Comment penser le monde si on ne sait pas le rêver?

Fleur de Lune

Member
French
Hello! :)

I am having trouble trying to translate the following sentence from French into English

Comment penser le monde si on ne sait pas le rêver?
How to think the world if one doesn’t know how to dream it?

Thanks for your help!
 
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  • Marcus Agrippa

    Senior Member
    Français (Québec)
    Hello! :)

    I am having troubles trying to translate the following sentence from French into English

    Comment penser le monde si on ne sait pas le rêver?
    How to think the world if one doesn’t know how to dream it?

    Thanks for your help!
    How about this : How can one think the world if one cannot dream it?
     

    PaulTR

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    "Penser le monde" clearly is *not* translated by "to think the world." (Which is not English, except in the idiomatic "to think the world OF," a completely different thing.)

    In fact I'd be much obliged for any good suggestions on how to translate this typically academic/literary construction of "penser" with a direct object...
     

    Maîtreaupôle

    Senior Member
    anglais "Canada"
    Bonjour PaulTR et Fleur de Lune,

    Comme un diplômé en philosophie, je peux vous dire que ce sens académique/litéraire de "penser le monde" se dit en anglais aussi, et il veut dire exactement la même chose, à savoir "conceptualizer" ou "s'imaginer".
     

    PaulTR

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    With all due respect, and taking into account that my experience with "Continental" philosophy is fairly limited (and mostly in French rather than English), I'm not convinced that's true. Can you show us some examples?

    Update: I take that back. It was much easier to find examples using a search for "thinking the world" than for "think the world." ("Thinking the body" is even better for turning up examples of this kind of language.) Thanks and apologies.
     
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    PaulTR

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I've come across another example of this expression, this time from the social sciences, and I'm having a hard time convincing myself that the response given here works. The relevant phrase is "penser l’autorité de l’expertise du GIEC et celle du processus de gouvernance politique."

    The responses here suggest that "thinking the authority of IPCC expertise" etc. would work as a translation for this. But I think it just creates a garden-path effect ('"thinking the authority of IPCC expertise" does what?') and reads as an actual mistake. Other suggestions or further convincing evidence in a relevantly similar context (i.e. social sciences) would be much appreciated.

    EDIT: The post by Chris' Spokesperson above was a reference to an Oxford University Press book that used this kind of construction in its title. Besides being an authoritative academic publisher, OUP is actually a department of Oxford University, and as such its site is arguably not "commercial." I won't publish the link but you can easily track this information down via a search engine.
     
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    Maîtreaupôle

    Senior Member
    anglais "Canada"
    Just for clarification: do you mean by "...the response given here..." your response; that is, your translation of the French sentence fragment you quote? Further, are you questioning whether your English version works while assuming that the original French does? I ask because I don't believe either the French or the English works. It's bad both!

    "To think the world, the body, etc..." is a philosophic flight of language attempting to capture concepts at a highly general level of concept formation.This kind of invention is common to many schools of philosophy and other disciplines, too. There have been endless arguments regarding its justifiability. In the end, in certain domains of intellectual thought, it has established itself - perhaps something like over and against plain speech. I leave it to others to decide whether for better or worse.


    However, where I definitely think it is for worse is with respect to thinking about (presumably) much more specific concepts like "l'autorité de l'expertise du GIEC...etc....". How about some plain speaking here as opposed to pretentious gobbledegook?
     

    PaulTR

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I meant that the responses above would suggest I could translate "penser le" in this sense with "thinking the." I then suggested that I didn't think that was right.

    As a translator it's not my job to worry about how pretentious the authors or their constructions might be, it's just to produce the most appropriate translation for the context. To be fair, I think the meaning of the original is not that far off from "to think about" or "think through." In fact I think I'll go with the former. Thanks for your thoughts.
     

    Maîtreaupôle

    Senior Member
    anglais "Canada"
    I believe a translator has the freedom or wiggle room to translate something intelligibly even where what is to be translated has, perhaps, been put in an unnecessarily convoluted or difficult way. That said, I should not have used the word "pretentious". You were right to object.

    By the way, I don't believe any professional philosophers who use expressions like "to think the world" or "to think the body" would agree with you that these expressions are pretty much equivalent to "to think about..." etc.
     

    PaulTR

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Re: your last point--they might well not! Although I would be surprised if I were to discover that at the end of however many words (presumably quite a few) they'd really made a case (that was convincing to me) to the effect that the distinction corresponds to some clear distinction in thought. In this case I'm dealing with social scientists, in particular people working within science and technology studies, which does have contact with philosophy but also with sociology and anthropology in a less philosophical/"theory"-type vein.
     

    hmea

    New Member
    English - England
    Would 'how can one visualize the world without dreaming about it' work as a translation?
    Coming in late on this but I'm having similar problems with a phrase from an essay on Franciscan poverty: 'comment penser la richesses si on doit pouvoir en user sans la posseder?'
    My first attempt is: 'what attitude should be taken to wealth if it is to be used without being owned?'
    Suggestions welcome.
    many thanks.
     

    admetus

    Senior Member
    Hello,
    Would 'how can one visualize the world without dreaming about it' work as a translation?
    "Visualize" works for me. I found the ending weaker than the original though: it isn't just not-dreaming about it; it is not-dreaming about it because one doesn't know how to.
    For your sentence (typo on "richesse"?), maybe something like:

    how to... think of / make sense of / understand / construct a coherent and structurally sound mental model of
    (OK, maybe not that last one)... wealth if it can be used/wielded/expended without being owned/possessed?

    Thanks.
     
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