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为什么人们要说善意的谎言 – 译学馆
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为什么人们要说善意的谎言

Can Lying ever be Kind?

真正善良的人总是喜欢
Truly good people are always ready and even,
有时甚至热衷于说谎
at times, highly enthusiastic about telling lies.
这听起来很奇怪
This sounds odd only
因为我们向来被教导
because we are in the grip of a heroic
不论如何都要勇敢地说真话
but indiscriminate and delusional addiction to truth-telling.
这种情况在很大程度上可归咎于
A lot of it can be blamed on George Washington,
美国第一任总统乔治·华盛顿
first president of the United States.
据说在华盛顿六岁时
Legend recounts how, at the age of six,
有人送了他一柄小斧头
he was given a little axe as a present.
他高兴坏了
He was so excited with the gift
拿着小斧头把花园里的一棵樱桃树给砍了
that he went straight into the garden and hacked down a beautiful cherry tree.
他的父亲看到倒下的樱桃树非常生气
His father was furious when he discovered the chopped tree,
质问华盛顿是不是他做的
and asked George if he was responsible.
华盛顿回答说:“父亲 我不能骗您 的确是我砍的”
The boy was said to have replied: ‘Father, I cannot tell a lie. It was I.’
这个故事的真实性我们不得而知
The story is probably apocryphal,
但它之所以流传是因其宣扬了一种
but it has stuck because it encapsulates an ideal
大众极力推崇的美德
to which we are intensely collectively committed:
即不计自身后果地忠于事实
a devotion to the truth in spite of the cost it exacts on oneself.
在这个观点里 撒谎者是可耻的
In this scenario, the liar is odious
他们逃避光辉伟大的真相
because they seek to evade a necessary and important truth
仅仅是为了微不足道的个人得失
for the sake of low personal gain.
但善良的人不会为了自己而扯谎
But good people do not lie for their own benefit.
他们并不是在维护自己的利益
They aren’t protecting themselves,
也不是在用谎言扭曲事实
and they aren’t disloyal to the facts out of mendacity:
他们撒谎是出于(乍听起来有些矛盾)
they tell lies because (paradoxical as it sounds at first)
对真相的热爱
they love the truth intensely
出于对被欺骗的对象的善意
and out of good-will for the person they are deceiving.
某些情况下我们很乐意说一些谎言
We’re ready enough to admit to a role for lies in certain situations.
假设你正在拜访你的一位老姑母
You might be visiting an elderly aunt who
这位姑母最引以为豪的是她做的香草糖衣胡萝卜蛋糕
prides herself on her talent for carrot cakes with vanilla icing.
可是她的手艺已不复往昔
But her heyday is long gone.
她记不得食谱
Now she muddles up the recipe
也记不得冰箱里的黄油放了多久
and sometimes forgets how long the butter has been in the fridge.
她的蛋糕味道很糟糕
The result is pretty off-putting.
然而于她而言她最在乎的是
But it’s deeply important for her to feel
自己是否还有能力给别人带去快乐
that she’s still able to please others.
这也正是你撒谎的原因
That’s why you lie.
不是为了保护自己
The lie isn’t produced to protect oneself.
而是为了维护一个更重要的真相
It is told out of loyalty to a bigger truth,
也就是你对姑母的爱
that one loves the aunt,
而直言不讳可能会破坏这份爱
that would be threatened by full disclosure.
很多时候
As is so often the case,
伟大的真相需要通过卑微的谎言才能传达给他人
a great truth has to pass into the mind of another person via a smaller falsehood.
谎言之所以有必要存在
What makes falsehoods so necessary
是因为人们常常做悲观的联想
is our proclivity for making unfortunate associations.
理论上
It is, in theory,
我们可以深爱着某一个人
of course entirely possible to love someone deeply
同时也承认他的厨艺糟糕至极
and at the same time believe they are terrible at baking.
但在许多人看来
But in our own minds,
你不认可我做的蛋糕等同于
the rejection of our cakes tends to feel synonymous
你不认可我
with the rejection of our being.
我们正是用这种简单粗暴的思路
We’re forcing any half decent person to lie to us
才使得一个不那么诚实的人对我们说谎
by the obtuseness of our thought-processes.
