Skip to main content

TOWARD A PHILOSOPHICAL RETHINKING OF TRANSLATION: Effects of Translation in a Contemporary European Space

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TRANSPHILEUR (TOWARD A PHILOSOPHICAL RETHINKING OF TRANSLATION: Effects of Translation in aContemporary European Space)

Reporting period: 2018-08-01 to 2020-07-31

"How to understand translation? What does it mean to say one thing a second time in another language? What can we learn about us by thinking of translation? What are the political and social conditions for translation practice? TRANSPHILEUR project moves from these general questions in order to propose a new approach and rethink translation through the lens of philosophical inquiry. It works in the intersection between different theoretical perspectives broadening the range of the research from philosophy and translation theory to political theory and cultural studies.
The project ""TOWARD A PHILOSOPHICAL RETHINKING OF TRANSLATION: Effects of Translation in a Contemporary European Space"" (TRANSPHILEUR) has set two main objectives: a) to propose and conceptually elaborate translation as a self-reflective transformative practice b) to explore the effectiveness of translation in the context of contemporary European cultural and political space conceived as a “translational” space. The combination of the speculative-philosophical analysis of the translation process (a) with the examination of its political and cultural dimensions in reference to the European context (b) constitutes the framework of the project.

The main achievement of the research consists in using the conceptual structure of Hegel’s dialectical thinking in order to conceive translation as self-reflective transformational practice. The project proposes a pioneering approach in philosophy of translation by examining ideas such as translation as self-differentiation, translation as a reflective practice, translation as the experience of contradiction, or the notion of translational universality. Building upon a dialectical analysis of translation, the research frames also its cultural and political aspects discussing some issues in the contemporary debate on cultural difference and universalism. More concretely: Can a translational approach generate a new framework for political communities as “communities of translation”? Is it possible to conceive Europe as “translational space”? What is the common language of Europe? Can translation help us to construct an alternative model for the common social space?

TRANSPHILEUR was hosted at the Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology (University of Padua), and included a secondment period at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.
The project was carried out according to the training-through-research principles and included scientific publications, presentations at the conferences, organization of events, working exchange with professors, researchers and students, and involvement of different profiles of interdisciplinary scholars."
TRANSPHILEUR communicated its results, in the first line, to the academic community (philosophers, scholars, professor, students, etc). The project pays an attention to the cultural and political issues (e.g. common language of Europe, Europe as translational space) and in this sense it is relevant in promoting European cultural and public space. Potential users of the outputs are, besides philosophers, university scholars and translators, all others interested in relationship between philosophy, translation and political engagement.

Main publications:
S.Hrnjez-Elena Nardelli (eds.), Hegel and/in/on Translation, «Verifiche» (Special Issue), n. 1-2 2020.

S. Hrnjez-Elena Nardelli, “Is It Possible to Speak About a Hegelian Theory of Translation? On Hegels Übersetzungsbegriff and Some Paradigmatic Practices of Translation”, in «Verifiche» (Hegel and/in/on Translation), n. 1-2 2020, pp. V- XXVII.

L. Illetterati-S.Hrnjez “Soggettività e traduzione. Dinamica traduttiva e ontologia del soggetto in Hegel”, in Morale, etica, religione tra filosofia classica tedesca e pensiero contemporaneo, eds. by M. Quante, A. Manchisi et al., Padova University, Press, 2020, pp.

S. Hrnjez, “Traduzione, negazione, riflessione: Sulla natura negativo-contraddittoria della traduzione”, in «Teoria. Rivista di filosofia», 2/2020, pp. 163-185.

S. Hrnjez, “Translational Universality: The Struggle over the Universal”, in «Labyrinth», 2/2019, pp. 118-137.

S. Hrnjez, “ ‘Più che comunicazione’: La traduzione come prassi socio-politica” in «Giornale Critico di Storia delle idee», 2/2020 (to be published in 2021)

All publications are (or will be) provided with open access.
Only in the last decades has the phenomenon of translation acquired its deserved centrality within the field of philosophy together with the establishing of Translation Studies as an academic discipline. The starting point of the project is the fact that philosophical analyses of translation are still unsatisfactorily developed, although the history of theoretical reflections on translation is long. The philosophy of translation can be seen as a field “under construction”. The project therefore investigates the philosophical structure, logic and character of translation and aims to contribute to the affirmation and development of the philosophy of translation as a relevant research discipline.

The main progress beyond the current state-of-the art consists in setting forth the speculative-dialectical approach to translation. This move was achieved by means of an interpretation of Hegel’s dialectic in the light of translation process, and also through an analysis of translation process through the apparatus of Hegel’s logic. In that regard, one of the main questions addressed in the project is the interaction between the concepts of reflection and transformation within Hegelian framework (i.e. understanding of translation as self-reflective transformational practice). Another important contribution of the project is the analysis of the ‘contradictory’ character of translation, i.e. translation not only as the experience of differences (linguistic, textual, cultural and so on) but as a process of contradiction and as a contradictory relationship between identity and difference.
Using these conceptual achievements TRANSPHILEUR implies also the following effects: 1) it contributes to the undermining of the traditional common-sense paradigm of translation as communication of a message or a pre-existing meaning from one language system to another 2) helps understanding of modern heterolingual and polycultural phenomena (e.g. new bilingual/plurilingual communities) 3) affirms translation as the political and social practice of the constitution of communities and common way of living (in this sense, translation becomes a necessary model for understanding European common future)