Re: [Foucault-L] Canguillhem & health: a question about translation / interpretation

Flywheel seems like a very odd translation to me: a flywheel does not 'regulate' in any sense, it maintains inertia (in the sense of forward momentum) to the crankshaft assembly in an engine, hence 'volant d'inertie'. I think in French it normally now means 'steering wheel', but might it be a metaphorical reference to 'flight controls' of some sort?

On 03/09/2010, at 11:58 PM, Teemu K wrote:

Dear all,

and especially all the French-reading friends of Canguilhem's work.
Apologies to those who find this too off-topic on this list.

I am currently finishing a translation of certain key passages of
Canguilhem's Normal & Pathological from French to Finnish. One term turned
out to be a bit problematic: volant régulateur.

"La santé est un volant régulateur des possibilités de réaction." (p 122,
2nd edition of "Essai", 1950)

The English translation by Fawcett:

""Health is a regulatory fly-wheel of the possibilities of reaction." (p
116, 1978 edition by Reidel)

A little bit of background: this passage begins with the idea that health is
security for the present and assurance for the future; it continues with how
life can, when necessary, surpass the expectations, ending elegantly with
the sentence: "Etre en bonne santé c'est pouvoir tomber malade et s'en
relever, c'est un luxe biologique."

So my question is about this volant regulateur: how should it be understood
& translated to English: steering wheel? fly-wheel (=volant d'inertie) as in
Fawcett's translation? safety margin? regulatory mechanism?


Teemu Kemppainen
University of Helsinki
Foucault-L mailing list

[Foucault-L] Canguillhem & health: a question about translation / interpretation, Teemu K
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