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