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Translation and Philosophy

Series:

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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Alena Dvorakova - Pleasure in Translation: Translating Mill’s ‘Utilitarianism’ from English into Czech 107

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Alena Dvorakova Pleasure in Translation: Translating Mill’s ‘Utilitarianism’ from English into Czech I Introduction This essay is an attempt to come to terms with a particular experience of translating philosophy and thereby finding oneself, as a translator, to be doing philosophy by way of translation – or, perhaps more accurately, of having philosophy done to oneself in translation. Specifically, the aim of this work is to describe a dif ficulty with translating the key term pleasure in John Stuart Mill’s classical treatise on utilitarianism.1 The body of this essay consists of three sections: the first section con- siders the project of translating Mill’s ‘Utilitarianism’ from English into Czech; in the second section, the problem with pleasure is presented from a philosophical perspective; and, third, the dif ficulty of conceptualizing pleasure is reconsidered as a problem of translation. II Translating Mill’s ‘Utilitarianism’: The Project and its Implications ‘Utilitarianism’ was originally published in 1861 in Fraser’s Magazine. The short treatise (or a long essay) was aimed at a lay readership and intended 1 All references will be to the 1863 version of the treatise used in John Stuart Mill, ‘Utilitarianism’, in Mary Warnock, ed., Utilitarianism (London: FontanaPress, 1962), 251–321. 108 Alena Dvorakova as a commonsensical presentation and a defence of utilitarianism: an act of rehabilitation especially against accusations that it represented, as Mill himself puts it in the second chapter, ‘a doctrine worthy only of swine’ (1962: 258). Since then, the essay has come to be recognized as one of the classical...

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