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苏格拉底——活在当代

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两千四百年前,有一个人试图寻找生命的意义。他的研究激进、有魅力,且离经叛道,这让他扬名整个地中海。人们——尤其是年轻人——聚集在一起听他的演讲。一些人被他的禁欲主义所感召。他们留着长发,光着脚,穿着破旧的衣服。他让一整个城市着迷,士兵、妓女、商人、贵族——都来听他演讲。正如西塞罗所描绘的,“他把哲学从天上拉了下来。”
Two thousand four hundred years ago, one man tried to discover the meaning of life. His search was so radical, charismatic and counterintuitive that he become famous throughout the Mediterranean. Men – particularly young men – flocked to hear him speak. Some were inspired to imitate his ascetic habits. They wore their hair long, their feet bare, their cloaks torn. He charmed a city; soldiers, prostitutes, merchants, aristocrats – all would come to listen. As Cicero eloquently put it, "He brought philosophy down from the skies."
有差不多半个世纪,他被允许在他家乡的街上不受打扰地进行哲学研究。但是事情接下来开始变得丑陋了。他曾经光彩夺目的城邦不断受到外国的和国内战争的摧残。经济瓦解了,年复一年,男人们被死着抬回家,人民没有饭吃,整个政治局面都被颠覆。转瞬之间,这位哲学家绝妙的主意,永恒的问题,特立独行的方法,开始显得不和谐起来。因为如此,公元前399年一个春日的上午,他被人类最早的民主法庭押解到了被告席上,面临以下两项指控:不尊重城邦传统的神灵和腐化年轻人。他被认定有罪。他的惩罚是城邦赞助的自裁,为他在监狱里提供了毒菫汁。
For close on half a century this man was allowed to philosophise unhindered on the streets of his hometown. But then things started to turn ugly. His glittering city-state suffered horribly in foreign and civil wars. The economy crashed; year in, year out, men came home dead; the population starved; the political landscape was turned upside down. And suddenly the philosopher's bright ideas, his eternal questions, his eccentric ways, started to jar. And so, on a spring morning in 399BC, the first democratic court in the story of mankind summoned the 70-year-old philosopher to the dock on two charges: disrespecting the city's traditional gods and corrupting the young. The accused was found guilty. His punishment: state-sponsored suicide, courtesy of a measure of hemlock poison in his prison cell.
这个人就是苏格拉底,来自古雅典的哲学家,可以考证的西方思想之父。如果知道他的出身,这不算太坏。他是一名石像雕刻师的儿子,大约出生于公元前469年,苏格拉底因他的古怪而出名。在这样一个狂热的追求外貌美丽(精美的面孔被认为代表了灵魂的高尚)的地方,这位哲学家显得格外的丑陋。苏格拉底有个啤酒肚,怪异的走路姿势,滴溜直转的眼睛,长满毛的手。他成长在雅典的郊区,这个充满创造力的城市——他亲眼目睹了希腊的奇迹。但当贫穷的苏格拉底(他以前在街上义务向人们宣讲)穿过这城市的中心集市时,他会煽动人们,“有多少我不需要的东西呢!”
The man was Socrates, the philosopher from ancient Athens and arguably the true father of western thought. Not bad, given his humble origins. The son of a stonemason, born around 469BC, Socrates was famously odd. In a city that made a cult of physical beauty (an exquisite face was thought to reveal an inner nobility of spirit) the philosopher was disturbingly ugly. Socrates had a pot-belly, a weird walk, swivelling eyes and hairy hands. As he grew up in a suburb of Athens, the city seethed with creativity – he witnessed the Greek miracle at first-hand. But when poverty-striken Socrates (he taught in the streets for free) strode through the city's central marketplace, he would harrumph provocatively, "How many things I don't need!"
当信仰在雅典还是自由的时候,苏格拉底受到了一种特别的个人崇拜,这崇拜建立于他称之为的“灵魂”,他的“内心之声”。这“鬼怪”会在出人意料的时候找到他,这时这位哲学家数小时站立不动,目视前方。我们现在认为他可能是受到全身僵硬症的困扰,这是一种使肌肉僵硬的神经疾病。
Whereas all religion was public in Athens, Socrates seemed to enjoy a peculiar kind of private piety, relying on what he called his "daimonion", his "inner voice". This "demon" would come to him during strange episodes when the philosopher stood still, staring for hours. We think now he probably suffered from catalepsy, a nervous condition that causes muscular rigidity.
