As it is well-known, Kant is one of the most important philosophers, who has had and still has a profound influence on the development of human sciences and thought. He is also a philosopher whose thoughts and ideas have been most studied by researchers and scholars in the field of philosophy. Although Kant's philosophy has been studied in Korea for more than 100 years, the translation of Kant's complete works into Korean has not yet been published properly. Our academic setting is very inferior in comparison with foreign countries, e. g. England, the U.S.A, and Japan, where all the complete works of Kant are already published and their translated books are also newly revised according to the usage of today's language.
Of course, many individual researchers have translated major works of Kant, which have been published in his lifetime. However, there are still many writings that need to be translated in order to engage an academic study, for instance pre-critical writings, lectures, opus postumum, and letters. Moreover, texts translated by individual researchers are still exposed to many problems. Many of them only translated Kant's works partially, not the entire text. They contain also incorrect translations by lack of expertise in the related field. Moreover, when experts translated the works of Kant, they used the different translation terms. This causes a lot of difficulties and confusion for the scholars of future generation. In addition, Kant's writings translated by the first generation of Kant studies, such as ‘Critique of Pure Reason’, ‘Critique of Practical Reason’ and ‘Critique of Judgement’, are poorly readable because of excessive use of Chinese and Japanese character, which make it difficult for young beginners to have an access to Kant’s philosophy.
Translation should primarily adhere to the original text, and indicate an accurate meaning of it. Moreover, it should be as readable as possible so that anyone, who is interested in Kant's philosophy, can understand it without any difficulty. Even if they are translated literally as possible, they can’t be a good translation if readers could not comprehend them. On the contrary, even though it is highly readable for readers, it can’t be a good one as well, when it distorts the meaning of the original text. These are many current problems of Korean translations of Kant’ writings that have not fulfilled the basic purpose of translation. Thus, we are faced with the urgent task to provide (a) an accurate translation with expertise based on existing accumulated researches, (b) a maximum assurance of readability, and (c) a systematic reunification of terminology with regard to the Korean translation of Kant’s writings. The fulfillment of these three conditions can never be accomplished by the work of one or two scholars. It is because Kant's writings require a discussion on various disciplines. The contents of his philosophy of science are impossible to be translated unless one has the pre-knowledge to natural science. Moreover, Kant's various works, for instance, his philosophy of religion, art, law, ethics, and anthropology can not be translated without pre-knowledge to these fields. In reality, however, there is nobody among the domestic researchers today, who can deal with so many fields altogether. Therefore, the translation of Kant's writings into Korean has to be carried out by researchers from related fields working together through joint research and discussion. Moreover, it is necessary to have the collaborative work in order to unify Kant’s philosophical terminology. Also, since Kant’s writings have specialized terminology and contents, a simple translation disregarding a context simply can not provide readers with a highly readable translation. For highly readable translations, philosophical commentaries or footnotes must be simultaneously added in the translation. This is possible only through the collaborative work by professional researchers.
Therefore, in order to successfully execute the translation of Kant's complete works, a cooperative work of researchers rather than an individual scholar is required. Thus, we will proceed with the translation of Kant’s completed works into Korean language surely on the level of Kant Society in Korea. The Korean Kant Society is carrying out this project jointly with Institute of Humanities at Yeungnam University.
Expect Effect / Research Utilization
  Firstly, when Kant’s main writings are translated and published in the unified terms in respect to philosophical footnotes as well as commentaries that have been proven by qualified exegetical studies, these will provide the standardized philosophical terminology to the scholars of future generation. It will also allow them to get away from confusion of terms, and carry out systematic researches based on a translated collection of Kant’s works. The highly qualified translation of the complete collection will offer the most basic foundation for the inculturation of Kant’s thoughts in our academic field and enable also to execute creative interpretation. This will also affect researches in other disciplines within or outside of philosophy, and ultimately serve as a springboard, which enables our researches reach the international level in a short period of time.
Secondly, the education and researches of the humanities in the institutional area is recently more difficult than ever. There are also a very few young researchers in the Korean Kant society. If this situation would persist, the disruption of succeeding generations could inevitably occur. Therefore, in order to overcome such a situation, we need to improve our Kant's scholarship, which is closely connected with the actual results of translation of original texts. The result of this translation will indeed stimulate researches in Kant’s philosophy and provoke the curiosity of beginners in Kant studies. In a word, it can provide a foundation of fostering new researchers in Kant studies.
Finally, it is well-known that Kant’s philosophy is highly estimated. So students as well as professional researchers try to get familiar with his writings. Yet it is repeatedly observed that the translations of his original writings are so difficult to comprehend. Thus, their efforts have become easily frustrated and they don’t try to read them any more. In order to solve these problems, it is urgent to publish the translation of Kant’s writings, which are highly readable and contain the accurate meaning of original texts. If the translation of the original text is properly completed, an introductory to Kant’s philosophy, a commentary on the Kant's original text, and a glossary of Kant’s philosophy may be worked and published afterwards. Actually, it is no exaggeration to say that the terminology of modern Western philosophy began its systematization with Kant’s philosophy. Therefore, it is necessary for us to go through Kant’s philosophy to understand the terminology of modern Western philosophy properly. In this sense, the work of introductory and glossary in regard to Kant’s philosophy will help college students and also the general public to get familiar with terminology of Western philosophy better, which will lead to a profound understanding of his thoughts and ideas.
Project Name : Basic Research Support for Foundational Human/Social Science Researches
Research Title : The publication project for korean edition of collected works of I. Kant [KRM Task Information ]
Chief of Research : Choi, So-In
Research Institution : Yeungnam University
Research Period : 3 Years(September 1, 2013 — August 31, 2016)