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Translation and Philosophy


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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Andrew Whitehead - Moonless Moons and a Pretty Girl: Translating Ikkyū Sōjun 53


Andrew Whitehead Moonless Moons and a Pretty Girl: Translating Ikkyū Sōjun I Introduction The term ‘translation’, ironically enough, is a mistranslation. James Heisig notes that ‘Leonardi Bruni (1369–1444) misread a line in the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius where traducere meant “introduce, lead into” as “carry- ing over” and hence “translating”. The etymological mistake carried over to French and Italian in the fifteenth century and was simply repeated in English’ (Heisig 2003: 49). Our contemporary understanding of transla- tion is therefore one of ‘carrying over’. In this paper, I will address the dif ficulties encountered when doing a philosophical translation, both in the sense of translating what might be understood as philosophical works, and in the sense of philosophically engaging a text in a foreign language and ‘carrying’ it ‘over’ to one’s native tongue. In the context of some issues that arise from my current research, I will borrow some ideas from the work of James Heisig, which I will then apply to the task of translating a poem by the Zen thinker Ikkyū Sōjun, com- paring my translation to those already published by other translators. While a number of translations of Ikkyū’s work exist, none of these adequately capture the philosophical undercurrents that run throughout his poetry and prose. Without these, translations are unable to ‘carry over’ what the original text aims to convey. Because of this, I believe that Ikkyū’s ideas are, at present, unavailable in English. 54 Andrew Whitehead Ikkyū’s poems...

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