File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_2004/foucault.0410, message 17

Subject: Re: micro-translations
Date: Fri, 08 Oct 2004 20:12:52 +1000

I guess what is at stake is whether or not Foucault was using the 
conventional phrase in French to describe the politics of the period: while 
'equilibrium' is one acceptable translation of the French, the normal phrase 
used when discussing the post-Westphalian geopolitical situation is 
'balance', as in the phrase 'balance of power'. 'Equilibrium' sounds like an 
odd word to apply what seems to me to be a generally-accepted, time-honored 
feature of European political history.
Kind of wish I hadn't said anything - I just have a bee in my bonet about 
translators making French thinkers sound esoteric when their French is quite 

>From: "Kevin Turner" <>
>Reply-To: foucault-AT-lists.village.Virginia.EDU
>Subject: Re: micro-translations
>Date: Fri, 08 Oct 2004 10:48:50 +0100
>i am the first to admit that my french is poor to say the least. and
>so  here i merely followed whomever it was who translated the course
>summery  of 'security, territory, population' in "ethics:" 69.
>having said that, i also think that equilibrium and/or stability to
>pretty  much the same job - and as far as i can tell from the
>lecture, foucault  does not use the phrase "balance of power."
>On Fri, 08 Oct 2004 15:29:08 +1000, Mark Kelly
><>  wrote:
>>well then,
>>in l'ordre du discours we have "un positivisme heureux" 
(p.72). As
>>in  German and Greek, the French have one word where we now have
>>two:  'happy' for the affective state and 'lucky' for the relative
>>condition.  Since here Foucault is manifestly talking about
>>"l'humeur généalogique",  'felicitous' is a mistranslation 
- it is
>>a happy positivism.
>>While I'm on the subject, I really hope that this 'European
>>equilibrium'  translation can be nipped in the bud here. The
>>English term is  'balance', 'balance of power'.
>Kevin Turner
>Deptment of Sociology
>County South
>Lancaster University
>LA1 4YD
>(01524) 594508


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