By Miles Groth
(Humanity Books, Hardcover, 9781591021001, 314pp.)
Publication Date: April 2003
Categories: History & Surveys - Modern
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Despite the great influence of Martin Heidegger on the development of 20th-century philosophy, a complete understanding of his thought is difficult to achieve if one relies solely on English translations of his works. Since Gilbert Ryle misjudged his work in a 1929 review of Sein und Zeit Heidegger’s philosophy has remained an enigma to many scholars who cannot read the original German texts. Miles Groth addresses this important issue in this illuminating work.
The main cause of misunderstanding Heidegger, says Groth, is that translators have not achieved clarity about such fundamental words as Sein, Seiende, Dasein, and Existenz, an understanding of which is crucial to gaining access to Heidegger’s way of thought. Adding to the complexity of this problem is Heidegger’s own seminal interest in the philosophical implications of translation. A basic theme of his philosophy is that key words from the ancient Greek tradition were mistranslated, first into Latin and then into modern European languages, with the result that the thought of the Pre-Socratics and the classic Greek philosophers has been obscured for two millennia. Heidegger argued that these early mistranslations of fundamental Greek words launched Western philosophy in a direction it need never have taken.
Groth examines both the history of the first English translations of Heidegger’s works and Heidegger’s philosophy of translation, revealing that there is a coherent philosophy of translation in Heidegger’s texts. The book not only articulates the elements of this theory of translation chronologically and thematically, but also shows it at work in Heidegger’s meticulous and radical translation of Parmenides, Fragment VI, in What Is Called Thinking? Translating Heidegger concludes with a complete research bibliography of English translations of Heidegger.
This unique study makes an original contribution to Heidegger scholarship as well as the philosophy of language.
Miles Groth (Staten Island, NY) is chair of the psychology department, associate professor of psychology, and director of the honors program at Wagner College. Dr. Groth is also an existential psychoanalyst and the author of Preparatory Thinking in Heidegger’s Teaching and The Voice That Thinks: Heidegger Studies.