ontologiquement engageante

English translation: has ontological implications

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
French term or phrase:ontologiquement engageante
English translation:has ontological implications
Entered by: tatyana000

08:12 Nov 3, 2014
French to English translations [PRO]
Social Sciences - Philosophy
French term or phrase: ontologiquement engageante
From a text about divine knowledge in medieval Muslim philosophy (Avicenna, Al-Ghazali, Averroes):

Connaître X, donc, ça n’est pas comme être à la droite ou la gauche de Y, puisque la connaissance, à la différence de cette pure relation qu’est le positionnement, est, comme caractère, comme sifa, ***ontologiquement engageante***, si bien que, quand l’objet change, non seulement la connaissance change, mais le connaissant, en son essence, aussi, ce qui ne saurait valoir pour Dieu et nous oblige, du coup, à postuler un autre mode de connaissance du particulier pour l’Être nécessaire.

Les philosophes, c’est-à-dire ici Avicenne, dit Gh., se trompent, à la base de tout leur raisonnement,
qui conduit à leur thèse impie sur la connaissance par mode universel qu’aurait Dieu du particulier ;
et ils se trompent parce qu’ils ont une conception de la connaissance humaine du particulier ***ontologiquement engageante***, selon laquelle devrait correspondre aux variations du connu une variation essentielle du connaissant, et cela au nom d’une doctrine de la relation, appliquée à la connaissance, selon laquelle cette connaissance, qui inclurait dans sa réalité même le rapport à l’objet connu, ne constituerait pas une relation pure, de surface, extérieure à ce qu’elle relie, comme apposée, mais au contraire un « attribut essentiel » de l’être connaissant dont la variation, du coup, entraînerait ipso facto celle de cet être connaissant.

Si Avicenne a été conduit à poser sa thèse absurde, ruineuse, hérétique, en fait, d’une connaissance divine du singulier sur un mode universel, c’est pour avoir voulu éviter d’attribuer à Dieu un mode temporel de connaissance du particulier ***ontologiquement engageant*** dont il estimait, à tort, qu’il était correct et le seul possible.
tatyana000
Local time: 10:22
has ontological implications
Explanation:
or maybe "implying an ontological alteration" if you need to rework it at different points in the text.

It looks like a medieval version of the theory of internal/external relations. There are some relationships where the terms stay the same even if the relationship changes (external rels) and others where a change in the relationship changes the nature of the terms (internal rels).

The classic example of the first kind is spatial - like being to the left or right of something as your text says. Me and the table stay the same in our nature whether we are to the left or to the right of each other.

The classic example of the second kind is marriage (change from man/woman to husband/wife), but here the claim is that the relationship of knowledge changes the identity of the terms: knowing changes both the object known and the knower - which is to say it has ontological implications as it changes their identity.

From what I gather, in your text the problem is that God's knowledge can't have this kind of implication, as God is absolutely unchanging.

The expression is not as far as I can see a piece of terminology, so should be translated 'naturally' according to its meaning.

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Note added at 22 hrs (2014-11-04 06:38:43 GMT)
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To Francis: it's not a cheeky or childish question at all. I have myself explained how I understand the meaning of the passage in order to support my suggested translation, which is entirely appropriate in the case of complex texts like this. If you are confident of your suggestion you should be able to explain both the meaning of the translation you suggest and how it works in the sentence. The references you have given don't do that.
Selected response from:

Melissa McMahon
Australia
Local time: 20:22
Grading comment
Thank you! I think this a nice way of putting it in plain English.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4ontologically committing
Francis Marche
3 +1ontologically engaging
DLyons
3has ontological implications
Melissa McMahon
2which is involving, ontologically speaking
Barbara Cochran, MFA


  

Answers


14 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5
which is involving, ontologically speaking


Explanation:
Collins Robert Unabridged French/English Dictionary

Barbara Cochran, MFA
United States
Local time: 04:22
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
ontologically engaging


Explanation:
I'd translate literally. Muslim philosophy's "sifa" is the Greek σοφία, "wisdom". "caractère" is presumably "Nature".

DLyons
Ireland
Local time: 09:22
Works in field
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 16

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  philgoddard: Though I think the triple repetition isn't very good writing.
1 hr
  -> Thanks Phil. Maybe it's meant as a philosophical term, and hence has to be reused?
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13 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
has ontological implications


Explanation:
or maybe "implying an ontological alteration" if you need to rework it at different points in the text.

It looks like a medieval version of the theory of internal/external relations. There are some relationships where the terms stay the same even if the relationship changes (external rels) and others where a change in the relationship changes the nature of the terms (internal rels).

The classic example of the first kind is spatial - like being to the left or right of something as your text says. Me and the table stay the same in our nature whether we are to the left or to the right of each other.

The classic example of the second kind is marriage (change from man/woman to husband/wife), but here the claim is that the relationship of knowledge changes the identity of the terms: knowing changes both the object known and the knower - which is to say it has ontological implications as it changes their identity.

From what I gather, in your text the problem is that God's knowledge can't have this kind of implication, as God is absolutely unchanging.

The expression is not as far as I can see a piece of terminology, so should be translated 'naturally' according to its meaning.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 22 hrs (2014-11-04 06:38:43 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

To Francis: it's not a cheeky or childish question at all. I have myself explained how I understand the meaning of the passage in order to support my suggested translation, which is entirely appropriate in the case of complex texts like this. If you are confident of your suggestion you should be able to explain both the meaning of the translation you suggest and how it works in the sentence. The references you have given don't do that.

