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思考出生与思考死亡同样令人惊惧

思考出生与思考死亡同样令人惊惧

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死亡焦虑之外,我们是否存在出生焦虑呢?当我们的思考视角从不存在转换至存在,为何存在、存在于何处、存在是什么的问题也就浮现了出来。

——王宇琪

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思考出生与思考死亡同样令人惊惧

作者:Alison Stone

译者:金殊羽 & 何翔宇

校对:王宇琪

策划:张松

Thinking about one’s birth is as uncanny as thinking of death

思考出生与思考死亡同样令人惊惧

Many people feel anxious about the prospect of their death. Indeed, some philosophers have argued that death anxiety is universal and that this anxiety bounds and organises human existence. But do we also suffer from birth anxiety? Perhaps. After all, we are all beings that are born as well as beings that die.
许多人在想到他们未来的死亡时都会感到焦虑。确实,一些哲学家认为,死亡焦虑是普遍的,它限定和建构了人类的存在。但我们是否也在经受着出生焦虑呢?也许是的。毕竟我们每一个人都面临着生老病死。

Whereas philosophers have said a lot about our anxiety about death, they have said little about birth anxiety. This is part-and-parcel of the broader neglect of birth in the Western philosophical tradition. The guiding thought has been that ‘all men are mortal’ (‘men’ in the sense of ‘human beings’) rather than ‘all human beings are mortal and natal’.
虽然哲学家们对死亡焦虑作过很多说明,但他们鲜少提到过出生焦虑。在西方哲学传统当中,对这一问题的忽视是非常普遍的。主流的思想从来都是“人皆有死”(“人”是指“全人类”),而不是“人皆有生与死”。

Once we bear in mind that we are natal as well as mortal, we see some ways in which being born can also occasion anxiety. As the bioethicist David Albert Jones writes in The Soul of the Embryo (2004):
当出生与死亡的认知在我们脑海中同样根深蒂固时,我们会意识到出生在某种程度上也会引起焦虑。正如生命伦理学家大卫·阿尔伯特·琼斯在《胚胎的灵魂》(2004)一书中所写:

We might be telling someone of a memory or event and then realise that, at that time, the person in front of us did not even exist! Someone who is real and significant in our lives, who is the centre of his or her own story … once did not exist. If we seriously consider the existence and the beginning of any one particular human being … we realise that it is something strange and profound. Many philosophers have recognised that the existence of the world is something mysterious … However, if we truly grasp the existence of any one person we see that this too is mysterious …
当我们给他人讲述一段记忆或描述一个事件时,可能会意识到,现在正在我们眼前的人彼时还没有出生。在我们生活中真真切切存在、对我们很重要的人,让自己的生命闪光的人……曾经在这个世界上并不存在。如果我们认真考虑存在和每一个人类个体的起源……我们会意识到这是一个奇怪而深刻的问题。许多哲学家承认世界的起源是神秘的……然而,如果我们真正去考虑每个人的存在,我们就会发现,它也同世界的起源一样神秘。
The same goes for each individual’s own existence. I began to exist at a certain point in time, and there is something mysterious about this. I haven’t always been there; for aeons, events in the world unfolded without me. But the transition from nonexistence to existence seems so absolute that it is hard to comprehend how I can have passed across it.
个体本身的存在也是如此。我在某个特定的时间点来到这个世界,这本身就带有一些神秘色彩。我们并非一直存在;在极漫长的一段时间内,世界上的万事万物都是在我们还未出生的情况下展开。但从不存在到存在的过渡似乎过于明确无疑,很难理解我们究竟是如何跨越了这个界限。

