Letter to the Committee of the Library of Classics of Philosophy written 03.03.1954
Prof. Roman Ingarden c c c Kraków, 3/3/1954
department of German philosophy
c The Editorial Committee of the Library of the Classics of Philosophy
c c WARSAW, Krakowskie Przedmieście St. 79.
c I am sending you the first 18 galley proofs of the revised “Ethics” of Spinoza supplemented with my corrections. I am glad that the translator has accepted a significant number of my previously proposed corrections to his text. Nevertheless, in my opinion, if some of my suggestions rejected by the translator were not to be introduced, it would lead to a form of the translated text I cannot stand for. Therefore, I stand by the opinion that it is necessary to make further changes to the text of the translation in places marked by me in proofreading.
c These include
I. cases where the current wording introduces ambiguity absent in the original.
c a / Such is the case with, for example, the translation of the phrase “et per se concipitur” / in III Def./ as “and is understood by itself”, which can mean either that the subject of understanding of the substance is substance, or that substance can be understood / or recognized / “through / understanding / of itself”, or “through itself”. Continuation of def. III. indicates that it is only refers to the latter understanding, not the former, however the first part of the definition is ambiguous in Polish, and it is not in Latin.
c b / “quatenus” in Latin is not ambiguous. On the other hand, the Polish “as long as” means – and primarily – “if [and] provided that”, as much as the German” falls “, and only then as much as “to the extent in which “. Quatenus only means the latter. Etc.
II. cases where the translation is a clear and unnecessary deviation from the original text. E.g.
c a / “cognitio” should not be translated by “acquaintance”. “Acquaintance ” would be the Latin “notitia.” I specifically consulted with philologists, I was told that “cognitio” is nomen actionis and does not mean a result derived from an act, such as “acquaintance “. Nobody translates it into German as “Bekanntheit” or “Bekanntschaft”, but only through “Erkenntnis”. You could also check the French translation, which the Committee brought in on my proposal. Cognitio in Polish can only be “cognition” or “knowledge”.
c b / “jointly” means the same in Polish as ” together”/ something someone has /. This certainly does not correspond to the Latin “inter se” that appears in the original.
c c / “de substantia” does not mean “in a substance”, and providing the Latin expression only reveals the incorrectness of this translation. Et cui bono?
c d / “saltem” does not mean “while” but “at least”.
c e / “definitio trianguli nihil aliud exprimit, quam simplicem naturam trianguli” cannot be translated as “the definition of a triangle does not express anything but simply the nature of a triangle.” This sentence means only: “… but the simple nature of the triangle.” The Latin text does not raise any doubts as to what it refers to, and it is quite clear that only the translation I have provided corresponds to the actual state of affairs, correctly expressed by Spinoza / the point is that “triangularity” is a simple moment, it creates a simple form, thanks to which something is a “triangle”/.
c f / “certus” does not mean “specified”, but only “strictly designated”, “accurately marked”.
c g / “necessario” does not mean “inevitably” but “with necessity”. The word “inevitably” has more of a “literary” use, while “necessario” is a technical logical term.
c h / “Sub aliquo attributo” cannot be translated by “from the point of view of some attribute”, because it sounds as if the attribute is the subject of cognition and at the same time assumes some proper “point of view”. Can be translated as “through the attribute” “by means of the attribute”, “in view of” etc.
c i / Modus realis of the conditional in the original is at certain points replaced in the translation by modus irrealis / “if it were so … / It is incorrect, even if Polish might call for such use.
c j / / Note to XI / Not: “the existence of God a posteriori “, because neither this “existence” nor “God” are “a posteriori”, but instead ” show a posteriori the existence of God “.
c k / “fluant” does not mean “arises” but “flows from”, which is quite good enough in Polish.
c l / “unicus” does not mean “one” but “the only one” or the more commonly used in Polish “the one and only”.
c ł / “fingunt” does not mean the same as “to make up” in Polish, as in Polish it means the same as “to lie”. Etc.
c III. If in the translator’s opinion certain Latin words / e.g. “dari”, “esse” / are not rendered in their literal dictionary meaning and therefore the original wording is provided in brackets, my opinion is that it is enough to do it once and supply it with an appropriate footnote, instead of repeating it each time it appears.
c IV. In my opinion, the translation should be supplied with a number of notes from the translator below the text, e.g. regarding the meaning of “sequitur” in Spinoza’s writings, etc.
c So much for my justification for the revisions. It is very important to me that my comments are taken into account by the translator.
c As a result of the presented state of affairs, I have to constantly compare the revised version I received with the Latin text and with my old suggestions for the translation. As a result, work progresses slowly, but haste makes waste, and the matters I raise are too important to wave them aside. I will send my suggestions for the further parts soon.
c On this opportunity, I would like to ask the Editorial Committee to issue a certificate stating that I work for the Committee and that I need paper for research purposes as well as copy paper. My stock has already run out and I have to rewrite Kant’s “Critique.”