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完成翻译奈吉尔•沃伯顿的《基础哲学》

(2010-01-18 03:49:11)
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基础哲学

杂谈

分类: 译文

完成翻译奈吉尔•沃伯顿的《基础哲学》

 

Introduction

导言

 

What is philosophy? This is a notoriously difficult question. One of the easiest ways of answering it is to say that philosophy is what philosophers do, and then point to the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Russell, Wittgenstein, Sartre, and other famous philosophers. However, this answer is unlikely to be of much use to you if you are just beginning the subject, as you probably won't have read anything by these writers. Even if you have, it may still be difficult to say what they have in common, if indeed there is a relevant characteristic which they all share. Another approach to the question is to point out that philosophy is derived from the Greek word meaning 'love of wisdom'. However, this is rather vague and even less helpful than saying that philosophy is what philo­sophers do. So some very general comments about what philosophy is are needed.

    什么是哲学?这是一个极难的问题。最简单的回答方式之一,是说哲学就是哲学家做的事,然后指出柏拉图、亚里士多德、笛卡尔、休谟、康德、罗素、维特根斯坦、萨特以及其他著名哲学家的著作。然而,如果你初学这门课,这个回答对你不大可能有用,因为你多半还没读过这些著作家的任何东西。即便你读过,或许也仍然难说他们有什么共同之处,即便他们的确都有某种相关的特点。回答这个问题的另一条途径,是指出哲学来自一个希腊词,意思是“爱智慧”。然而,这太笼统,比说哲学是哲学家做的事还更不帮忙。因此,关于什么是哲学这个问题,某些一般的解释是需要的。

 

Philosophy is an activity: it is a way of thinking about certain sorts of question. Its most distinctive feature is its use of logical argument. Philosophers typically deal in arguments: they either invent them, criticise other people's, or do both. They also analyse and clarify concepts. The word 'philosophy' is often used in a much broader sense than this to mean one's general outlook on life, or else to refer to some forms of mysticism. I will not be using the word in this broader sense here: my aim is to illuminate some of the key areas of discussion in a tradition of thought which began with the Ancient Greeks and has flourished in the twentieth century, predominantly in Europe, North America, and Australia and New Zealand.

    哲学是一种活动:哲学是关于某些种类的问题的一种思想方式。它最鲜明的特点,是它使用逻辑论证。哲学家们一般是处理一些论点:他们发明论点,或者批评别人的论点,或者既发明,也批评。他们也分析和澄清概念。“哲学”这个词,经常在比此更广得多的意义上被使用,意思是一个人对生活的一般看法,或者指某些形式的神秘主义。我在这里对这个词的使用,意义不这么宽泛:我的目的,是阐明在一种思想传统中的一些关键的讨论领域,这个思想传统始于古希腊人,一直兴盛于二十世纪,主要存在于欧洲、北美以及澳大利亚和新西兰。

 

What kind of things do philosophers working in this tradition argue about? They often examine beliefs that most of us take for granted most of the time. They are concerned with questions about what could loosely be called 'the meaning of life': questions about religion, right and wrong, politics, the nature of the external world, the mind, science, art, and numerous other topics. For instance, most people live their lives without questioning their fundamental beliefs, such as that killing is wrong. But why is it wrong? What justification is there for saying that killing is wrong? Is it wrong in every circumstance? And what do I mean by 'wrong' anyway? These are philosophical questions. Many of our beliefs, when examined, turn out to have firm foundations; but some do not. The study of philosophy not only helps us to think clearly about our prejudices, but also helps to clarify precisely what we do believe. In the process it develops an ability to argue coherently on a wide range of issues -a useful transferable skill.

这个传统中的哲学家们争论的是些什么东西呢?他们经常细究一些我们大多数人在大多数时候视为当然的信念。他们关心的一些问题所涉及的事情,可以松散被叫作“生活的意义”:宗教、对与错、政治、外在世界的本性、心灵、科学、艺术,以及其他大量问题。比方说,大多数人过日子却不曾质问自己的基本信念,如杀人是错误的。但是,为什么杀人是错误的?有什么正当理由说杀人是错误的?在任何情况下杀人都是错误的吗?我说“错误”的意思是什么?这些都是哲学问题。我们的许多信念,细究起来,结果具有坚实的基础;但是,有一些没有坚实的基础。研究哲学,不仅有助于我们清晰地思考我们的偏见,而且有助于准确地澄清我们所确实相信的那些东西。在这个过程中,哲学培养一种能力,一种就范围广泛的问题,条理一贯地进行论证的能力——这是一种可以传授的有用技巧。

 

