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Translation and Philosophy

Series:

Edited By Lisa Foran

To what extent is philosophy reliant on translation and how does this practice impact on philosophy itself? How should philosophical texts be translated? Is translation inherently philosophical? Can philosophy be described as a ‘type of translation’? The essays in this collection seek to respond to these intriguing and provocative questions. Exploring a wide range of issues, from the complexities of translating ambiguous philosophical terms to the role of language in concepts of identity and society, each essay highlights the manner in which the two disciplines rely on (and intersect with) each other. Drawing the collection together is an understanding of both translation and philosophy as practices which seek for meaning in our complex relationship with language and the world.

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David Charlston - Translating Hegel’s Ambiguity: A Culture of Humor and Witz 27

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David Charlston Translating Hegel’s Ambiguity: A Culture of Humor and Witz I Introduction The present paper is situated in the field of Translation and Intercultural Studies. My aim is to compare three translations of the same canonical, philosophical source text to investigate the extent to which the translated texts are embedded in the historical private and public narratives surround- ing the translator. The primary data are the three translations of Hegel’s Phänomenologie des Geistes (first published in 1807) in reverse chronological order by Terry Pinkard (copyright 2008), by Arnold Vincent Miller (1977) and by Sir James Black Baillie (1910 and 1931). To narrow the basis for my comparison, I shall be considering how the three translators deal with the translation of two notoriously ambiguous words Geist [mind/spirit] and aufheben [sublate/abolish/preserve] in context. I begin this paper by outlining important contextual frameworks to the three translations, which suggest a pragmatic role of the translations within the philosophical discourse surrounding their publication. I then turn to the central focus of this paper on ambiguity, which I argue has a positive and to some extent intentional function in Hegel’s philosophy. I support this claim, firstly, with reference to the fascination with ambiguity found in the literary and musical culture of Hegel’s time; secondly, with reference to the historical opposition between the ‘dogmatic’, pre-Kantian philosophers such as Christian Wolf f (1679–1754) and the post-Kantian contemporaries of Hegel, for whom ambiguity provides a fundamental starting point for speculative philosophy; and finally, with reference...

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