A philosophy of translation

Philosophy is often described as a search for the “essence” and meaning of the world. Thus, the purpose of a philosophy of translation would be to investigate the nature and purpose of “translations” (in its broadest sense, the creation of something new on the basis of an apperceived phenomenon). By “essence”, in this context, we mean the same as what is typically referred to by the “sign” of a form.

In this seminar, we will be investigating philosophers and philosophical theories considered to be of historical importance to see if they can offer ways of improving our current understanding of translation. I will list a few names and schools of thought as examples and as a starting point:

(1) Classical and neoclassical Greeks: Plato, Aristotle, the sceptics (Carneades), Epicure

(2) Medieval thinkers: Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, Ibn Rushd

(3) Renaissance, humanism, empiricism (Hobbes, Hume), rationalism (Descartes, Leibniz)

(4) Modern thinkers: Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Wittgenstein, Rorty, Lévinas, Habermas

In light of this, the foundations on which current translation theories are based should be analysed. For example, a comparison of overviews would be useful, such as:

- Prunč, Erich (2007): Entwicklungslinien der Translationswissenschaft. Von den Asymmetrien der Sprachen zu den Asymmetrien der Macht; Berlin: Frank & Timme (= TransUD. Arbeiten zur Theorie und Praxis des Übersetzens und Dolmetschens 14).

- Robinson, Douglas (19979: Western Translation Theory, from Herodotus to Nietzsche; Manchester: St. Jerome.

- Venuti, Lawrence (ed.) (2000): The Translation Studies Reader; London/New York: Routledge.

- Baker, Mona + Malmkjær, Kirsten (eds.) (1998): Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies; London – New York: Routledge.

- Snell-Hornby, Mary et al (ed.) (1998): Handbuch Translation; Tübingen: Stauffenburg (= Handbücher).

We hope that, by bringing both approaches together, we can arrive at new findings.