Philosophy and its history

哲学与哲学史

 

Since the time of Socrates there have been many great philosophers. I named a few of these in my opening paragraph. An introductory book on philosophy could approach the subject historically, analysing the contributions of these philosophers in chronological order. This is not what I shall do here. Instead I will use a topic-based approach: one focusing on particular philosophical questions rather than on history. The history of philosophy is a fascinating and important subject in it own right, and many of the classic philosophical texts are also great works of literature: Plato's Socratic dialogues, Rene Descartes’ Meditations, David Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Under­standing, and Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, to take just a few examples, all stand out as compelling pieces of writing by any standards. Whilst there is great value in the study of the history of philosophy, my aim here is to give you the tools to think about philosophical issues yourselves rather than simply to explain what certain great figures have thought about them. These issues are not just of interest to philosophers: they arise naturally out of the human situation and many people who have never opened a philosophy book spontaneously think about them.

自从苏格拉底的时代以来,出现了很多大哲学家。在开篇的那一段里,我举了几位哲学家。一本介绍哲学的书,可以以历史的方式来触及这个主题,以时间顺序分析哲学家们的贡献。我在这里将不这么做。我将用以论题为基础的方式,集中于一些特别的哲学问题,而不集中于哲学史。哲学史本身自有理由是一门引人入胜的重要课程,一些经典的哲学文本,也是伟大的文学作品:柏拉图的苏格拉底对话、勒奈·笛卡尔的《哲学沉思录》、大卫·休谟的《人类理解研究》、弗里德里希·尼采的《查拉斯图拉如是说》,仅举几例而已;以任何标准来说,这些都是不可否认的优秀篇章。研究哲学史自有价值,我在这里的目的却是为你提供一些工具,你可以自己用这些工具来思考哲学问题,而不是简单地解释某些大人物对那些问题是怎么想的。这些问题,不仅仅哲学家感兴趣:这些问题是从人类境况中自然就涌现出来的;那些不曾翻过哲学书的人,当然也思考那些问题。

 

Any serious study of philosophy will involve a mixture of historical and topic-based study, since if we don't know about the arguments and errors of earlier philosophers, we cannot hope to make a substantial contribution to the subject. Without some knowledge of history philosophers would never progress: they would keep making the same mistakes, unaware that they had been made before. And many philosophers develop their own theories by seeing what is wrong with the work of earlier philosophers. However, in a short book such as this it is impossible to do justice to the complexities of individual thinkers' work. The further reading suggested at the end of each chapter should help to put the issues discussed here into a broader historical context.

    任何严肃的哲学研究,将涉及到一种把历史研究和论题研究混合起来的东西,因为,如果我们不知道早些时候的哲学家们的论证和错误,我们就没有希望对这个主题做出有分量的贡献。没有一些历史知识,哲学家永远不会进步:他们将一直犯相同的错误,意识不到那些错误以前都犯过了。许多哲学家发展了自己的理论,借助于看到了早期哲学家著作中的错误。然而,在像这么薄薄的一册书里,恰如其分地处理每个哲学家著作的那种复杂性,是不可能的。每一章后面建议的参考书目,应该有助于把这里讨论的问题置于更广的历史背景下。

 

Why study philosophy?

为什么研究哲学?

It is sometimes argued that there is no point in studying philosophy as all philosophers ever do is sit around quibbling over the meaning of words. They never seem to reach any conclusions of any importance and their contribution to society is virtually non-existent. They are still arguing about the same problems that interested the Ancient Greeks. Philosophy does not seem to change anything; philosophy leaves everything as it is.

有人时不时地争辩说:研究哲学没有任何意义,因为哲学家们的所作所为,是围坐在一起,就词的意思吹毛求疵。他们似乎达不成具有任何意义的任何结论,他们对社会的贡献其实是没有。他们仍然在争论古希腊人感兴趣的老问题。哲学似乎不改变任何事情;哲学把一切事情照原样留在了那里。

 

What is the value of studying philosophy at all? Starting to question the fundamental assumptions of our lives could even be dangerous: we might end up feeling unable to do anything, paralysed by questioning too much. Indeed, the caricature of a philosopher is of someone who is brilliant at dealing with very abstract thought in the comfort of an armchair in an Oxford or Cambridge common room, but is hopeless at dealing with the practicalities of life: someone who can explain the most complicated passages of Hegel's philosophy, but can't work out how to boil an egg.

