Chapter published in:Controversies in the Contemporary World
Edited by Adriano Fabris and Giovanni Scarafile
[Controversies 15] 2019
► pp. 69–84
How should we think about a trans-cultural hermeneutics?
A controversy between Wilhelm von Humboldt and Georg Friedrich Hegel
One of the first modern discussions on untranslatability in philosophy, in particular in relation to Asian philosophy, is the controversy between Georg Wilhelm Hegel and Wilhelm von Humboldt. This controversy began in 1823, with the publication of August Schlegel’s translation from Sanskrit into Latin of the Bhagavad-Gītā, one of the most important poems of Indian culture. This translation generated a strong debate among German intellectuals between 1770 and 1830, not only about the difficulty of philosophical translation, but also about how to develop a trans-cultural hermeneutics. The paper reconstructs the outlines of this debate, by bringing out its inner complexity and showing how many of those problems still remain in the current intercultural debate.
Keywords: G. W. F. Hegel, W. von Humboldt, A. W. von Schlegel, Bhagavad-Gītā , Indian culture, Indology, yoga, untranslatability, translation, trans-cultural Hermeneutics
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