The Morality of Translating

2015-7-2 Translate img01Translations of great works are commonplace. We can go the bookstore and pick up a translation of anything, from Plato’s Republic to The Brothers Karamazov, but we rarely think about the moral and practical difficulties of translation.

We generally purchase translations because we cannot read the work in the original language. We therefore put our faith in the translator, trusting that they know both the original and translation language well enough to communicate accurately the meaning of the original text.

We are implicitly trusting in both a translator’s skill and sense of moral obligation or reverence towards a text.

This had never occurred to me until one of my Latin professors brought it up. Continue reading

Contra Cartesiana: An Original Translation of Some Scholastic Criticisms of René Descartes, c. 1643

2015-4-23 Translation img02The world remembers René Descartes for his two major seminal philosophical works, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, published in 1637 and 1641, respectively. In addition to this, he accomplished the world-changing marriage of algebra and geometry with his Cartesian coordinate system, allowing any function or equation to be expressed in terms of lines and curves twining around his x and y axes.

Descartes’ philosophy, born in the midst of the bloody Thirty Years’ War – the heart-breaking religious wars (1618-1648) between Catholics and Protestants – sought to establish absolute certainty. Continue reading