Steiner – The Hermeneutic Motion

Fourfold Hermeneutics


  • We trust the text that there is meaning to be transferred
  • Operative convention: The “phenomenological” assumptions about the coherence in the worlds – different semantic systems.
  • Seeing the world as symbolic is the only way we can get meanings and structures. (using experiences)
  • “there is nothing there” – untranslatable : lexically non-communicative or “deliberately insignificant” 
  • Trust – signifies a belief in the existence of translatability, proof that there is something that exists. (Benjamin: “translated only ‘after us'”)
  • “gamble on the coherence, on the symbolic plenitude of the world” – The translator needs to find something from, maybe, nothing.


  • Heidegger: focusing understanding as an act
  • “the thing that is because it is there”, : authentic being after comprehension (So we need to understand the symbology first, we need to TRUST)
  • Comprehension – not only with your mind or cognitively, but by “encirclement and ingestion” (Comprehension of the body)
  • To despoil is an act of false translation (too aggressive)


  • “import, of meaning and form, the embodiment, is not made in or into a vacuum.”
  • semantic field -> complete domestication
  • importation can dislocate or relocate the whole ST
    • It would be a mimicry of the text
  • Dialectic of embodiment: individual sensibility, alternative sources of feeling
    • (Translating into another language gives rise to new words, and potentially new emotions? – Is that possible?)


  • Too much trust makes us willing to bend towards the TT, taking away from the ST 
  • leaves a “dialectically enigmatic residue”
  • The process of translation, as methodical, penetrative, analytic, enumerative, will focus understanding on the text and render the object to the reader.
  • ST worth translating: to dignify and “to involve it in a dynamic of magnification”
  • transfer and paraphrase “enlarge” the ST
  • Where the translation lacks fidelity to the original, the “authentic translation makes the autonomous virtues of the original more precisely visible”
    • the translation will uphold its meaning to the ST


  • “not literalism, or any technical device for rendering the “spirit”.
  • reader is faithful, so the translator needs to have a “responsible response”
  • Fidelity is ethical and economic
    • it stays true to the ST without omitting any important details
  • a significant exchange

“A translation is, more than figuratively, an act of double entry; both formally and morally the books must balance.”


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About Tyler Candelora

Tyler Candelora is a first-year student at Bucknell University. He is from Coal Township, PA. He speaks English but is currently learning Spanish, French, and Arabic. Tyler is a comparative humanities and language major.

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