How important is translation in the study of philosophy? It seems like, in certain areas of philosophy, precise definitions and subtle nuance can have significant impact in outcomes. I was curious how a difference in translation might affect it. One example: I have three different translations of the <I>Tao te Ching</I>, and for some of them, the same original comes out so differently one wonders what each translator thought they were reading at the outset! Another example: when I first read <I>Das Kapital</I> (in English), I was initially confused by the recurring term "means of production." Finally, it dawned on me, that term meant "technology" and serendipity! it all clicked. thank you for your consideration.

Translation is enormously important in philosophy. It is a philosophical topic of interest in its own right. There are issues that arise in connection with the thesis of the indeterminacy of translation and "radical translation", from scratch, associated with Quine, that call for an account of what translation actually is. Should language preserve poetry, or is it true that poetry is what is lost in translation? Is it acceptable to turn a Hebrew original into perfect English iambic pentameter, for example, as the King James Bible did, 'She gave / him of / the fruit / and he / did eat'? Or is the importation of a majestically inevitable and continuing process into the language itself a specious artifact? There is also the question whether translation into an ideal language is translation at all, or whether it is a funny kind of reconstruction. Besides all this, we have the question whether, since French and German, for example, lack an equivalent word for the English "mind", English sentences using "mind" really can be translated into these languages. Does it work to say that the mind-body problem in German is "das Seele-Körper Problem", or that to say in French, 'My mind is made up' means 'Jai décidé'? And if it doesn't work, is the translation defective? Or is all that translation of such sentences can achieve a rough-and-ready match? It is true that for many Germans "Seele" (soul) has no religious connotation, but for some it does. Besides, if it has no such connotation, is it right to translate it into English as "soul", which certainly does have the connotation? These are important questions. And when it comes to larger but perhaps nonsensical questions such as whether "mathematics is a language", the difficulties are only magnified. After all, the word for "language", in English, is descended from "lingua", which means "tongue".

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