmo Califano, Scientia intuitiva? Intuizione, idea ed empiria nella scienza di Goethe
PDF (Italian), p. 221-232

English title: Scientia intuitiva? Intuition, Idea, and Empiricism in Goethe’s Science.

In recent years, numerous studies have been highlighting the importance of Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants for classical German philosophy. According to these studies, Goethe’s theory of intuition not only overcomes the boundaries of Kantian philosophy, but also has a crucial bearing on Hegel. In my paper, I set out to contest the widely accepted thesis asserting a direct reference of Goethe’s account of intuition to Kant’s Critique of Judgement and to the problem of a relationship between intuitive and discursive thinking as it emerges in that framework. In fact, by bringing Goethe’s text back to its own botanical context, it becomes clear that an original notion of idea underlies Goethe’s theory of intuition. Contrary to the Kantian idea, Goethe’s form is deeply rooted in an empirical context and is properly grasped only by the combined activity of observation, imagination and intuition. This is not meant to deny the speculative value of the Metamorphosis: I take Goethe’s Scientia intuitiva to be the ability of understanding the world of phenomena as rational though multifaceted and unpredictable.


Filippo Nobili, Husserl e il punto di vista dell’Allsubjektivität
PDF (Italian), p. 233-243

English title: Husserl and the Allsubjektivität’s point of view.

To appreciate the significance of phenomenological idealism as traditionally unprecedented, I shall provide a clarification of the too often overlooked notion of Allsubjektivität. Husserl’s effort to resolve classical philosophical oppositions – such as those between naive objectivism and psychological subjectivism, theory and practice, etc. – results in the idea of transcendental (all) subjectivity’s self-explication (Selbstauslegung). I will argue that, on closer inspection, Husserl’s idealism does not consist in a metaphysical worldview but, rather, it coincides with the accomplishment of a concrete task, according to which true being emerges as a practical idea of cooperative determination. Indeed, the procedure of Auslegung reveals how the tension among the world, the I and the others coalesces and how a higher degree of self-awareness (Selbstbesinnung) amounts to a correlative boost in human self-responsibility (Selbstverantwortung) for reason’s achievements.