A spirited defense of a certain empiricism in Translation Studies (and in anything else concerning the study of cultures)
The scientific method known as empiricism has been attacked in two influential books in Translation Studies. Mona Baker’s Translation and Conflict sees all knowledge as being produced through narrative, thereby excluding the processes of repeated testing and dialogue that can be associated with an empirical approach. Further, Baker’s failure to attend to textual linearity, voice, and narrator position lends her project an ideological essentialism that actively shuns such empirical testing. Lawrence Venuti’s Translation Changes Everything, on the other hand, escapes essentialism by insisting on the active interpretation of all data. However, Venuti thereby falsely opposes hermeneutics to empirical method, in a way that willfully ignores the key twentieth-century epistemologies of science. The resulting anti-empiricism leads him to some very questionable psychoanalytical conclusions and an excessive reliance on the authorities of dictionaries and distanced theorists. Neither Baker nor Venuti can say, as must any empiricist, ‘I don’t know.’
Published online: 06 December 2016
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Cited by 5 other publications
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