研究哲学毕竟有什么价值?开始质问关于我们的生活的那些基本假定,甚至可能是危险的:到头来我们或许会觉得无能于做任何事,被问得太多搞瘫痪了。确实一位哲学家的漫画,描绘的是这么一个人:在牛津或者剑桥的公关休息室里,舒舒服服地坐在扶手椅里,对付起非常抽象的思想来,头脑特别灵光;但是,处理起生活的那些实际事务,却毫无指望。他解释得了黑格尔哲学的最复杂的章节,但琢磨不透怎么煮鸡蛋。

 

The examined life

经过细究的生活

One important reason for studying philosophy is that it deals with fundamental questions about the meaning of our existence. Most of us at some time in our lives ask ourselves basic philosophical questions. Why are we here? Is there any proof that God exists? Is there any purpose to our lives? What makes anything right or wrong? Could we ever be justified in breaking the law? Could our lives be just a dream? Is mind different from body, or are we simply physical beings? How does science progress? What is art? And so on.

    研究哲学的一个重要理由,是哲学处理关于我们生活的意义的那些基本问题。我们大多数人,在生活中的某些时候,自问一些基本的哲学问题。为什么我们身在此处?有上帝存在的任何证据吗?我们的生活有什么目的吗?是什么使一些事情对或者错?我们可能有道理地违法吗?我们的生活可能是一场梦吗?心不同于身吗?或者说,我们不过是物质的存在?科学是怎么进步的?什么是艺术?如此等等。

 

Most people who study philosophy believe that it is important that each of us examines such questions. Some even argue that an unexamined life is not worth living. To carry on a routine existence without ever examining the principles on which it is based may be like driving a car which has never been serviced. You may be justified in trusting the brakes, the steering, the engine, since they have always worked well enough up until now; but you may be completely unjustified in this trust: the brake pads may be faulty and fail you when you most need them. Similarly the principles on which your life is based may be entirely sound, but until you've examined them, you can't be certain of this.

研究哲学的大多数人相信:我们每个人细究这样的问题,是重要的。有人甚至争辩:一种未经细究的生活,不值得一过。照着老套路混日子,却从不细究这种日子赖以存在的那些原则,或许像开汽车,但从来不检修这辆车。你或许很有理由相信刹车、转向系统、发动机,因为到目前为止,它们工作得足够好;但是,你这种信任,或许完全没有道理:制动块或许有毛病,等你最需要的时候,制动块不听你使唤。与此相似,作为你的生活基础的那些原则,或许完全是说得过去的;但是,在你细究之前,你对此是拿不准的。

 

However, even if you do not seriously doubt the soundness of the assumptions on which your life is based, you may be impoverish­ing your life by not exercising your power of thought. Many people find it either too much of an effort, or too disturbing to ask themselves such fundamental questions: they may be happy and comfortable with their prejudices. But others have a strong desire to find answers to challenging philosophical questions.

    然而,即便你不严肃地质疑你赖以生活的那些假定,你也可能因为不使用你的思想能力,而使你的生活贫乏。许多人发现,问自己这些基本问题,不是太费心神,就是太令人不安:守着他们的那些偏见,他们或许快乐而舒服。但是,另一些人有强烈的愿望,要找到那些很有挑战性的哲学问题的答案。

 

Learning to think

学习思考

 

Another reason for studying philosophy is that it provides a good way of learning to think more clearly about a wide range of issues. The methods of philosophical thought can be useful in a wide variety of situations, since by analysing the arguments for and against any position we leam skills which can be transferred to other areas of life. Many people who study philosophy go on to apply their philo­sophical skills in jobs as diverse as the law, computer programming, management consultancy, the civil service, and journalism - all areas in which clarity of thought is a great asset. Philosophers also use the insights they gain about the nature of human existence when they turn to the arts: a number of philosophers have also been successful as novelists, critics, poets, film-makers and playwrights.

    研究哲学的另一个理由,是哲学提供一种很好的学习方式,学习更清晰地思考范围广泛的问题。哲学思维的一些方法,在各种各样的情况中可能都有用,因为,通过分析对任何立场的肯定论证或者否定论证,我们学到了技巧,这些技巧可以用于生活的其他领域。许多研究哲学的人,进而把他们的哲学技巧运用于五花八门的职业中,如法律、计算机编程、管理顾问、行政事务、新闻——全部的行业,在其中思想的清晰性都是一种了不起的财富。在转向艺术的时候,哲学家也用到他们获得的关于人类存在本质的慧见:很多哲学家也成了成功的小说家、批评家、诗人、电影制作人和戏剧家。

 

Pleasure

乐趣

A further justification for the study of philosophy is that for many people it can be a very pleasurable activity. There is something to be said for this defence of philosophy. Its danger is that it could be taken to be reducing philosophical activity to the equivalent of solving crossword puzzles. At times some philosophers' approach to the subject can seem very like this: some professional philosophers become obsessed with solving obscure logical puzzles as an end in itself, publishing their solutions in esoteric journals. At another extreme, some philosophers working in universities see themselves as part of a 'business', and publish what is often mediocre work simply because it will allow them to 'get on' and achieve promotion (quantity of publications being a factor in determining who is promoted). They experience pleasure from seeing their name in print, and from the increased salary and prestige that go with promotion. Fortunately, however, much philosophy rises above this level.

