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Reading Patočka, in search for a philosophy of translation

Domenico Jervolino

pp. 121-133

Language is the reciprocal disclosure of man and world. But language does not exist outside a plurality of historical languages. In this hiatus between the unity of language and the plurality of languages, translation becomes a philosophical question. My hypothesis is that reflecting on translation, with Ricœur and Patočka, is fertile for a deeper understanding of the meaning of phenomenology. I consider the following three fundamental theses: (1) Meaning is the most comprehensive category of phenomenological description; (2) the subject is the bearer of meaning; (3) reduction is the philosophical act that permits the birth of a being for meaning. All three of these theses can be clarified by testing against the diversity of languages and against translation, in such a way as to come, perhaps, to a better understanding of the meaning of asubjective phenomenology. If every language is like a world, then to reduce or stand apart from a language, methodologically neutralizing it, is exactly what happens when we have to do with a foreign language, and with any language expression which we consider as a language of otherness. Viewed in this way, reduction no longer appears as a fantastic and impossible operation of exiting the world. On the contrary, it becomes possible and necessary in order to reach the level of transcendental humanity, endowing us with the faculty of understanding and being understood thanks to the mother tongue which opens us to the world, but also in the reciprocity that translation establishes between those who speak different tongues. This approach has a clear influence on the conception of the subject (always embodied in the world through the mediation of language), and on the conception of meaning as the space opened by translation in order to compare and let our perspectives on the world be communicated.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-9124-6_10

Full citation:

(2011)., Reading Patočka, in search for a philosophy of translation, in E. Abrams & I. Chvatík (eds.), Jan Patočka and the heritage of phenomenology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 121-133.

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