Showing posts with label language and translation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label language and translation. Show all posts

Apr 28, 2011

Kicking off my Book Tour in National Library Week

notre dame hesburgh library christian philosophy debates 1930s blondel gilson maritain religion faith reason
Nearly a week and a half of busily packed days have passed since I officially started the tour for my book Reason Fulfilled by Revelation: The 1930s Christian Philosophy Debates in France  at our own Charles Chesnutt Library at Fayetteville State University.  I didn't realize until I started putting my presentation together precisely how appropriate an occasion and location that was.  The story that I'm going to tell, reflect upon, draw some implications from, and conclude with an argument about resources and policies - - the story of my research and the book that eventually emerged from is also the story of a library, the University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Library, a library of a certain type that unfortunately seems to be at risk for gradually dwindling away, faced with the twin pressures of a digital age and the costs of maintaining library stacks.

I'm not going to talk much about my book in this entry, other than to say that I'll be adding a video (to My New Book) discussing how it is intended to make contributions to scholarship in several respects somewhat different than and complementary the volumes of secondary literature -- or even original groundbreaking work in Philosophy, Religion, History, Political Theory, or Rhetoric -- the disciplinary circles in which I move and appreciate the works of my peers.  What I will note first about Reason Fulfilled By Revelation is that were it not for the existence nearby of a certain kind of library, a certain form of repository of human knowledge, of intellectual striving and dialogue, the research that I carried out would have been. . . . well, not entirely inconceivable, but practically speaking rendered impossible

Apr 24, 2011

Anselm on the Seven Levels of Humility

Having finished the six-entry series on Anselm's views on anger, I've decided on a new Sunday blogging project for the time being, one which still focuses on the (somewhat inaptly epitheted) Scholastic Doctor, but now on a different aspect of his moral theory:  the virtue of humility, so central to his life, practice, thought, and counsels -- so difficult and trying a virtue to cultivate (I'll admit, in my experience and after very limited success).  Humility, Anselm says, is needed in order to prepare the ground for, and to stabilize the other moral virtues. 

Unlike anger, Anselm did devote some thematic discussion to humility as such, particularly through a metaphor he develops in considerable depth -- that of a mountain with levels.  Each level corresponds to one degree of humility, a new qualitative addition or deepening of that virtue, in practice, in action.  In the weeks to come, I'm going to compare Anselm's treatment, and the successive levels he outlines, with those of other Christian thinkers who also discussed humility, and similarly distinguished successive degrees, steps, or levels, of that virtue.  One of these at least Anselm knew with an intimacy than which a greater can barely be conceived, for St. Benedict, the founder of the very order in which Anselm lived out nearly all of his adult life, distinguishes and briefly discusses twelve steps or levels of humility.

Mar 27, 2011

Metal Music, (Heideggerian) Mood, and Memory

Right now, as I start writing this entry, blogging from my (temporary) iPad, I'm sitting in an Irish pub in the Boston airport waiting on a connecting flight to Chicago O'Hare, where I then grab a rental car and drive down the Dan Ryan through the city, up on the Skyway, and south into Indiana, where I watch my daughter dance her parts in a local ballet production of Sleeping Beauty. After that brief respite, enjoying my girl's deepening initiation into one of the high arts, a discipline inducing and perfecting grace and balance, I retrace my steps almost exactly, driving back to O'Hare to catch a flight to Boston, then another down to Raleigh-Durham, then drive back to Fayetteville, to resume classes again Monday morning and finish out what remains of my last semester at Fayetteville State.

On the first flight, suspended in the sky, relocating constantly over who knows what terrain, as I switched back and forth between rereading Platonic dialogues on an iBook reader and writing notes preparatory to an upcoming presentation in a word processor, listening to metal songs shuffling through the sequence my internal iPod randomly spun out, I found myself washed over by the sorrow of nostalgia, an always unfinished grief for times past, that unpredictably swells up out of imperceptibility, and wells up tears -- a reaction I've experienced enough times to know and be comfortable with as much as one becomes towards eccentricities of long-lived-with companions

You see, once you possess halls of memories stretching out long enough for you to have forgotten great portions of what lies behind, once they have looped over each other, sometimes crisscrossedly repeating, sometimes referring, confabulating -- or to forge another hallmark, when some of your memories are of times and moments where you remembered, you ruminated upon, you brought back to affective vivacity other intervals and events -- then enough of your own life is behind you for the past to assume aspects, dimensions more acute and complex than the young can really imagine (though they can yearn for it when they read of it -- glimpses with the heart's eye are afforded some of them).