    研究哲学还有一个理由,是对许多人而言,它可能是一种非常令人愉快的活动。对哲学做的这种辩护,需要说几句话。乐趣的危险,是它可能被理解为把哲学活动,降低到与猜字谜相似的东西。有时候,有些哲学家研究这个课题的方式,看来与此很相似:有些职业哲学家,耽于解决费解的逻辑难题,把这个当成了目的本身,把他们的解决方式发表在晦涩的期刊里。在另一个极端上,在大学里工作的某些哲学家,把自己看作干某种“行当”而已,常常发表的是一些平庸之物,这仅仅是为了“跟得上”,是为了提职称(出版数量是决定谁得到晋升的一个因素)。看到自己的名字印在纸上,他们觉得快乐;与职称连带着增加的工资和名声,也使他们快乐。然而,幸运的是,大部分的哲学高于这个水平。

 

Is philosophy difficult?

哲学难吗?

 

Philosophy is often described as a difficult subject. There are various kinds of difficulty associated with it, some avoidable.

    常有人说哲学是很难的一门课。与哲学相关的难处,有各种各样的;有些是可以避免的。

In the first place it is true that many of the problems with which professional philosophers deal do require quite a high level of abstract thought. However, the same is true of almost any intellectual pursuit: philosophy is no different in this respect from physics, literary criticism, computer programming, geology, mathematics, or history. As with these and other areas of study, the difficulty of making substantial original contributions to the subject should not be used as an excuse for denying ordinary people knowledge of advances made in it, nor for preventing them learning their basic methods.

首先,职业哲学家处理的那些问题当中有一些,确实需要相当高水平的抽象思维,这是真的。然而,几乎任何学术追求,也都是如此:在这个方面,哲学与物理学、文学批评、计算机编程、地质学、数学或者历史并无不同之处。和这个或那个研究领域一样,对学科做出有分量的原创性贡献的难处,不应该用作不为普通人提供其中的知识进步的借口,也不应该成为不允许他们学习其基本方法的借口。

 

However, there is a second kind of difficulty associated with philosophy which can be avoided. Philosophers are not always good writers. Many of them are extremely poor communicators of their ideas. Sometimes this is because they are only interested in reaching a very small audience of specialist readers; sometimes it is because they use unnecessarily complicated jargon which simply confuses those unfamiliar with it. Specialist terms can be helpful to avoid having to explain particular concepts every time they are used. However, among professional philosophers there is an unfortunate tendency to use specialist terms for their own sake; many of them use Latin phrases even though there are perfectly good English equiva­lents. A paragraph peppered with unfamiliar words and familiar words used in unfamiliar ways can be intimidating. Some philo­sophers seem to speak and write in a language they have invented themselves. This can make philosophy appear to be a much more difficult subject than it really is.

    然而,第二个和哲学有关的难处,是可以避免的。哲学家们不总是好写手。他们中有不少人极其拙于把自己的观念传达给别人。有时候,这是因为他们只有兴趣对少数专家讲话;有时候,他们使用没必要那么复杂的行话,这干脆就把那些不熟悉哲学的人搞糊涂了。为了避免每次重复解释他们所使用的一些特别概念,专业术语可能是有帮助的。然而,在职业哲学家中,存在一种不幸的趋向,为使用术语而使用术语;他们有些人使用拉丁语短语,即便有相当好的英语对应词。一段文字,点缀着一些生僻词,或者一些以我们不熟悉的方式使用的常用词,是会吓人的。有些哲学家似乎使用他们为自己发明的一种语言来说话和写作。这会把哲学搞成看起来比它实际情况更难得多的一门课。

 

In this book I have tried to avoid unnecessary jargon and have explained all unfamiliar terms as I go along. This approach should give you the basic philosophical vocabulary needed for understanding some of the more difficult philosophical writing recommended in the reading lists at the end of each chapter.

