Paul Ricoeur in his essay The Paradigm of Translation, presents an understanding of translation that is found between two positions that are irreconcilable. These two positions represent on the one hand, the difference that exists between languages and on the other hand, the common ground that languages must have for them to be translatable into one another. Following Ricoeur’s paradigm, the thesis will aim to unpack an understanding of translation as a tension that occurs between its theoretical impossibility and the reality of its everyday practice. The theoretical impossibility of translation lies in the fact that for one language to be translatable into another, there needs to be an a priori common ground, which cannot be clearly established. The everyday practice of it, on the other hand, suggests that translations are made all the time without the need for a theoretical framework. I will begin by establishing what is meant by translation by drawing on Walter Benjamin’s description of translation as a life form and as a work of art. I will then draw on Jacques Derrida’s quasi-concept of difference at the origin to explain translation in theory.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Philosophy Department

Degree Name

MA in Philosophy

Graduation Date

Spring 5-31-2021

Submission Date


First Advisor

Steffen Stelzer

Committee Member 1

Richard Fincham

Committee Member 2

Alessandro Topa


41 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item