The problem of translation and the E. Betti’s hermeneutic canon

Keywords: translation, hermeneutics, interpretation, deconstruction, hermeneutic canon, Emilio Betti


The analytical work carried out in the article clarifies the relationship between various philosophical approaches to the problem of interpretation. Such analytical work is necessary to assess the degree of applicability of the principles of modern philosophical hermeneutics to the general methodology of translation. The characteristic features of the modern «posthermeneutic» set of ideas are: approval of the merger of historical horizons, upholding the indivisibility of the past and present, approval of rootedness of interpretive practices in prejudices, shift in the accent in the «author – reader» pair in favor of the reader’s figure, rejection of the author’s monopoly on the meaning of the text, evaluation of the significance of the work in terms of the number of its interpretations, etc. However, if we need an adequate «articulation» of the original meaning, which requires any qualitative translation, the substitution of the arbitrary semantic duplicates instead of author’s basis of the text is absolutely unacceptable. Consequently, a return to classical hermeneutics is still necessary. As an example of such a methodological return to the past, the «hermeneutic canon» by Emilio Betti is considered. According to Betti, the characteristic features of Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics mean the actual rejection of claims to any «scientific character of hermeneutics» as such. In its turn, Betti’s hermeneutic canon includes four principles. The first of these postulates the initial autonomy of the interpretation object. This principle is supplemented by the «canon of semantic coherence» or «integrity» of the interpretation object. This principle emphasizes the importance of an expanded understanding of hermeneutic connectivity. This means that for the interpreter it is necessary to understand the different levels of structural integrity. This may be the correlation between the individual parts inside the single piece, and the «integrity» of a different kind, such as biographical, historical, cultural integrity, etc. The third Betti’s canon is called the «canon of relevance of understanding». It means that the interpreter must try to «reverse-translate» the thought that is embodied in the work. This can be done by «re-designing» the author’s creative path and by the actualizing his creative impulse. The fourth principle is called by Italian thinker as «canon of semantic adequacy» or «canon of hermeneutic semantic conformity», which actually means well-known «principle of congeniality» of interpreter and author. The unity of these four principles returns hermeneutics to scientific objectivity and directs any hermeneutic practice to an adequate representation of the original author’s meaning in the interpretation.


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How to Cite
Bevz, N. V. (2017). The problem of translation and the E. Betti’s hermeneutic canon. Grani, 20(8), 23-30.