John Wrae Stanley
Translational Hermeneutics and Inverted Worlds: Some Reflections on Paradigms
Translational Hermeneutics – a discipline aspiring to approach human communication from a hermeneutical vantage point – is in its infancy. The presentations delivered at the first Hermeneutics and Translation Studies Symposium – most of which shared an interest in merging hermeneutics with
translation studies – were marked by a strong diversity. The widely differing perspectives and approaches embodied by the presentations make it difficult to delineate what Translational Hermeneutics actually is. The purpose of this essay is to prod
and stimulate the debate. The essay begins with an analysis of the Kadean perspective on translation studies, for it offers a sharp contrast to any hermeneutical approach. Then the essay proposes a hermeneutical lineage, one emphasizing the phenomenological roots of the tradition running from Husserl, through Heidegger and up to Gadamer. The purpose of the historical overview is to define some aspects of the hermeneutical
tradition that Translational Hermeneutics rests upon. In so doing, some essential cornerstones will be laid for Translational Hermeneutics. In particular, the link to Husserl’s phenomenology not only sets high standards regarding scientific rigor, it also distances the Translational Hermeneutics from the approach taken in the natural sciences. The link to phenomenology requires that we not only re-examine the notion of objectivity but also enrich and develop the concept of “subjectivity.” The interdependence between the “subject” and “object” in experience robs the objects of their predominant role as a source for truth claims and stability in communication. The loss of this foundation for research and stability in communication leaves a vacuum that has to be filled within the paradigm of Translational Hermeneutics.