new translations

kichenas at kichenas at
Wed Nov 29 19:22:42 UTC 1995

This is further to B. Kellner's comments. Her final piece of advice
 "do not read anything into the text which is not there" cannot be
stressed too strongly. The following comments wmay be relevant.

(1) I think most of us would agree that there is such a thing as a
`scientific translation.' It is one which aims at conveying the intent of
the author as far as it has been reconstructed, AND NOTHING ELSE. There is
another kind, which aims at expressing the creative reaction of the
translator to the work of another. Several poets have tried their hand at
the latter. They are interesting and informative, as any other literary
production is, for the light they shed on their author and his/her own
context. They may be one of the means for ideas from one culture to be
(deformed and) assimilated into another. As far as Indian Studies are
concerned, it seems that it is desirable first and foremost to try to
understand what the texts mean. 

(2) The problems with `equivalence' were actually well-illustrated in this
forum with the discussions on `soul' and `atheism.'

(3) A brief remark on the `scientific' input to metaphysical problems:
modern research on the physiology of perception shows that we are *very*
far from a complete theory of sensory perception, let alone psychological
phenomena. This is quite obvious in particular when looking at the problem
of computer vision. Also, philosophy in India is supposed to be about the
search for truth, and there is no reason why there should be two standards
for truth: the truths of Indian philosophy must be compatible with what is
inferred from what we admit as pramANas. Indian philosophers used freely
the scientific knowledge of their time in their work, and there is no
reason why we cannot do the same, updating or amending their arguments as
necessary. Of course, it is but too easy to detect scientific errors in 
philosophical and religious texts of all cultures...that does not mean 
that philosophy and religion do not deal with very real problems.

                                Satyanad Kichenassamy
                                School of Mathematics
                                University of Minnesota
                                E-mail: kichenas at


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