Human Rights in China-Linguistics & Philosophy

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the most translated document in the world. It requires a gargantuan leap of faith, and a good dose of ingenuity, to assume that all those translations say precisely the same thing.”
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“The linguistic, ultimately conceptual, asymmetry between English and Chinese regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights urges us to be more cautious in dealing with universal values.”

 

“For just one example, a subtle difference between the official English and Chinese versions of the Universal Declaration reveals a much greater schism. The majority of the thirty articles in the English version of the Declaration refer to ‘everyone’ and ‘no one’, while the Chinese translation conveys all such expressions with the phrase ‘ren-ren’, ‘人人’ – literally, ‘man and man’. This linguistic nuance is significant, since it means that the two languages convey the meaning of ‘universality’ in metaphysically distinct ways.”

SOURCE: Bufacchi, Virrorio, and Vir Xiao Ouyang. “Hens, Ducks, & Human Rights in China.” Philosophy Now.

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Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths

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“Some Western philosophers and theologians find it difficult to accept Buddha’s refusal to present a theology or system of metaphysics. But Buddha’s goal was existential and pragmatic.”

 

 

SOURCE: Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom. Thompson Wadsworth, 2007.

Video: BBCRadio

Is the Many Worlds Hypothesis Just a Phantasy?

fullsizerender“The Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) has a striking parallel in analytic philosophy that goes by the name of modal realism. Ever since Gottfried Leibniz argued that the problem of good and evil can be resolved by postulating that ours is the best of all possible worlds, the notion of ‘possible worlds’ has supplied philosophers with a scheme for debating the issue of the necessity or contingency of truths.”

SOURCE: Ball, Phillip. “Too Many Worlds.” Aeon.

Saving an Endangered Language

fullsizerender“The Tlingit people of the Pacific Northwest have a rich and complex culture, much of which has been preserved orally. Generations of oppression and marginalization have taken a heavy toll and the Tlingit language could have vanished completely.”

“Beginning in the 1980s, decades of work have gone into mapping the Tlingit language and preserving its vast oral literature, with $480,000 in grants from NEH. The program has achieved much: Tlingit is now incorporated into every level of education in Southeast Alaska, where Tlingit words and place names are now reentering the mainstream. In 2009, linguists completed a Tlingit dictionary, which is now available online. For Keri Eggleston, a linguist on the project, ‘it’s really inspiring to see kids introduce themselves in the language, and find meaning in life through studying the language.’”

SOURCE: “Saving an Endangered Language.” National Endowment for the Humanities.

What Totalitarianism Looks Like

“Totalitarianism is an arrangement of state power in which the ruling elite control the conditions of political and social existence while subverting the authority of individuals citizens.”

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“In a totalitarian state, the will of rulers is effectively superior and morally preferable to the sense and sensibility of citizens, and all state instruments are mobilized to secure this claimed superiority. Under these conditions, the people become an agglomeration, a political organism, sustaining a regime that does not perceive any obligation to reciprocate. Indeed, such regimes insist that the duty of citizens is simply to obey, while the duty of rulers is to express their power.”

SOURCE: Lebron, Christopher. “What Totalitarianism Looks Like.” Boston Review.

The Becoming-Literature of the World: Pheng Cheah’s Case for World Literature

“What Is a World?, by contrast, aims to identify the ‘ethicopolitical horizon [that literature] opens up for the existing world’: literature’s normative, rather than merely 25778724reflective, capacity — in other words, its ability to shape a world rather than simply being its product.”

“To that end, Cheah mobilizes a series of terms that seem to have long gone out of fashion, beaten out of use by historicist deconstruction: world spirit, universality, teleology, and authenticity. What Is a World? argues that novels that merit the name world literature ‘remake the world against capitalist globalization’ by pointing, through their narrative contingencies, at the openness of ontological structures.”

 

 

SOURCE: Alon, Shir. “The Becoming-Literature of the World: Pheng Cheah’s Case for World Literature.” Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB). 

Translation – and Migration – Is the Lifeblood of Culture

4320Culture is not a purely national business. I work as a poet and translator and would find it inconceivable to read Chaucer without being aware of the figures of Dante and Boccaccio in the background, or Shakespeare without Plutarch. Or indeed TS Eliot (himself an immigrant to the UK) without referring to 100 texts from other states in other languages. This form of internationalism is the lifeblood of art. It is rootless, it is cosmopolitan, and it is free thinking.”

SOURCE: Szirtes, George. “Translation – and Migration – Is the Lifeblood of Culture.” The Guardian.