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Bedeutungswandel der Zivilgesellschaft oder das Elend der Ideengeschichte: Eine kommentierte Übersetzung von Hirata Kiyoakis Aufsatz zum Begriff shimin shakai bei Antonio Gramsci (Teil 1)


Kremers, Daniel; Izuta, Shunsuke (2017). Bedeutungswandel der Zivilgesellschaft oder das Elend der Ideengeschichte: Eine kommentierte Übersetzung von Hirata Kiyoakis Aufsatz zum Begriff shimin shakai bei Antonio Gramsci (Teil 1). Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 71(2):713-739.

Abstract

The history of ideas is a history of translations and interpretations, of finding new words for old phenomena and attributing new phenomena to old
words. In this commented translation from a Japanese source text, this historical process is demonstrated for the term civil society and the languages German, French, Italian and Japanese. In his 1989 article “On Gramsci’s notion of civil society”, Japanese Marxist Kiyoaki Hirata compared the use of the term by Georg W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci, while translating it to Japanese as shimin shakai 市民社会, today a highly popular term in Japan. We have translated the first part of Hirata’s article, in which he endeavors on the connections and differences between Hegel and Marx. His major finding is that Karl Marx in Misère de la philosophie (1847) has taken Hegel’s concept of civil society or civic community (bürgerliche Gesellschaft), splitting it in two and so differentiating between civil society (société civile) and bourgeois society (société bourgeoise). However, as Hirata noticed, when Misère de la philosophie was translated to German as Das Elend der Philosophie in 1888 this differentiation was lost. The German version, just like Hegel’s Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts only spoke of bürgerliche Gesellschaft. When Hirata translated the text to Japanese, however, he opted for using the French original as source text, thus distinguishing between shimin shakai and burujoa shakai. What Hirata does not mention though, is that by translating the French société bourgeoise to German as bürgerliche Gesellschaft, Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky and Friedrich Engels have cut off the German discussion on bürgerliche Gesellschaft from the global discussion of civil society for more than a century. Only in the late 1980s, German speaking Marxist intellectuals engaging with the works of Antonio Gramsci began to realize that there is more to bürgerliche Gesellschaft than being a translation for société bourgeoise. This inspired them even to invent the new word Zivilgesellschaft as a translation for the Gramscian società civile – a linguistic trick that is peculiar to the German language, and became necessary because the German language had lacked a marker for the difference between bourgeois and citoyen. In the following years however, Zivilgesellschaft became such a popular term that has by now replaced Hegel’s bürgerliche Gesellschaft as a translation for civil society in many contexts and has been attributed many contested meanings – way beyond the realm of Marxist theory. These processes
of translations and transformation are usually invisible in our daily use of language, and become only apparent when we actively compare and interpret
sources from different epochs and languages.

Abstract

The history of ideas is a history of translations and interpretations, of finding new words for old phenomena and attributing new phenomena to old
words. In this commented translation from a Japanese source text, this historical process is demonstrated for the term civil society and the languages German, French, Italian and Japanese. In his 1989 article “On Gramsci’s notion of civil society”, Japanese Marxist Kiyoaki Hirata compared the use of the term by Georg W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci, while translating it to Japanese as shimin shakai 市民社会, today a highly popular term in Japan. We have translated the first part of Hirata’s article, in which he endeavors on the connections and differences between Hegel and Marx. His major finding is that Karl Marx in Misère de la philosophie (1847) has taken Hegel’s concept of civil society or civic community (bürgerliche Gesellschaft), splitting it in two and so differentiating between civil society (société civile) and bourgeois society (société bourgeoise). However, as Hirata noticed, when Misère de la philosophie was translated to German as Das Elend der Philosophie in 1888 this differentiation was lost. The German version, just like Hegel’s Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts only spoke of bürgerliche Gesellschaft. When Hirata translated the text to Japanese, however, he opted for using the French original as source text, thus distinguishing between shimin shakai and burujoa shakai. What Hirata does not mention though, is that by translating the French société bourgeoise to German as bürgerliche Gesellschaft, Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky and Friedrich Engels have cut off the German discussion on bürgerliche Gesellschaft from the global discussion of civil society for more than a century. Only in the late 1980s, German speaking Marxist intellectuals engaging with the works of Antonio Gramsci began to realize that there is more to bürgerliche Gesellschaft than being a translation for société bourgeoise. This inspired them even to invent the new word Zivilgesellschaft as a translation for the Gramscian società civile – a linguistic trick that is peculiar to the German language, and became necessary because the German language had lacked a marker for the difference between bourgeois and citoyen. In the following years however, Zivilgesellschaft became such a popular term that has by now replaced Hegel’s bürgerliche Gesellschaft as a translation for civil society in many contexts and has been attributed many contested meanings – way beyond the realm of Marxist theory. These processes
of translations and transformation are usually invisible in our daily use of language, and become only apparent when we actively compare and interpret
sources from different epochs and languages.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 71 (2017) > 2
Dewey Decimal Classification:Unspecified
Language:German
Date:27 January 2017
Deposited On:13 Jan 2020 11:15
Last Modified:28 Jul 2020 14:15
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0004-4717
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2017-0044

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