Essay on Interpreting The Analects of Confuscius

Essay on Interpreting The Analects of Confuscius

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The Roger T. Ames and Henry Rosemont, Jr. translation of “The Analects of Confucius,” is a philosophical interpretation of the text, meaning it utilizes metaphysical and moral principles, based on collective impressions of Western culture rather than individualist interpretations. The traditional text, left un-translated, would be difficult for the Western reader to interpret or understand. When translating a text, the translators have to consider the difficulty of changing one language into another while also considering the general knowledge of their readers and the customs and cultures surrounding the text that likely are lost in translation. Ames and Rosemont admit the difficulty of translating a text such as this due to these complex reasons. Yet by analyzing specific chapters in the text and utilizing the translators’ introduction, lexicon, and footnotes, the reader is then able to understand the translators’ process for interpreting the text and thus has a greater understanding for one’s own comprehension. However, despite Ames and Rosemont’s ability to make the text accessible, they impose specific interpretations onto the text through their translation, which obscures its original intentions, making it more difficult for the reader to understand the text’s deeper contextual purpose and meaning.
The Ames and Rosemont translation of chapter 7.28 states: “The Master said, “There are probably those who can initiate new paths while still not understanding them, but I am not one of them. I learn much, select out of it what works well, and then follow it. I observe much, and remember it. This is a lower level of wisdom” (Analects, 7.28). From a literal translation, the reader can conclude that this chapter is about both the app...

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...e dreamed of in your philosophy,” he may well have said, “There are more ways of experiencing the heavens and the earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy (Ames and Rosemont 65).
Translations are a series of choices as expressed above. While I do not think the initial compilers of Confucius’ text would equate him with Hamlet or reference Kierkegaard like the translators do, I think it is an accurate comparison for the western reader. However, by making these comparisons I think the translators are detracting from the intended purpose of the text, which is to allow the individual the ability to interpret the meaning for him or herself, which by utilizing a translation jeopardizes that vision.

Works Cited
Confucius. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. Trans. Roger T.
Ames and Henry Rosemont, Jr. New York: Ballantine, 1999. Print.

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