Written By: Trevor Kelly
In last Monday’s meeting, the club looked at chapter 38 before turning to chapter 1 in order get a feel for this “Tao.” One difficulty we found, immediately, was that any attempt to translate “Tao” will necessarily distance us from it.
Translation is nothing to laugh at, especially with regards to such a complicated text. Seated at the table, the club members had a number of different translations of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, making any discussion of the text a challenge.
Ellen Chen’s translation and commentary, available on Amazon.com, offers parallel and often conflicting translations. This proved, time and time again, to be of great help in bridging the gaps between different translations.
In reflecting, now, on the importance of language, I am struck by how much this text may well elude us, as I constantly found myself tripping over not only English language but English understanding. It seems that my ease or ability to understand is Western, when the text at hand is anything but.
How do you think language affects thought? Sound off in the comments below!
Trevor Kelly is a senior at Sacred Heart University, studying Religious Studies and Philosophy with a focus in Catholic thought and choral music. He co-founded and currently serves as the President of the Sacred Heart University social activism club, Peace by Justice. He also as the Vice President of the Sacred Heart University Philosophy and Religious Studies club, of which he is also a founding member. He reads Plato on the beach, and swears he is the coolest person you will ever meet who reads comic books. He is probably wrong.