不谈他在文明进程名人榜上不可动摇的地位,我们为什么要在意这个好奇的、聪明的、被送进监狱的希腊人呢?很简单,因为苏格拉底的问题也是我们自己的问题。他生活在一个首次解决了真正的民主在人类社会中应该扮演什么角色的城邦。他的家乡——成功而且富有——因它对精美物品、新鲜感受、外国货币的过度需求而深陷泥潭。
Putting aside his unshakable position in the global roll-call of civilisation's great and good, why should we care about this curious, clever, condemned Greek? Quite simply because Socrates's problems were our own. He lived in a city-state that was for the first time working out what role true democracy should play in human society. His hometown – successful, cash-rich – was in danger of being swamped by its own vigorous quest for beautiful objects, new experiences, foreign coins.
这位哲学家也经历(并且直接参加)了打着民主政治——人民权利旗号的战争。五世纪伯罗奔尼撒反对斯巴达及其联盟的运动被当时的许多人批判,称其为“缺乏正义”。尽管有一部分人愿意接受这种新型的民主政治,其他人迫于雅典的威逼,只能以刀枪的形式来“爱”它。苏格拉底质疑这种盲目的服从,并且将其上升到了思想体系层面。他问,“如果建造墙壁、战舰、金光闪闪的雕塑的人并不开心,那么这都有什么意义?”如果人们并不热爱生活,那么为什么生活下去呢?
The philosopher also lived through (and fought in) debilitating wars, declared under the banner of demos-kratia – people power, democracy. The Peloponnesian conflict of the fifth century against Sparta and her allies was criticised by many contemporaries as being "without just cause". Although some in the region willingly took up this new idea of democratic politics, others were forced by Athens to love it at the point of a sword. Socrates questioned such blind obedience to an ideology. "What is the point," he asked, "of walls and warships and glittering statues if the men who build them are not happy?" What is the reason for living life, other than to love it?
对于苏格拉底来说,追求知识就如同我们呼吸空气一样重要。除了脑海中智慧的老者的形象,我们应当向他同时代的人那样来了解他:一个忙碌的,充满活力的,嗜酒的,人们喜爱的,健壮的,鼻子扁平,身带刀剑的老兵,总而言之,他是一个世界公民,一个街上的游民。
For Socrates, the pursuit of knowledge was as essential as the air we breathe. Rather than a brainiac grey-beard, we should think of him as his contemporaries knew him: a bustling, energetic, wine-swilling, man-loving, vigorous, pug-nosed, sword-bearing war-veteran: a citizen of the world, a man of the streets.
根据为他写传记的柏拉图和色诺芬的记载,苏格拉底不仅仅只是研究了生命的意义,还研究了我们自己生活的意义。他对于人类的存在刨根问底。什么使我们开心?什么使我们优异?什么是美德?什么是爱?什么是恐惧?我们怎样才能活得最好?苏格拉底预见到了现代社会的来临,并且他显然对我们今天的生活方式有话要说。
According to his biographers Plato and Xenophon, Socrates did not just search for the meaning of life, but the meaning of our own lives. He asked fundamental questions of human existence. What makes us happy? What makes us good? What is virtue? What is love? What is fear? How should we best live our lives? Socrates saw the problems of the modern world coming; and he would certainly have something to say about how we live today.