To compound the mystery further, there was no single crossing point. In reality, we don’t begin in the sudden, dramatic way announced by Ruby Lennox, the narrator and protagonist of Kate Atkinson’s novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995): ‘I exist! I am conceived to the chimes of midnight on the clock on the mantelpiece in the room across the hall.’ Rather, I came into existence gradually. When first conceived, I was a single cell (a zygote). Then I developed a formed body and began to have a rudimentary level of experience during gestation. And once out of my mother’s womb, I became involved in culture and relationships with others, and acquired a structured personality and history. Yet the zygote that I began as was still me, even though it had none of this.
使这种神秘感更为复杂的是,存在与不存在之间似乎没有明确的转折点。事实上,我们并不是在一瞬间以一种戏剧性的形式创生的——就像凯特·阿特金森的小说《博物馆幕后》当中的叙述者和主人公鲁比·伦诺克斯所说:“我来到了这个世界!我听到了午夜大厅对面的房间里,壁炉架上的钟表传来了钟声。”人们来到这个世界的过程是渐进的。母亲最初受孕时,我们是一个单独的细胞(受精卵),接着发育出了成形的身体,在母亲怀孕期间开始产生最基本的生命体验。脱离母亲的子宫后,我们开始身处文化环境当中,开始处理繁杂的人际关系,形成了结构化的人格和个人的发展历史。最初的那颗受精卵仍然是我们,尽管它并不具备以上这些特征。

This might seem to suggest that being born is mysterious rather than anxiety- inducing. But it is disconcerting that my particular existence defies comprehension in respect of its beginnings, and that the Universe contains many people each of whose beginning is likewise mysterious. When we confront these disconcerting realities, we can feel uneasy and uncomfortable. Our everyday, familiar world is exposed as having respects in which it goes beyond our understanding. We cannot feel so straightforwardly at home in the world. This is a sort of anxiety.
这样看来,出生似乎更多地带有神秘色彩,而并不会引起焦虑。但令人感到不安的是,我们的特定存在拒斥其对自身起源的理解,宇宙中亦存在着无数具有同样神秘起源的个体。面对这些令人不安的现实时,我们会感到不适。这时,我们每天所面对的无比熟悉的世界显示出了超出我们理解的一面。在这个世界上,我们不再感到那么自在。这就是一种焦虑。

Another factor in our difficulties making sense of our own origins is our inability to remember being born. This is part of our more general inability to remember our infancy – a phenomenon that Sigmund Freud in 1905 called ‘infantile amnesia’. Essentially, this amnesia is caused by the fact that our systems for forming and laying down memories change during childhood. This process of change is largely complete by ages six to eight. Whereas our early forms of memory are tacit, practical and emotional, the forms of memory we have acquired by age eight are explicit, linguistic and narratival. This change makes the earlier memories unavailable to us, and some of them are even destroyed.
另一个使我们难以理解自己起源的因素是我们无法记住我们的出生,这可以归结到我们无法记住婴儿时期的事情——1905年,西格蒙德·弗洛伊德(Sigmund Freud)将这个现象称为“婴儿失忆症”。这种失忆症本质上是由于我们形成和储存记忆的机制在儿童时期发生了变化,这一转变过程到六岁至八岁就会基本完成。我们早期的记忆形式是混沌的、偏动作性和富于情感的,而到八岁之后我们的记忆形式是清晰的、语言化和偏叙述性的。这种变化使我们无法记得早年的事情,有些记忆甚至会被破坏。

At the same time, the period of infancy is formative for us. This is when many fundamental features of our personalities take shape, under the influence of the particular individuals and circumstances we encounter then and of our relationships with our first caregivers. We form habits, patterns of action and reaction, that will remain with us throughout our lives. Every time I feel scared of a dog approaching me, I exhibit an emotional response I first formed in childhood. As I walk along with a particular gait and style of movement, I re-enact habits I established in childhood.
同时,婴儿期又在塑造着我们。在特定的人和事以及最初养育我们的人的影响下,我们人格的许多基本特征在这个时期形成。我们会养成习惯,产生行动和反应方式,这些会陪伴我们终生。每当狗的接近使我感到害怕时,我就会显示出从小就形成了的情感性反应;当我按照特定的步态和动作行走时,就会显现出童年时建立的习惯。
But since infancy and childhood are formative for us, and yet we can explicitly remember little about them, we are left in the dark about fundamental features of our own personalities. Why do we fall in and out of love with the people we do? Why does a certain song move me to tears and leave you cold? Infantile amnesia means that the rationale for much of our emotional lives lies out of our reach.
虽说婴儿期和童年塑造了我们,但我们却对其知之甚少,因此我们对自己人格的基本特征几乎一无所知。为什么我们会爱上一个人或是不再爱他?为什么一首歌会让我流泪,让我心痛?“婴儿失忆症”意味着我们无法解释自己大部分的情感生活。

