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真理是富人的特权吗?

真理是富人的特权吗?



我们翻译这篇文章的理由


天下熙攘,皆为利往。这是因为财富带来的特权,甚至获得真理对于富人而言都更唾手可得。但追求真理的路上,或贫或富,每个人都是平等的。人生在世,有时悲伤有时默默。但最后为你带来价值、让你被记住的,不是你追求到的那些真理,而是那个在追求真理的路上从未停下脚步的你。

——黄倩霞



👇


真理是富人的特权吗?


作者:Jonny Robinson

译者:张松 & 李蕾

校对:郭嘉宁

策划:黄倩霞 & 王宇琪


Would you rather have a fish or know how to fish?

学富五车和孜孜不倦,哪个更值得推崇?


Imagine the following. You are living a life with enough money and health and time so as to allow an hour or two of careless relaxation, sitting on the sofa at the end of the day in front of a large television, half-heartedly watching a documentary about solar energy with a glass of wine and scrolling through your phone. You happen to hear a fact about climate change, something to do with recent emission figures. Now, on that same night, a friend who is struggling to meet her financial commitments has just arrived at her second job and misses out on the documentary (and the relaxation). Later in the week, when the two of you meet for a drink and your friend is ignorant of recent emission figures, what kind of intellectual or moral superiority is really justified on your part?

想象一下,你拥有着可观的财富、健康的身体和充足的空闲时间,一天下来完全放松个一两个小时不成问题,在某天傍晚,你握着红酒杯坐在沙发上,面前的大电视播放着一部关于太阳能的纪录片,此刻的你边划着手机边心不在焉的看着纪录片,忽然之间,你恰好听到了一条关于气候变化的新闻,好像跟最近什么排放量的数据相关。而此时此刻,你的一个不那么宽裕的朋友才刚刚开始干她的第二份工作,错过了这部纪录片。周末你们聚会的时候,你的朋友对什么“近期排放量数据”毫不知情,而你有理由去认为自己在智力或道德上比她优越吗?

 

This example is designed to show that knowledge of the truth might very well have nothing to do with our own efforts or character. Many are born into severe poverty with a slim chance at a good education, and others grow up in religious or social communities that prohibit certain lines of enquiry. Others still face restrictions because of language, transport, money, sickness, technology, bad luck and so on. The truth, for various reasons, is much harder to access at these times. At the opposite end of the scale, some are effectively handed the truth about some matter as if it were a mint on their pillow, pleasantly materialising and not a big deal. Pride in this mere knowledge of the truth ignores the way in which some people come to possess it without any care or effort, and the way that others strive relentlessly against the odds for it and still miss out. The phrase ‘We know the truth [and, perhaps, you don’t]’, weaponised and presented without any qualifying modesty, fails to recognise the extraordinary privileges so often involved in that very acquisition, drawing an exclusionary line that overlooks almost everything else of significance.

这个事例旨在表明,对真理的了解很可能与我们的努力或者性格无关。很多人出身贫寒,接受良好教育的机会渺茫;也有人从小成长的环境里,宗教或者是社会习俗禁止了他们对某些知识的探索。有些人因为语言的障碍,或是交通不便,或是贫穷,或是疾病,甚至就是倒霉,在追求真相的路上面对重重的阻碍。对于这些人来说,受种种原因所困,获取真相无比困难。然而,在天平的另一边,真相对于一些人来说如同枕头上的薄荷糖一样,满不在乎也能轻松且准确地获得。仅仅因为知道真相就应该感到骄傲,这样的想法忽略了有些人并不需要怎么刻意努力就获取了真相,而有些人不厌其烦地为真理而奋斗但还是失之交臂。人们时常说:“我们知道真相(当然,你似乎不知道)”,以此来攻击他人。这说法不仅欠缺着应有的谦逊,没能认识到获取真相往往所需的种种特权,还将几乎其他一切重要的因素都忽略掉了。

 

A good attitude towards knowledge shines through various character traits that put us in a healthy relationship with it. Philosophers call these traits epistemic virtues. Instead of praising those people who happen to possess some piece of knowledge, we ought to praise those who have the right attitude towards it, since only this benchmark also includes those who strive for the truth and miss out on it for reasons not entirely under their control. Consider traits such as intellectual humility (a willingness to be wrong), intellectual courage (to pursue truths that make us uncomfortable), open-mindedness (to contemplate all sides of the argument, limiting preconceptions), and curiosity (to be continually seeking). You can see that the person ready to correct herself, courageous in her pursuit of the truth, open-minded in her deliberation, and driven by a deep curiosity has a better relationship to truth even where she occasionally fails to obtain it than does the indifferent person who is occasionally handed the truth on a silver platter.

