THE LIE OF TRANSLATIONQ
THE LIE OF TRANSLATION
Mary Gregor in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals translates Kant’s “in mancher Absicht” as “for many purposes” and then says in a footnote “perhaps ‘in many respects’.” Did Kant mean this or that? Kant meant neither this nor that. He had in his mind a fecund whole, heavy with all the resonances, associations, and ambiguities of the German words, that can never be reproduced exactly in any other language. To remove the ambiguity is to falsify the original, and the poor translator must go through the torment of choosing between this falsification and that.