Feb 16, 2011

Right Racket After All, Says the Philosopher

Last week, I fortuitously came across another piece in which a reporter tells us how a social scientist has (re)discovered some truths long well-known and taught by philosophers and theologians.  Talk Deeply, Be Happy? discusses psychologist Matthias Mehl's findings which seem to show a correlation between reported levels of happiness and the proportion of "substantive" or "deep" conversations as opposed to "small talk" people routinely engage in with others.

This summary, by Tara Parker-Pope, is fairly careful not to draw conclusions ranging beyond the research -- a frequent problem, as I wrote last week, in some reporting on social scientific (re)discoveries of insights long commonplace in other literature, which miraculously multiply a small amount of  information, loaves and fishes-like, into baskets of grandiose speculations.  (Even after the feasting, though, crumbs enough remains for later, more sober, nourishment of the mind.)

Permitting Mehl to speak in his own words about the construction of his study, his assumptions, his inferences, Talk Deeply, Be Happy? opens intriguing questions, which can be and call to be pushed, explored, examined further -- precisely what I intend to do here.  To someone fortunate enough to be involved -- at least part of the time -- in sounding depths of philosophical (and, sometimes political, social, and theological) questions, texts, viewpoints, for a person experienced in  the joys and frustrations, the requirements and obstacles, the wax and wane of desire germane to such activity -- in short in the genuine intellectal life -- there are a number of long-discovered, systematically articulated and passed down, insights on these matters which it seems almost akin to robbery not to share.

Jan 30, 2011

Anselm on "In What Way an Upright Person. . . "

For today, taking a cue from John Allen, who from time to time supplies translations from Arabic on his blog Thicket and Thorp, instead of continuing the series of recent posts discussing various facets or theories of anger, I've decided to provide translation of chapter of a yet untranslated Latin work, the Dicta Anselmi.  It does have to do with anger, in a somewhat oblique manner, since the passage has to do with the approach one ought to take not only towards good people but also bad people.  Among the possible approaches towards the actions of bad people is to feel and act out emotions of anger (or righteous indignation, or hatred) towards them.

Anselm cautions against following the dictates of our carnal, i.e. fallen and fleshly, appetites, and counsels following the dictates of reason and God's precepts.  The human will is placed between these, and in anselmian moral theory, has the capacity to tilt itself towards following the call of one or the other.

Dec 7, 2010

What's Lost in Translation, and What's Not (part 2)

As if I were addressing a room, rather than casting my bread upon the waters of cyberspace, I'll start with an anecdote, one which I find funny.  Hopefully you will also see the somewhat dark humor in it.

Several years back, Alasdair MacIntyre was on some panel at the Modernity:  Yearing for the Infinite conference at Notre Dame.  I entirely forget what the discussion was about, but remember well a remark he interjected, or at least its essential content.  So, in Thucydidian reformulation (having the characters in one's narrative say not what they really said but what they ought to have said, given their ethos) :
When I was a boy, we were beaten if we did not learn Greek irregular verbs well.  I am not defending beating children.  In fact that is a very bad thing to do, both for the children and for those beating them.  It was painful, and produced anxiety.  But now . . . I can read Sophocles and you can't.
A fellow philosopher Dave O'Hara and I started a conversation on Twitter about languages and translations in philosophy, one which I am certain just as much on his side as on mine, reverberates with countless conversations he carried out with other people down the years. When students in class, other professors, parishioners in study groups, fellow travelers passing the time with talk, and the host of other seemingly chance interlocutors find out that you can read a text in its original language, a language they do not know, there are some standard lines in which the discussion typically develops.  Guiding, understandable, but mistaken assumptions come to light.  Sometimes I point them out.  nowadays, I usually just pass over them and allow the conversation to go as the other person seemingly needs it to proceed.

Dec 2, 2010

What's Lost in Translation, and What's Not (part 1)

A philosophical colleague of mine, Dave O'Hara, who I must admit not to knowing well, has been carrying on an interesting exchange with me about languages, translations, and philosophy.  So far, we've been conversing about it via the bite-size  passages the microblog Twitter permits (though Dave used the "part 1. . .  part 3" multiple post way around the length limit).  I found myself, as I often do with Twitter, somewhat frustrated at having to reduce complex thoughts on tricky matters to easily misinterpreted sound bites (though I must admit, I also do enjoy the challenge), and the issues raised are genuinely deep philosophical ones, so I decided those issues deserved a blog entry.

Here's how the exchange developed:

(Dave O'Hara)
Philo tweeps: how important do you consider learning languages for the study of philosophy? Which languages?
Langs? Absolutely important! For Western: Greek, Latin, French, German. Ex: Aristotle, key concepts across texts lost in translation