某些性格特点能使我们与知识拥有良好的关系,形成对待知识的正确态度,哲学家管这种特点叫做认知美德(epistemic virtues)。我们应当赞扬这些对知识有着良好态度的人,而非碰巧得知的人,因为只有这样的标准才能囊括那些为真相孜孜不倦却因不可抗力而与其失之交臂的人。一个人如果拥有这些特点:谦逊(愿意犯错)、勇敢无畏(勇于追求让我们感到不舒服的真相)、思想开明(思考一个问题的所有立场,限制成见)、以及求知欲强(持之以恒的追求),你会看到她随时准备自我纠正,在追求真理之路上充满勇气,在思考的过程中保持开放,在好奇心的驱使下不断前行。相较一个对真相漠不关心,只是偶尔不费吹灰之力地扫到了一些的人,她即便有时未能获取真相,但却和真相有着更好的关系。


In a sense, it’s difficult to answer to the disjunction ‘Is it better to know, or to seek to know?’ because there is not quite enough information in it. In respect to knowing (the first half of the disjunction), we also want to hear how that knowledge came about. That is, was the knowledge acquired despite the disinterest and laziness of the possessor, or was it acquired through diligent seeking? If the latter, then it is better to know since the second half of the disjunction is also accommodated in the first: the possession of knowledge and the attitude of seeking it. We can build on the idea with another example.

从某种意义上说, “知晓真理与寻求真理,哪个更重要?” 这个割裂的问题很难回答,因为其中并没有足够的信息。关于“知晓真理”(问题的第一部分),我们会想知道这些真理是如何得来的。也就是说,它是被一个漠不关心且十分懒惰的人碰巧获得的,还是一个人通过勤奋的探索获得的?如果是后者的话,了解这一信息是有必要的,因为这样问题的第二部分便包含在了第一部分中:真理的获得以及探索它的态度。我们另举一例来阐释这个观点。


Would you rather have a fish or know how to fish? Again, we need some more information. If having the fish is the result of knowing how to fish, then once more the two halves of the disjunction are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and this combination is the ideal. But, if the having is the result of waiting around for someone to give you a fish, it would be better to know how to do it yourself. For where the waiting agent hopes for luck or charity, the agent who knows how to fish can return to the river each morning and each evening, throwing her line into the water over and over until she is satisfied with the catch.

你想要得到鱼,还是知道如何钓鱼?同样地,要回答这个问题,我们还需要更多的信息。如果鱼是自己钓来的,那么这个割裂的问题的两部分就不是互斥的,这种结合是一种理想状态。但是,如果鱼是等别人送来的,那么还是自己知道如何钓鱼比较好。在等待别人送鱼来的人祈求好运或者施舍的时候,那些掌握了钓鱼技能的人却能够每天早晚来到河边,一次又一次地扔入鱼线,直到满载而归。


And so it is with knowledge. Yes, it’s better to know, but only where this implies an accompanying attitude. If, instead, the possession of knowledge relies primarily upon the sporadic pillars of luck or privilege (as it so often does), one’s position is uncertain and in danger of an unfounded pride (not to mention pride’s own concomitant complications). Split into two discrete categories, then, we should prefer seeking to knowing. As with the agent who knows how to fish, the one who seeks knowledge can go out into the world, sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding, but in any case able to continue until she is satisfied with her catch, a knowledge attained. And then, the next day, she might return to the river and do it all again.

真理的问题也同理。诚然,知晓真理更好,但是前提是它包含了求知的态度。反之,如果真理主要是依靠不确定的运气或者特权(这十分常见)获得的,那么这个人的能力就会充满不确定性,并且可能陷入一种毫无根据的自满中(而自满本身又会带来其他问题)。因此,当问题被切分为两个独立的部分时,我们应该更倾向于选择“知道如何寻求真理”。就像知道如何钓鱼的人一样,那些寻求真理的人会积极探索世界,有时候会成功,有时候也会失败,但是无论如何,他都能够继续下去直到满载而归,获得真理。然后第二天,他可能会回到河边,再一次重复捕鱼之路。


A person will eventually come up against the world, logically, morally, socially, even physically. Some collisions will be barely noticeable, others will be catastrophic. The consistent posture of seeking the truth gives us the best shot at seeing clearly, and that is what we should praise and value.

对一个人来说,与世界的冲突是不可避免的,不论是在逻辑与道德上的异议,还是社会中的不公,甚至是身体上的碰撞。有些冲突微乎其微,难以察觉,有些则是灾难性的。保持探索真理的态度能够让我们最大可能地认清世界,值得我们的赞颂和珍视。




真理是富人的特权吗?

  • 本文原载于 Aeon

  • 原文链接https://aeon.co/ideas/would-you-rather-have-a-fish-or-know-how-to-fish


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