Translation and philososophy

full name / name of organization: 
Claire Wrobel / Bentham Centre (Sciences Po Law School) and University Paris II

Call for papers for the one-day conference
organized by the Bentham Centre (Sciences Po Law School, EA 4461) in Paris, France, on April 15th, 2016

The purpose of this one-day conference is to examine the status of translation in the circulation and interpretation of philosophical texts. Translation is often regarded as a self-effacing act whose success depends on it becoming invisible, giving readers immediate access to the thought developed in the source-text. However translation choices determine how texts are read and contribute to the development of exegetic traditions. Indeed how could the act of translating be dissociated from conceptual analysis?
Translators are faced with a double difficulty. First of all – and oddly enough – when commentators deal with an author writing in their language, they have less leeway to interpret the text than translators who can bend the text in all sorts of ways, for the sake of getting closer to the initial meaning the translated author intended to convey in his/her own language. Secondly, the mutual scepticism between language specialists (who claim they have a greater mastery of language than philosophers) and philosophers (who believe they are in a better position, when they translate philosophers, to grasp the concepts and notions at stake in the text) should be examined. Is this conflict justified and how could it be ended?
We invite papers which address the questions in the following (non-exhaustive) list:
- Translation and exegetic traditions: How are philosophers recreated in other languages? How do translations contribute to the development of exegetic traditions?
- Specificity of this type of translation: What distinguishes translating philosophical texts from other types of translation?
- Status of translators: Who is best qualified to translate philosophical texts - philosophers, language specialists, professional translators?
- Practical experience: submissions from professional or academic translators giving accounts of their experience (textual specificities, difficulties encountered and solutions found) are welcome.

Papers and discussions will be in French and English but submissions may focus on texts written in, and translated into, other languages.

300-word proposals for 25 minute-papers should be sent to Jean-Pierre Cléro ( and Claire Wrobel ( by the 15th of Feburary 2016. Acceptance or rejection will be signified by the 1st of March 2016.
The conference will take place at the "salle des actes" of Paris II University (12 place du Panthéon, staircase J, third floor, Paris 5th district).