他担心新出现的文字记录的力量会伤害面对面的交流。雅典的集会所就是他的讲堂。据色诺顿的记载,他会向毫无准备的路人发问。“一天苏格拉底在雅典的一条街上遇见了一个年轻人,‘在哪里可以找到面包呢?’哲学家问。那个年轻人礼貌地回答了。‘那么在哪里可以找到啤酒呢?’苏格拉底问。年轻人还是彬彬有礼地回答了苏格拉底。‘那么在那里可以找到好人和圣人呢?’苏格拉底又问。年轻人感到很困惑,不能回答。‘跟我到街上学习吧!’哲学家说。”
He was anxious about the emerging power of the written word over face-to-face contact. The Athenian agora was his teaching room. Here he would jump on unsuspecting passersby, as Xenophon records. "One day Socrates met a young man on the streets of Athens. 'Where can bread be found?' asked the philosopher. The young man responded politely. 'And where can wine be found?' asked Socrates. With the same pleasant manner, the young man told Socrates where to get wine. 'And where can the good and the noble be found?' then asked Socrates. The young man was puzzled and unable to answer. 'Follow me to the streets and learn,' said the philosopher."
苏格拉底认为直接的,当面的交流可以强化某种方面的诚实,而文字却具有欺骗性,尤其是当其被广泛应用的时候。“你也许认为这些说出来的话很有智慧,但是如果你仔细考虑,它们往往只说了一件事……每个词……当虐待和辱骂需要它的父亲来保护它时。”他说
Whereas immediate, personal contact helped foster a kind of honesty, Socrates argued that strings of words could be manipulated, particularly when disseminated to a mass market. "You might think words spoke as if they had intelligence, but if you question them they always say only one thing . . . every word . . . when ill-treated or unjustly reviled always needs its father to protect it," he said.
当今天心理学家们指出下一代花了太多时间使用键盘来打字的时候,苏格拉底也许会露出他愤怒的“我说过吧”的微笑。他大概也会对我们现在对于收集信息、逐项检查,而缺乏对我们周身世界深刻理解的热情感到恐惧。如果我们并不爱这个世界,那么深入的研究它有什么意义呢?他想得更进一步:“爱,是我理解的一件事。”
When psychologists today talk of the danger for the next generation of too much keyboard and texting time, Socrates would have flashed one of his infuriating "I told you so" smiles. Our modern passion for fact-collection and box-ticking rather than a deep comprehension of the world around us would have horrified him too. What was the point, he said, of cataloguing the world without loving it? He went further: "Love is the one thing I understand."
今年早些时候的电视竞选也会使苏格拉底停下来质疑。如果他看到这样一个光鲜的、辞藻华丽的表演,苏格拉底一定非常失望。对他来说,一个强辩的,没有实质内容的争论是非常恶心的东西:不实的言辞是对一个“良好”社会最大的威胁。
The televised election debates earlier this year would also have given pause. Socrates was withering when it came to a polished rhetorical performance. For him a powerful, substanceless argument was a disgusting thing: rhetoric without truth was one of the greatest threats to the "good" society.
有趣的是,电视辩论只不过是老旧的戏法。公开辩论和政治竞争(希腊语单词是agon,给我们今天带来了痛苦(agony))在民主雅典都是家常便饭。所有18岁以上的男性公民都参与政治活动。每个人都可以在尼克斯山岗上举行的露天集会上提出事项,要求讨论或者投票。通过一系列复杂的程序,一个普通人也可以当一年的州长,或者当一天的内政大臣或外交部长。而那些更喜欢私人生活的人被视为白痴。
Interestingly, the TV debate experiment would have seemed old hat. Public debate and political competition (agon was the Greek word, which gives us our "agony") were the norm in democratic Athens. Every male citizen over the age of 18 was a politician. Each could present himself in the open-air assembly up on the Pnyx to raise issues for discussion or to vote. Through a complicated system of lots, ordinary men might be made the equivalent of heads of state for a year; home secretary or foreign minister for the space of a day. Those who preferred a private to a public life were labelled idiotes (hence our word idiot).
苏格拉底是在雅典的黄金岁月——一个雄心勃勃的,激进的,想象中的城邦——越上了世界领袖的巅峰之时去世的,在此之后雅典开始分化瓦解。这时他受到的不寻常的个人崇拜,对于年轻人神似的吸引力,突然都成了不祥的征兆。尽管雅典崇尚自由演说这个概念(甚至以此命名了它的一艘战舰Parrhesia(意即无畏的演说)),但是人们还是要解决表达自我的自由离冒犯他人的自由究竟有多远的问题。
Socrates died when Golden Age Athens – an ambitious, radical, visionary city-state – had triumphed as a leader of the world, and then over-reached herself and begun to crumble. His unusual personal piety, his guru-like attraction to the young men of the city, suddenly seemed to have a sinister tinge. And although Athens adored the notion of freedom of speech (the city even named one of its warships Parrhesia after the concept), the population had yet to resolve how far freedom of expression ratified a freedom to offend.