To be born, and therefore to begin life as an infant and child, is to be destined to forget much of one’s early life, even while it still lives on within one. It is to be limited in how far one can understand oneself and the wellsprings of motivation from which one acts and reacts. This aspect of being born, as well as the mystery of our own beginnings, can arouse anxiety. For, when we pay attention to infantile amnesia, we can feel uneasy and uncomfortable realising that we will never be able to make full sense of ourselves or of our own motivations and impulses. We are bound in important ways to remain strangers to ourselves.
尽管早年的生活和记忆依旧对我们产生着影响,但是出生后即婴幼儿与童年的生活注定会使我们忘记其中的绝大部分。人们不能完全了解自己,也不能完全理解其行动和反应的动机源头。出生带来的这个问题以及我们早年间的谜团都会引起焦虑。当我们想到婴儿失忆症时,会感到不安和不自在,因为我们永远无法充分认清自己,了解自己的动机和冲动。在很多重要的事情上,我们对自己产生了一种距离感。
Yet there might still seem to be a basic reason why we cannot feel anxious to have been born as we feel anxious about death. My birth is in the past, whereas my death is in the future. One might intuitively think that we can feel anxious only about future possibilities.
然而,有一个原因可以解释为何我们对死亡感到焦虑而不为出生感到焦虑。出生发生在过去,而死亡要直视未来。一个人可能会直觉地认为我们只对未来的可能感到焦虑。

Then again, at times people do feel anxious about the past. Sometimes they feel social anxiety remembering having said or done the wrong thing in a past social situation. And post-traumatic stress disorder is anxiety about traumatic events suffered in the past. Indeed, the psychoanalytic theorist Otto Rank, author of The Trauma of Birth (1924), believed that we all experience birth anxiety understood as a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (although he didn’t use the phrase): anxiety prompted by memories of the trauma of leaving the mother’s womb.
但有的时候,人们确实对过去感到焦虑。有时,他们会因在社交活动中说错话或做错事而感到社交焦虑。创伤后应激障碍是因为过去遭受的创伤而产生的焦虑。《出生创伤》的作者,心理分析理论家奥托·兰克(Otto Rank)认为,我们都经历过出生焦虑症,这可以被理解为创伤后应激障碍的一种形式(尽管他没有使用该术语):离开母亲子宫的创伤引发的焦虑症。
But taking it that we can feel anxious about past events, the forms of birth anxiety discussed in this piece are not about my birth as a specific past event. Rather, they are anxieties about ongoing features of my existence that it has insofar as I was born – for instance, anxiety about how I am bound to be strange to myself by virtue of having been born. Here, these forms of birth anxiety are not so different from death anxiety after all, because death anxiety is likewise about my ongoing condition as a mortal being – I am always vulnerable to death, which can always intervene to leave my projects interrupted and unfinished. Similarly, in birth anxiety it is my whole condition as a natal being about which I am anxious.
但是尽管考虑到我们会对过去的事件感到焦虑,本文讨论的出生焦虑并不针对出生这一特定的过去事件。这些焦虑是出于我出生以来就有的一些持续性的存在特征,例如,我注定对这个出生后的自己感到陌生。这些形式的出生焦虑与死亡焦虑并无什么不同,因为死亡焦虑同样来源于当下的生存状况——人在死亡面前总是脆弱的,很多事会被中断无法完成。同样,在出生焦虑症中,我担忧自己作为有生者的整个存在。

思考出生与思考死亡同样令人惊惧

  • 本文原载于 AEON

  • 原文链接:https://aeon.co/ideas/thinking-about-ones-birth-is-as-uncanny-as-thinking-of-death

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