Hegel's Phenomenology in Translation: A comparative analysis of translatorial hexis

David Graham Charlston

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The thesis adapts Bourdieu’s theory of hexis as a method for approaching the Baillie (Hegel/Baillie, 1910/1931) and Pinkard (Hegel/Pinkard, 2008) translations of Hegel’s Die Phänomenologie des Geistes (Hegel, 1807/1970) as embodiments of a translatorial practice informed by social and philosophical contextual factors. The theoretical concept of a translatorial hexis is analogous to Bourdieu’s habitus but differs in that the translatorial hexis embodies a specifically dominant, honour-seeking stance of the translator with regard to the micro-dynamics of the surrounding sub-fields; the translatorial hexis is also embodied primarily in the detail of the text and in the peritexts to the translations. Chapters 3 and 4, which focus on the Baillie and Pinkard translations, are each divided into three sections: an analysis of the historical background to the translation in terms of interrelated Bourdieusian fields defined by rival positions vying for academic reputation; an analysis of lexical patterning identified in TT corpora with reference to the translations of two ‘dialectically ambiguous’ terms Geist [mind/spirit] and aufheben [cancel/preserve/sublate]; an analysis of peritexts to the two translations. Starting with a discussion of Hegel’s ‘dialectical ambiguity’ in chapter 1 and an elaboration of the Bourdieusian theoretical framework in chapter 2, the thesis attempts to explain the lexical findings with reference to the concept of translatorial hexis in a manner which takes philosophical and sociological factors into consideration as determinants of the translators’ strategies. The analysis focuses on the positioning of Sir James Black Baillie with regard to Absolutist and Personalist versions of British Idealism and Terry Pinkard with regard to the non-metaphysical readings of Hegel and the development of communitarian ideologies.The publication of new translations of Hegel’s works and new critical works on German Idealism suggest that a Hegel revival is in full progress. Given the centrality of translation to this phenomenon, it is appropriate that translation studies should contribute to the discussion, especially to demonstrate the value of a self-reflexive, multi-disciplinary approach which brings linguistic analysis and sociological contextualisation to bear on some of the philosophical issues at stake.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Hegel’s Phenomenology, translatorial hexis, Bourdieu, philosophy translation


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