我认为,苏格拉底是雅典失望情绪的替罪羊。当这城市强盛时,他可以容忍这样一个怪异的哲学家。但当受到敌人侵略,饥饿,并且对民主本身产生质疑的时候,雅典则以更基础的眼光看待这些问题。一个自信的社可以对自身产生疑问,但当它很脆弱的时候,它惧怕这种疑问。苏格拉底的名言“未经审视的生活是豪无价值的”,从他被审判时开始,明显开始动摇了。
Socrates was, I think, a scapegoat for Athens's disappointment. When the city was feeling strong, the quirky philosopher could be tolerated. But, overrun by its enemies, starving, and with the ideology of democracy itself in question, the Athenians took a more fundamentalist view. A confident society can ask questions of itself; when it is fragile, it fears them. Socrates's famous aphorism "the unexamined life is not worth living" was, by the time of his trial, clearly beginning to jar.
他死之后,苏格拉底的思想对西方和东方文明都产生的巨大影响。他在伊斯兰文化中的影响力是常常被忽视的——在中东和北非,从11世纪之后,他的思想被重新提出并且滋润了那片土地,“就像……炎热午时清澈的水。”他被提名为“七大智慧支柱”之一,他的别名“源泉”。遗憾的是,对于许多人来说,苏格拉底成为了一个崇高而遥远的形象。
After his death, Socrates's ideas had a prodigious impact on both western and eastern civilisation. His influence in Islamic culture is often overlooked – in the Middle East and North Africa, from the 11th century onwards, his ideas were said to refresh and nourish, "like . . . the purest water in the midday heat". Socrates was nominated one of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, his nickname "The Source". So it seems a shame that, for many, Socrates has become a remote, lofty kind of a figure.
当苏格拉底最终站在雅典集会所的宗教法庭上面对他的指控的时候,他振聋发聩地指出了人类社会最可悲的地方。“并不是我的罪过是我受到判决,”他说“而是谣言和流言蜚语,聚在一起小声议论我使你们说服自己我确实有罪。”正如另一为希腊作家,赫西奥德所说,“远离人们的闲言碎语吧。因为谣言实是一件邪恶的事物。当你把她举起来时他很轻,是的,但想把她移开或是放下的时候就很重了。人们一旦纵情于她,她就永远不会彻底离开。”
When Socrates finally stood up to face his charges in front of his fellow citizens in a religious court in the Athenian agora, he articulated one of the great pities of human society. "It is not my crimes that will convict me," he said. "But instead, rumour, gossip; the fact that by whispering together you will persuade yourselves that I am guilty." As another Greek author, Hesiod, put it, "Keep away from the gossip of people. For rumour [the Greek pheme, via fama in Latin, gives us our word fame] is an evil thing; by nature she's a light weight to lift up, yes, but heavy to carry and hard to put down again. Rumour never disappears entirely once people have indulged her."
媒介审判,总是有很可怕的潜力。它是一个把苏格拉底带向毒酒的动荡时代人们观点的缩影。我们不应当步那些控告苏格拉底的人的后尘,而最好是仔细想想他“认识你自己”的忠告,对自己诚实,做我们自己,而不是旁边的什么人,知道什么是正确的。不要躲在愤怒的、咆哮的兽群之后,这也许会很困难,但也要找准目标,向“美好”的生活前进。
Trial by media, by pheme, has always had a horrible potency. It was a slide in public opinion and the uncertainty of a traumatised age that brought Socrates to the hemlock. Rather than follow the example of his accusers, we should perhaps honour Socrates's exhortation to "know ourselves", to be individually honest, to do what we, not the next man, knows to be right. Not to hide behind the hatred of a herd, the roar of the crowd, but to aim, hard as it might be, towards the "good" life.
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2010-10-21 20:10 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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