在这本书里,我竭力避开不必要的行话,在行文的时候,也解释了全部生僻的术语。这种办法应该为你提供基本的哲学词汇,以便于理解每章末尾推荐的那些更难的哲学著作。

 

The limits of what philosophy can do

哲学不能做的事情

Some students of philosophy have unreasonably high expectations of the subject. They expect it to provide them with a complete and detailed picture of the human predicament. They think that philosophy will reveal to them the meaning of life, and explain to them every facet of our complex existences. Now, although studying philosophy can illuminate fundamental questions about our lives, it does not provide anything like a complete picture, if indeed there could be such a thing. Studying philosophy isn't an alternative to studying art, literature, history, psychology, anthropology, sociology, politics, and science. These different subjects concentrate on different aspects of human life and provide different sorts of insight. Some aspects of anyone's life will defy philosophical analysis, and perhaps analysis of any other kind too. It is important, then, not to expect too much of philosophy.

    一些学哲学的学生,对这门课的期望高得没有道理。他们希望哲学为人类的困境,提供一幅事无巨细的完整画面。他们以为哲学将为他们揭示生活的意义,为他们解释我们复杂生活的每一侧面。尽管研究哲学能够阐明与我们的生活有关的一些基本问题,但哲学不提供类似于完整画面的那种东西,即便真的可能存在这种东西。研究哲学代替不了对艺术、文学、历史、心理学、人类学、社会学、政治学和科学的研究。这些不同的学科,专注于人类生活的一些不同的方面,提供不同种类的见识。任何个人生活的某些方面,抵抗哲学分析,或许也抵抗任何别种分析。因此,不要指望哲学太多,是重要的。

 

How to use this book

如何用这本书

I have already stressed that philosophy is an activity. So this book should not be read passively. It would be possible simply to learn the arguments used here by heart, but that alone would not be learning to philosophise, though it would provide a sound knowledge of many of the basic arguments philosophers use. The ideal reader of this book will read it critically, constantly questioning the arguments used, and thinking of counter-arguments. This book is intended to stimulate thought, not to be an alternative to it. If you read it critically you will no doubt find much with which you disagree and in the process you will clarify your own beliefs.

我已经强调过,哲学是一种活动。因此,这本书不应该消极散漫地读。有可能是这样:仅仅是把书里的那些论证背下了,但是,单凭这一点将学不会哲学思考,尽管这也提供了一种关于哲学家所用的许多基本论证的知识。本书的理想读者,是要批判地读它,不断地对书里的论证进行质问,还要想到反论证。这本书意在刺激思想,无意于用它来代替思想。如果你批判地读它,你无疑会发现很多你不同意的东西;在这个过程中,你将澄清你自己的信念。

 

Although I have tried to make all the chapters accessible to someone who has never studied philosophy before, some are more difficult than others. Most people have at least considered the ques­tion of whether or not God exists, and have considered the arguments on either side - consequently the chapter on God should be relatively easy to follow. On the other hand, few non-philosophers will have thought in detail about some of the topics addressed in the chapters on the external world, on the mind, and in the more abstract sections of the chapter on right and wrong. These chapters, particularly the one on the mind, may take longer to read. I recommend that you skim over the chapters to begin with, then go back to specific sections which you find interesting, rather than working slowly through section by section, risking becoming swamped in the detail without having a sense of how the different arguments relate to each other.

尽管我已经努力把每一章都搞得容易,以前不曾研究哲学的人也可以得其门径,但有些章节比另一些难些。大多数人起码考虑过上帝存在不存在这个问题,也考虑过对立方面的论证,因此关于神的这一章应该相对容易些。另一方面,很少非哲学专业的人详细思考过如下这些问题,即关于外在世界、心灵这两章以及关于对于错的那更些更抽象的章节所处理的问题。这若干章,特别是关于心灵的那一章,或许需要更长的时间来读。我建议你开始的时候匆匆浏览一番,再回头去看你觉得有意思的章节,不必按部就班地一节一节地慢慢看,这有陷入细节的危险,看不到不同的论证是互相联系在一起的。

 

There is one obvious topic which this book might have included but doesn't: logic. I have left this out because it is too technical an area to be dealt with satisfactorily in a book of this length and style.

    有一个论题,本书本可以涵盖之,但是没有:逻辑。我把逻辑的一章省掉了,因为逻辑是一个太专业的领域,以这种篇幅和风格写的一本书,显然不能令人满意地处理之。

Students should find this book useful to consolidate what they learn in lectures, and as an aid to essay-writing: I give a summary of the main philosophical approaches to each topic, together with a number of criticisms of them. This can easily be plundered for ideas for essays.

    学术应该发现这本书有助于强化他们在课堂上学的东西,也可以作为论文写作的一个助手:我为每一章写了关于主要的哲学方法的摘要,连同对这些方法的批评。这很容易就被拿来作为论文写作所需要的观念。

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