The translation of philosophical texts

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Abstract

This chapter traces a history of key translations since antiquity which have changed the course of the development of philosophy, both within the west and between western philosophy and Chinese and Indian thought. It has been widely recognised that philosophical texts pose a particular challenge to the translator, comparable to translating scripture or poetry, and philosophy’s conceptual language has regularly been considered ‘untranslatable’, but equally regularly philosophical texts have been translated (and retranslated). Five different purposes for philosophy translation are set out: cultural exchange, textual interpretation, linguistic enrichment, founding or furthering an indigenous philosophical tradition, and the philosophical development of the individual translator. Although many of the most significant philosophy translations in history have been carried out by gifted amateurs, nowadays the task is increasingly falling to professional academic philosophers, of whom a steadily increasing number are women. The difficulties posed for the translator by conceptual and figurative language are considered, and the relative creativity of some of the responses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Translation and Philosophy
EditorsJ Piers Rawling, Philip Wilson
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter19
Pages307-323
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781138933552
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Handbooks
PublisherRoutledge

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