The Untranslatable in Philosophy

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Abstract

This chapter begins by contrasting the top-down problematisations of translatability by translation theorists with the bottom-up solutions to translation problems offered by practising translators. The more upbeat views of Antoine Berman and Roman Jakobson on ultimate translatability are contrasted with the more hard-line theorisations of untranslatability among the German Romantics Schleiermacher, Humboldt and Schopenhauer who, it is argued, are haunted by the prospect of there being some kind of ideal of “translation proper” which any kind of real-world translation falls short of living up to. The second half of the chapter turns to the question of whether philosophy itself is specifically resistant to translation, and gives some examples of translation difficulty from a multi-volume translation project (Nietzsche in English). The chapter concludes, by way of Barbara Cassin, that untranslatability acts as a kind of Kantian regulative idea spurring on practical translation attempts to approach it asymptotically “from below.”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUntranslatability
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Perspectives
EditorsDuncan Large, Motoko Akashi, Wanda Józwikowska, Emily Rose
Place of PublicationNew York and London
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter5
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-08257-1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Translation and Interpreting Studies
PublisherRoutledge

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