Online ISSN : 2187-5278
Print ISSN : 0387-3161
ISSN-L : 0387-3161
Special Issue: Education and Translation
Philosophy as Translation: Towards Other-Directed International Academic Exchange in Education
Author information

2019 Volume 86 Issue 2 Pages 162-175


 Academic discourse in education is dominated by the idea of mutual understanding and interactive communication in internationalization. In reality, however, various kinds of one-directionality prevent us from being engaged in mutual learning. In response to the need to realize genuinely bidirectional international exchange in education, this paper proposes a turn from one-directional and one-dimensional communication to bidirectional translation. Translation here is not simply an inter-lingual exchange between two different language systems, matching one word to another: rather it more broadly involves human transformation as a quality of human life, in recognition of the nature of human being as linguistic. Through this broader and deeper sense of translation, the paper points to forms of other-directed international academic exchange in education in which we can accept different cultures as other, and through which we can learn from the other.

 First, the problem of monolingualism is illustrated, along with some fallacies that arise in connection with language. A way out of the constraints of monolingual mentalities is sought from the perspective of translation as an alternative way of looking at language.

 Second, from the standpoint of Stanley Cavell's idea of philosophy as translation, the paper explores translation as a metonym for human life. Cavell shows that translation is not simply an interaction between different language systems: rather, as part of language's intrinsic nature, translation permeates our life as a form of human transformation.

 Philosophy as translation highlights the experience of strangeness, the sense of a gap, that is epitomized by our experience of the untranslatable. In encountering the obscure and the ambiguous, we are compelled to make judgments within a position of uncertainty: our ground is destabilized, and we lose ourselves. It is through such experience of self-abrogation that we learn to attend to the other, in a process of self-transcendence.

 Finally, from the perspective of philosophy as translation, the paper offers three proposals for going beyond the monolingualism that permeates international academic exchange in education. The first is to move from communication to translation in international exchange: from the symmetrical discourse of mutual respect and from a presumed commensurability to the acceptance of a relationship of disequilibrium — one that acknowledges an unbridgeable gap. Second, with regard to engagement in cross-cultural communication, philosophy as translation presents a third way beyond ethnocentric consolidation of cultural identities, on the one hand, and beyond borderless cosmopolitanism, on the other. What is at stake here is the exposure of one's own self and culture to the other. Through such self-criticism, we become cosmopolitan. Third, it is proposed that these shifts in our thinking about language, self and culture direct us towards other-directed international exchange Reconstruction of an academic system requires the internal human transformation of each participant and the cultivation of the art of translation. Such other-directed exchange is educational by nature, and it involves educational studies as a mediator between different academic disciplines.

Information related to the author
© 2019 Japanese Educational Research Association
Next article