N.2/2020 Filosofia e storia: una relazione ancora possibile?

La tentazione della fedeltà
La traduzione secondo Eco, Ricoeur e Ortega y Gasset

Giordano Ghirelli

(Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele di Milano)

Published in December, 2020

The temptation of faithfulness. The practice of translation according to Eco, Ricoeur, and Ortega y Gasset.



Theoretically translation seems to be impossible. The difference between languages lies in every aspect of them and makes utopian the transfer of the same meaning from one language to another. On the other hand, translation is a matter of fact. Paul Ricoeur’s proposal to solve that contradiction between theory and practice of translation is to substitute the paralyzing alternative “translatable vs untranslatable” for the vital alternative “loyalty vs betrayal”. As Umberto Eco shows, in translation the loyalty to the source text does not exclude target-oriented modifications: on the contrary, it encourages them. That fact brings Ricoeur to retain lingual hospitality as the model of every hospitality, because it teaches us to consider sense not as a fixed entity which must be discovered and brought from one culture to another, but rather as the result of their mutual exchange, the space itself of their encounter: an itinerary to be practised, not a meaning to be idolized. In this direction seems to go Ortega y Gasset too, when says that we need translation to see the ancients not as models, but as “errors”, and to see ourselves as errors through them. A real dialogue can start only when both the speakers renounce to be in possession of the truth after all, as the case of translation clearly shows through the point of view of these thinkers.


Ricoeur, Eco, Ortega y Gasset, translation, sense, loyalty.