Translation & Philosophy|Philosophy & Translation

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
David M. Spitzer, Comparative Literature, Binghamton University (SUNY)



In the Holzwege version of “Der Spruch des Anaximander,” Martin Heidegger advances the need to translate oneself prior to undertaking any translation of early Greek thinking (303). At the level of perception Nietzsche locates foundational moments of translation (Übertragungen) at each stage of the movement from stimulation to concept-formation (Über Wahrheit und Lüge §1: 312-17).

In what ways does translation operate in the very action of philosophy, changing, contra Marx & Engels—or even producing—a world though its conceptualizations? How has translation unfolded as the practice, or as a central, if perhaps unspoken, method for thinking? In broad terms, in what ways has translation permeated what is called philosophy, and what implications or consequences for philosophy might the exposure of this interrelationship engender?

One path for inquiry might begin with the project of Barbara Cassin's Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles and its work, as Emily Apter reflects on it, to expose “a history of mistranslation and misfired speech-acts in the history of philosophical terms” and to destabilize “verbal monoliths and idea myths.” Apter's emphasis on untranslatability and her emplacement of “an active Untranslatable” as “a key concept of monde” in the “[p]hilosophical world-making” across a range of thinkers might also orient papers for this session. Philosopher-specific readings that highlight some important aspect or function of translation are welcome, as well as re-thinkings of the concept of translation across and through periods, schools, thinkers, or epochs. Also are welcome any proposals that problematize or reorient the question of philosophy and translation.

Please submit abstracts using the NeMLA on-line portal, instructions for which can be found at: