From Professor Denham’s and Professor Ewington’s remarks on Thursday’s panel, the overwhelming message that I took away consisted of the idea of translation as “ubiquitous but invisible” and found myself intrigued by the decisions translators make every day, particularly by the idea of the conflict between literal translation and thematic interpretation. Although the translator does not write their own story, different interpretations of the same story can cause vast disparities in meaning. Unless readers partake of multiple translations of the same work, they must take the translators’ decisions and interpretations at face value. As such, the barriers for language represent some lack of accessibility for texts despite the institution of translation, and these language barriers can be symptomatic of barriers in education and status.
My question on translation stems from these contradictions: how does translation simultaneously put forth democratic ideals of equality with its greater access to texts and their ideas and have those that enact it (the translators) possess a power that perpetuates systematic differences in terms of access to knowledge?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines truth as “the body of real things, events, and facts”; nonetheless, determining the identity of such a body poses many challenges. Questions on whether truth exists and, if so, how does one find it, come up naturally in humes discussions and readings in unit two. Scientists have proven certain phenomena as factual, such as that acceleration due to gravity is approximately 9.8 m/s/s and that the Earth is round. These realities have an indisputable accuracy demonstrated by quantitative evidence, and as such they become true. However, the definition and existence of truth still remains in question. For me, truth is this one big umbrella of knowledge, and humans can discover little pieces at a time, albeit never coming to know the full scope.
For Plato, education can lead to truth and he believes that humans unequivocally have an innate, even if sometimes subconscious, desire for the enlightenment to some truth that education can bring. The assertion that, once man leaves the cave to discover what more exists, that same man will not want to return to his primitive state of education and being: “‘wouldn’t he or she prefer to put up with absolutely anything else rather than associate with those opinions that hold in the cave and be that kind of human being?’ … ‘prefer to endure everything rather than be that kind of human being’”. This complex reflects how, when man gains access to more truth, in this case upon understanding how more of the world and its nature function, it spawns an insatiable desire to remain in this state and a rejection of previous ignorances that that man once embodied. The conflict between something of truth, with reliably proven accuracy, and between what is presented as a truth despite either factual inaccuracies or an omission of relevant details (or some other cause), espouses itself here as those in the cave know only the cave, its fire, and the shadows it can see. Nonetheless, the expansion of what can be called a personal truth occurs when someone is pulled up to the sun, and the argument exists that people do not want to lose this new personal truth.
Borges, however, takes a slightly different approach to truth with his hypotheses that humans’ desire for truth often blinds them from clear breaches in accuracy, because people care more about believing in something than about the factual nature of this something. He suggests that the patterns presented, particularly at one point in human history, would cause all to want to believe in Tlon: “why not fall under the spell of Tlon and submit to the minute and vast evidence of an ordered planet?”. This interpretation of belief systems and truth indicates that, while humans slowly discover more and more of what can be considered true, sometimes the desire for wisdom impedes this process with irrelevant and inaccurate details that they choose to accept. Frequently the inability to understand so much of what does occur leads to a decision to understand something else solely for the purpose of understanding something more. This view corroborates that of Plato in that humans naturally want to maximize what they know as true, but it departs in that Plato demonstrates a linear tendency between ignorance, the acquisition of knowledge, and the resulting contentment. Borges argues that the impossible nature of knowing that exists in so many questions of the world denies this pattern of Plato, and instead that the search for truth is tantamount to a prisoner lost at sea, grabbing onto any life raft it sees, unbeknownst to him whether it is the life raft of an ally or an enemy.