Existentialist Philosophies: An Introduction

Existentialist Philosophies: An Introduction

Existentialist Philosophies: An Introduction

Existentialist Philosophies: An Introduction

Excerpt

My first difficulty in making this translation has been the age-old one of conveying concepts, and especially abstract concepts, from one language to another. In my case, the difficulty has been increased because many of the Existentialist concepts are, apparently, difficult to express, even in French.

A second difficulty has been style. Most educated Frenchmen automatically write in what might be termed "the classical style" when dealing with "academic" subjects. The equivalent English style has been largely abandoned by present-day British writers on academic subjects, though traces of it persist in, say, leading articles (and sports reports) of The Times, which occasionally have to be re-read here and there before the meaning is clear. Moreover, in his desire to give a complete and unbiased summary of Existentialist philosophies, M. Mounier writes many long and often extremely complex sentences. The French logical mind may be capable of grasping at a glance the complete meaning of such sentences, but modern English composition tries to avoid them. Perhaps my greatest difficulty has been in dealing with the complexity of some of M. Mounier's sentences, and I am aware that some parts of my translation may make difficult reading, even though, as I hope, the meaning is clear. I can only say that it is difficult, without complete recasting, to break down sentences which have only one principal clause, and that complete recasting involves the risk of committing the unpardonable sin of "interfering" with the meaning of the original text.

There is a good deal of technical "jargon" in the Existentialist vocabulary, though its effect on the reader may be less mystifying than might be imagined. I have, after consultation with a Frenchman, translated most of this quite literally though it is possible that my phraseology may occasionally conflict with other English translations dealing with Existentialist philosophies. As far as "standard" technical terms of Philosophy are concerned, there is evidence that sometimes Frenchmen do not, perhaps, mean the same thing as we do by the same term. For instance, I am not at all sure what exactly is meant in this book by terms such as "transcendence" and "psycho-analysis."

There is also the "famous" Existentialist word "angoisse", which I translate as "anguish." I am quite aware, firstly, that angoisse does not mean exactly the same thing as " anguish," and secondly, that angoisse or "anguish" by no means conveys what Existentialists mean when they use the term in their particular technical sense. I also know that some translators have used the word "dread" as a translation of angoisse.

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