Experts Talk about the Translation Movement of Philosophy
Azarang: The advent of revolution led our translational movement towards philosophy
15 Mar 2012 - 12:13
Abdul Hussein Azarang said: If you look on the issue from the outside, you will notice the inception of translation movement in the country, especially in the last three decades. The advent of Islamic Revolution is one of the most important reasons why our society tends towards translating philosophical works. Undoubtedly, if there were not revolution and its consequences, our translational movement would not incline towards philosophy and intellectual foundations.
IBNA: Abdul Hussein Azarang, the author, translator and editor in the field of Social Thought, in a talk with Iran Book News Agency (IBNA) confirmed the inception of translation wave of philosophical works in Iran and said: If you look from the outside on the cultural conditions of Iranian, you will notice the inception of translation movement in our country, especially during the last three decades. Any comment on the exact status of this movement requires making a qualitative and statistical comparison between the books and articles translated in Iran; and those worked in the similar countries such as Egypt and Turkey. These three significant Islamic Nations enjoy similar population and cultural conditions as well.
I have already compared these three countries based on some elements which are of' course not related to the field of philosophy. To reach a clear result about the philosophical works' translating condition in Iran, the statistical data of these three countries must be extracted and counted at least within the last three decades, and then a comparative analysis will be possible.
The translator of the book "Philosophy and Social Hope," continued: the Translational Movement we are talking about is by no means merely specified to philosophy; rather translations have been initiated in many areas, among them philosophy is one of the most prominent ones.
He considered the advent of Islamic Revolution of Iran as one of the most important reasons why Iranian community tends towards philosophy and said: Islamic Revolution was a significant political and social incident that one of its consequences is that some people moved towards philosophy and philosophical roots of the revolution. Undoubtedly, if there were not revolution and its consequences, our translational movement would not be drawn towards philosophy and intellectual foundations. No doubt, Iran itself stands intellectually far ahead of the same countries in this regard.
Azarang explained: When the Revolution happened, I had just started my activities as a researcher and I was then able to look on the phenomenon analytically. This revolution was the greatest incident of my life and of my generation, because we hadn't seen the World War II. After the Revolution, a great deal of books was published about the theories of Revolution.
After a while and when the society had shed the political ardors, normal in the initial years, attentions had been paid to the roots of revolutions and to find answers to these questions: Why a revolution happens? Is it necessary? And what is the role of reformation? But, answering to these questions requires returning to the roots and reading philosophies. That is why, day after day, and by the passage of time from the revolution; Iranian society also became more interested in reading Greek philosophy.
The translator of "History of The West Philosophy" continued: if you juxtapose the philosophical translations published after the revolution, you will notice a kind of historical trend linking these works. After sixties, the society paid more attention in the origins and fundamental ideas of philosophy.
In response to the question asking: "what can justify the so-called wave of pre-revolution philosophical translations begun after the book «History of The West Philosophy»?" he said: Perhaps, the entrance of modernity in Iran has apparently been a good reason for Iranian to welcome translation of philosophical texts. Iranian's familiarity with modernity began from Qajar period, and many books were translated into Persian in this period. A number of articles have also been written about the books translated in Persian during the Qajar period.
About the impact of the book " The Trend of Wisdom in Europe" written by Forughi it must be stated that its importance as well as its appropriate language is not doubtful, but we should not imagine that the publication of this book caused a revolution in the translations of philosophical works. Because until several years after the publication of this book, we did not observe translating and publishing of philosophical books as it is the case now. Thus, it cannot be said that the publication of "The Trend of Wisdom in Europe," is indeed the inception of translation of philosophical texts in Iran.
The author of "My Masters and Non- Maters" noted: The point at which the translation movement of philosophical texts started in Iran should be coincident with the translations done by Najaf Darya Bandari, Hamid Enayat, Manouchehr Bozorgmehr and Ezatollah fouladvand during thirty and forty decades. They paid special attentions to the book "The Trend of Wisdom in Europe ", because they needed the language and expression applied in it.
Considering the translation trend of philosophical works as "Self-Erected", he knew the trend a suitable topic for social studies and said: the number of translated books published in the field of philosophy, their titles as well as their thematic emphases all can be analyzed within a social study framework.
Through this study it can be realized that the philosophy inclination in Iran has pointed towards which of the following thinking areas in the last three decades: epistemology, ontology, or the addend philosophies.
In this way it will be clear that which topics are more selected by translators. This study can be done with respect to the publishers as well. For example how many of the philosophical works' publishers are governmental and how many of them are belonged to the private sector. In addition to be sociological this study requires ,in deed, bibliometrics and bibliography as well.
About his personal realization from the approach of philosophical works' translation, during the past decades he said: commenting on this issue requires methodological and scrutinizing studies, but it can be said in general that the philosophy of religion and ethic is amongst the most interested areas, therefore to Iranians, religious ideas and its relationships with innovations associated with modernity were of significant importance. Numerous works have been published on Islamic theology as well.
To describe the quality of philosophical translations in the country he said: let me give an example to explain it. If I study 100 philosophical books, I will be able to understand only 20 of them, because the other 80 ones are obscurant, while philosophy is my favorite research areas. One of the Iranian prominent philosophy professors who is fluent in French and is able to read the philosophical books in French said that he cannot understand most of French contemporary philosophical books, while he reads them in French i.e. in their original language.
New West philosophies are so complex that this philosophy professor who is fluent in French faces problem in understanding them. Obviously, after undergoing translation, these books will find a worse situation. Translation of such works, require a serious proficiency in source and target languages as well as the subject matter of the book, something rarely found among our translators.
Azarang added: another problem of philosophical translation is that we have translated The West philosophical texts separately. For example, we did not translate the whole ideas of a given philosopher; rather we have selected only some parts according to our needs and just translated them in to Persian language. If we juxtapose the philosophical translations published during the past thirty years, lots of gaps will be realized, because there are still a great deal of important works belonged to the West great Philosophers which are waiting to be translated in Persian.
In response to the question: "Some individuals expect the government support philosophical translations comprehensively, is it logic or not?" he answered; such expectations are irrational and far from reality due to several reasons. There is only one rational and defensible expectation from the government that is: publication of all the classic and fundamental works of all areas should be supported by the government.
The main sources of all fields should be selected and an accurate translation of them should be presented. And before publication, several experts should compare them with the main text. These works are indeed human heritages and belong to the whole world; therefore they should be published without any personal taste- based modifications.
Finally Azarang expressed his hope to improve the situation of translating philosophical works in our country and said: We survive by hope, Otherwise there was no reason for being alive. While not losing hope for better condition, we must do our best and of course modify some things like educational system, reading systems, standards of book selection and the governmental awards in the book area. We should have skillful translators and editors and also professional publishers who publish the accurate and understandable texts, and last but not least -we ought to train a society who accept understandable books instead reject the obscurant works.