Saturday, May 24, 2008
Appendix 2 of Kenneth Maly's new book is a response to various criticisms of his co-translation of the Beitrage. The translations of some words is discussed in detail, including our favorite.
The Word Ereignis

It should be noted here -- and applied as well to some of the other controversial words-in-translation that I discuss here -- that many scholars and thinkers are generally and genuinely happy with the translation of Ereignis as 'enowning' and can use it in their own work. (For many people our translation of Beiträge provides a solid basis for doing their philosophical work and thinking.) Some readers take the word, translate it, and run with it -- take it over and make it work for them; others avoid any translation of the word like the plague.

It has been suggested that this word Ereignis should remain untranslated -- left in German. I assume that this would apply to all translations into all languages. Thus, for this to happen, would there need to be global agreement?

In a number of places, various texts indicate the impossibility of not translating Ereignis. One is in 'Brief über den Humanismus,' where Heidegger writes that this single thought has not yet been experienced in thinking: das Wesen des Menschen [als] die eigentliche Würde des Menschen. I translate this phrase as follows: 'What is own to humans [as] the ownmost [genuine] dignity of humans.'

What is telling here is Heidegger's marginal note to the word eigentlich, added some years later: Die ihm eigene, d.h., zu-geeignette, er-eignete Würde Eignung und Ereignis. If we leave the word Ereignis in German, untranslated, then what sense can be made of such a sentence? Awkward as it may sound to our unaccustomed ears, the word calls for translation: 'The dignity own to him [human being], i.e., owned-over to him and enowned: owning and enowning.'

Pp. 170-171
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