Melissa McMahon
Australia
Local time: 20:22
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 74
Grading comment
Thank you! I think this a nice way of putting it in plain English.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
ontologically committing


Explanation:
"Perhaps, for example, the name 'God' has an ontologically committing occurrence – as in the sentence 'God exists'."
from "Arguing about Gods" By Graham Oppy

"41 Note the asymmetry: 'a exists,' whether true or false, is ontologically committing, but 'a does not exist,' whether true or false, is not ontologically committing"
from "A Paradigm Theory of Existence: Onto-Theology Vindicated" by By W.F. Vallicella

The concept holds currency in the Analytic School (Quine, etc.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_commitment


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Note added at 18 hrs (2014-11-04 02:55:38 GMT)
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As the above references show, the Quinean concept is making a career in theology and is not out of place here. The French "engagement ontologique" is basically a calque of the phrase coined by Quine (that's some alliteration isn't ;-) and is not a "faux-ami".

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Note added at 21 hrs (2014-11-04 06:02:31 GMT)
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To Melissa : That's cheeky. I suppose "Yes I can but I won't do it" would be a fair answer, as childish as the question. From the references I've posted, it seems some have shown it in books haven't they ?

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Note added at 1 day1 hr (2014-11-04 10:01:55 GMT)
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To Melissa again : Concepts are routinely developed in specific areas of knowledge (say Analytic philosophy and the work of Quine), from which they subsequently migrate to other areas (say theology and theogonies) where they become incorporated into the respective tool kits of these areas. In the process their links and/or relevance to their original birthplaces become thin, metonomic and distant and the original concepts can no longer traced back in their new surroundings where they operate as mere tooll; which explains why, if during a presentation on cake and viennoiserie making the speaker says something like "There is RELATIVITY in the way pain au chocolat and brioche au beurre respectively affect the health of consumers with high cholesterol levels", and someone stands up in the audience to interrupt the presentation with the question "Can you explain exactly how Einstein's concept works in this ?", this question and attitude from that person will be regarded as irrelevant and yes, childish. Well at least that's how I would regard them, which explains how and why I qualified your question.

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Note added at 1 day1 hr (2014-11-04 10:03:23 GMT)
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read above "no longer be traced back"; "mere tools"

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Note added at 1 day2 hrs (2014-11-04 10:56:00 GMT)
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The main point to support my choice of Quine's phrase is that "ontologiquement engageante" is THE French calque of "ontologically committing". The French phrase "ontologiquement engageante" is not naturally occurring, so to speak, in the language. It only exists with this calque status of Quine's phrase, it's opaque and basically meaningless outside this status.

When googling "engagement ontologique" one would be hard put to find more than a handful references out of 5000 which are not directly related to Quine's work. For me, this is evidence enough to identify what we are dealing with : a straight calque covering a concept recycled in an area of knowledge and research (theology) quite remote from its original philosophical ecosystem. That's my rationale for choosing this term.



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Note added at 1 day20 hrs (2014-11-05 04:12:51 GMT)
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A prima facie piece of evidence that the term “engagement ontologique”

a. Is indeed THE Quinean term/concept; and
b. Is widely used in French as a tool to discuss philosophical non-Quinean topics and issues outside the area and systems covered by the Analytic School in general and Quine’s work in particular.

From a 2012 paper by French philosopher Raphael Millière of ENS : "Introduction à la topologie du temps", where the author discusses W.H. Newton-Smith’s The Structure of Time (1980) and compares its tenets and central thesis with the relevant neo-platonist schemas and models produced by Jamblique (c.245-c.325) after Archytas de Tarente (c.435-347 BC), this excerpt from the conclusion:

"Newton-Smith soutient que le temps n’a pas forcément la topologie standard, c’est-à-dire que nous pouvons soutenir sans inconsistance ou absurdité conceptuelle que le temps possède une autre structure topologique. On peut arguer que la topologie standard possède une plus grande « flexibilité », et qu’il est donc préférable, quelle que soit la topologie du monde dans lequel nous nous trouvons, de l’adopter. Néanmoins, pour un empiriste faillibiliste, nous ne pouvons pas exclure que les meilleures théories physiques reposent, à l’avenir, sur un temps discret, ou clos, ou arborescent, etc. Dès lors, le rôle du métaphysicien n’est pas de trancher entre tel ou tel modèle topologique, mais d’expliciter le contenu et les conséquences ****(ou les engagements ontologiques, en termes quiniens)**** de tel ou tel modèle, en laissant l’investigation empirique et les théories physiques suggérer le meilleur choix.

The link to this reference : http://www.atmoc.fr/resources/Milliere---topologie-du-temps....



Francis Marche
France
Local time: 10:22
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 32
Notes to answerer
Asker: I was waiting to hear from my client to confirm that this was a reference to Quine, but he hasn't gotten back to me. So I chose Melissa's "safe" answer, which explains the concept in plain English, but I suspect you're right. Thank you as well!


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  DLyons: As per Quine and others
31 mins
  -> Thank you!

disagree  Melissa McMahon: Ontological commitment in the Quinean sense is a faux ami here/Can you explain exactly how Quine's concept works in this passage?
8 hrs
  -> It looks like it but in fact it's not. "Ontologiquement engageant" is the standard translation/calque of "ontologically committing". And the Quinean concept was ploughed back to theological/ontological studies. Engagement ontologique IS ontolo. commitment
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