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Parvis Emad & Kenneth Maly: EREIGNIS


sábado 8 de abril de 2017, por Cardoso de Castro

Translator’s Foreword

I. The Group of Words That Gather Around One Single Word

1. Ereignis   and Related Words

We considered the possibility of leaving the word Ereignis   untranslated, since we were aware of Heidegger’s own view, corroborated by our understanding of Contributions, that Ereignis is "as little translatable as the guiding-Greek word logos   and the Chinese Tao . . . and is … a singulare tantum." [1] And yet we opted for translating Ereignis rather than leaving it untranslated, for three reasons: (1) Leaving the word Ereignis untranslated in the text   requires an explanation, which involves an interpretation   of this word, which in turn constitutes translating it. That is, leaving Ereignis "untranslated" is itself a translation. Thus translating this word becomes unavoidable. (2) Leaving the word Ereignis untranslated would make it practically impossible to translate the family of words that are closely related to Ereignis, such as Ereignung, Eignung, Zueignung  , Übereignung, Eigentum, ereignen, zueignen, übereignen, eignen. (3) Actually translating this word does not   resolve the problem of the untranslatability of Ereignis. Thus, what is called for is an English rendition of Ereignis that approximates the richness of the German word without pretending to replace it. (Heidegger shows that such approximation is possible, e.g., with his own rendition of the Greek logos) In the case of Ereignis, feasibility of an approximation is foreshadowed by the way in which the er- in Ereignis has the function of stressing and putting forth the movement of eignen in -eignis.

We found a good approximation to Ereignis in the word enowning. Above all it is the prefix en- in this word that opens the possibility for approximating Ereignis, insofar as this prefix conveys the sense of "enabling," "bringing into condition of," or "welling up of." Thus, in conjunction with owning, this prefix is capable of getting across a sense of an "owning" that is not an "owning of something." We can think this owning as an un-possessive owning, because the prefix en- has this unique capability. In this sense owning does not have an appropriatable content.

We found that none of the existing English translations of Heidegger’s word Ereignis is capable of showing the movement that runs through the en and the own, as enowning. Enowning approximates the movement of er- that runs through eignen and the eignis in Ereignis. Part of this movement is a "going all the way into and through" without possessing. We consider it a significant confirmation of the appropriateness of the word enowning that this word provides a unique possibility for bringing into English what Heidegger does, at important junctures of Contributions, when he hyphenates Ereignis. By sometimes hyphenating this word, he draws special attention to er- as an enabling power and as naming the always ongoing movement "in" and "through" without coming to rest in a "property" or "possession." We found that the en- of "enowning" is capable of doing this.

The existing options in English for translating Ereignis, i.e., "event," "appropriation" (sometimes as "event of appropriation"), and "befitting" are totally mute when it comes to the movement that runs through Ereignis. None begins with the prefix en-, with its specific indication of "enabling" and "thorough moving unto." None approximates the er, eignen, and eignis the way en, own, and owning do. It is also clear that none of these words is capable of showing this movement by way of hyphenation. Let us take a closer look at each option.

The first word, event, does not even remotely approximate Ereignis, because "event" immediately evokes the metaphysical notions of the unprecedented and the precedent that are totally alien to Ereignis. Moreover, as born out by sections 238-242 of the Contributions, "event" cannot live up to the demands put on it by Ereignis because "event" emerges from within "time-space" and as such is itself enowned by Ereignis. This means that "event" must be understood from within Ereignis and cannot function as its approximation.

After carefully examining "appropriation," we came to the conclusion that this word also does not approximate Ereignis, for at least three reasons: First, "appropriation" is more static than the German Ereignis in Heidegger. This English word conveys a sense of stability that is foreign to the vibrancy of Ereignis. Second, and more important, "appropriation" brings to mind the act of seizing something without negotiating, which would misconstrue Ereignis as an active agent, as one highly bent on ruling and dominating. "Appropriation" proved not to be a viable option because it strengthens the misconception of Ereignis as agency of seizing, ruling, and hegemony. Third, "appropriation" lacks a prefix that is necessary in order to reflect the hyphenation of Er-eignis. We found that this prefix puts extra demands upon translation, since at highly crucial junctures of Contributions the German prefix "Er" in Er-eignis — when hyphenated by Heidegger — functions with the autonomy of a full word. To have opted for "appropriation" -disregarding other reservations-would have amounted to depriving the English translation of reflecting what goes on in Contributions with the aid of the prefix "Er."

Finally, we rejected "befitting" as an option because this term runs the risk of misinterpreting Ereignis as something self-subsisting that is destined to fit another self-subsisting thing. In other words, "befitting" would dichotomize Ereignis. Moreover, the prefix "be" in "befitting" conveys the sense of a "completion" rather than an enabling process.

These reservations about "event," "appropriation," and "befitting" were strengthened by the realization that none of these three terms presents translation with the possibility of reflecting the phenomenological kinship — so central to an understanding of the Contributions — that exists on the one hand   between Ereignis and Ereignung, Eignung, Zueignung, Übereignung, and on the other hand between Ereignis and ereignen, eignen, zueignen, and übereignen. We found that this phenomenological kinship must at all costs be reflected in the English translation in order for this translation to belong to the domain of phenomenological thinking. The three terms-event, appropriation, and befitting-have the added disadvantage that none is equipped with a prefix to indicate that, with Ereignis, an enabling power comes to the fore that extends itself into words like Ereignung, Eignung, Zueignung, Übereignung, Eigentum, eignen, ereignen. zueignen, übereignen - all words surrounding Ereignis.

It is this same dynamic at work in Ereignis that guides our translation of vom as "from": from Enowning. Rather than merely referring to enowning as a topic ("on" or "of" enowning), the vom here is to be understood as indicative of a thinking that is enowned by being, being as enowning. Thus: from Enowning.

Having decided for enowning as the translation of Ereignis, we found that the way was opened for translating Ereignung with enownment, Eig-nung with owning, Eigentum with ownhood, Zueignung with owning-to, and Übereignung with owning-over-to.


[1Martin Heidegger, Identität und Differenz (Pfullingen: Neske, 1957), p. 25; English translation, Identity and Difference, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), p. 36.