Barbara Cassin • “Untranslatables as a Method”

Barbara Cassin takes as her point of departure the Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles (Paris: Seuil-Le Robert, 2004). She emphasizes its specifically European — some might say oh-so-French — purposes before discussing the ongoing adventure of its various translations-adaptations-reinventions, among them the Dictionary of Untranslatables (eds. Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra, and Michael Wood, Princeton University Press, 2014). Each of these, in its own language, has unique cultural and political intentions that can be described but also elude the Dictionnaire’s editor. Cassin then considers how the methodological approach of the Dictionnaire has developed and contaminated domains beyond philosophy and comparative literature, including museum and heritage studies, psychoanalysis, and now the study of the “three monotheisms.” What is the difference between this approach and a purely comparative method, if such a thing exists? Could we hope for different results? Which ones and why? A French philologist and philosopher, Barbara Cassin was elected a member of the Académie française in May 2018 and received the CNRS Gold Medal, France’s highest scientific prize, this September. This September, Barbara Cassin received the CNRS Gold Medal, France’s highest scientific prize. Cassin is the second philosopher in the history of the CNRS to win this prestigious award. She was also elected a member of the Académie française this past May. Cassin edited the Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles (Seuil, 2004). She is the author or editor of more than 20 works of philosophy, including Sophistical Practice. Toward a consistent relativism (Fordham University Press, 2014) and two books with Alain Badiou: Il n’y a pas de rapport...