因为这位姑妈的错误的认知
It is because the aunt is in the grip of a falsehood
(“你不喜欢我的蛋糕就是不喜欢我”)
(‘if you don’t like my cake, you can’t like me’)
我们不得不对她说一句假话
that we will have to offer her a dose of untruth
(“我喜欢你的蛋糕”)
(‘I like your cake’)
才能保证一个重要的真相(“我们爱你”)不被质疑
by which we can make sure that a big truth (‘I like you’) remains safe.
这个原理可以适用于一些更复杂的情况
The same principle applies in more tricky situations.
假设一个女人出差去开会
Suppose a woman goes away to a conference.
一次酒吧里愉快的交谈过后
One night, after a lovely conversation in the bar,
她一时忘情 和国外的同事爬上了一张床
she gets carried away and slips into bed with an international colleague.
他们没有发生关系 但也做了一些亲密的事
They don’t make love but have a sweet time.
互相亲吻 交缠双腿
They rub their lips together and entwine their legs.
两人此后基本上没有再见面的可能
They will almost certainly never see one another again,
也不打算发展长期关系 整件事只是个小插曲
it wasn’t an attempt to start a long-term relationship and it meant very little.
当这个女人回到家 丈夫问她那天晚上是怎么过的
When the woman gets home, her partner asks how her evening was.
她回答说那天她躲在房间里看新闻 吃总汇三明治
She says she watched CNN and ordered a club sandwich in her room on her own.
她之所以撒谎是因为她太了解自己的丈夫了
She lies because she knows her partner well
她能想象到他听到实情会是什么反应
and can predict how he would respond to the truth.
他会伤透了心
He would be wounded to the core,
觉得妻子不爱他了
would be convinced that his wife didn’t love him
还可能认为这个婚姻已经走到了尽头
and would probably conclude that divorce was the only option.
但他的这个认知是错误的
But this assessment of the truth would not be true.
实际上 你很有可能在爱着一个人的同时
In reality, it is of course eminently possible to love someone deeply
也时不时地跟别人发生点关系
and every so often go to bed with another person.
然而 社会普遍认定的观点是
And yet, kind people understand the entrenched
一个不忠的伴侣绝对是残忍无情的
and socially-endorsed associations between infidelity and callousness.
对我们大多数人而言
For almost all of us,
“我跟新加坡来的同事过了一夜”这句话
the news ‘I spent a night with a colleague from the Singapore office’
(事实)
(which is true)
意味着“我不再爱你了”(非事实)
has to end up meaning ‘I don’t love you anymore’ (which is not true at all).
因此我们只能说“我并没有和谁过夜”
And so we have to say ‘I didn’t sleep with anyone’
(非事实)
(which is untrue)
以此维护一个更重要的讯息:
in the name of securing the greater idea:
“我其实很爱你”(不折不扣的事实)
‘I still love you’ (which is overwhelmingly true).
不论一个善良的人有多热爱真实
However much they love the truth,
他都有一个更大的责任
good people have an even greater commitment to something else:
那就是对他人仁慈
being kind towards others.
他们清楚(也考虑过)
They grasp (and make allowances for)
真相能多么轻而易举地让他人
the ease with which a truth can produce
给我们定下不可挽回的罪
desperately unhelpful convictions in the minds of others
因此他们不会巨细靡遗地交待事实
and they are therefore not proudly over-committed to accuracy at every turn.
他们认为最重要的
Their loyalty is reserved for something they take to be
不是阐述事实
far more important than literal narration:
而是照顾听者的心理感受
the sanity and well-being of their audiences.
他们明白 告知事实
Telling the truth, they understand,
不是一字一句地和盘托出
isn’t a matter of the sentence by sentence veracity of one’s words,
而是要确保
it’s a matter of ensuring that,
你在阐述完之后
after one has spoken,
对方对真相有一个正确的了解
the other person will be left with a true picture of reality.
正是出于这种对听者情感的顾虑
This concern for the well-being of others
所以善良的人只在
explains why kind people only ever lie
几乎不可能被拆穿的情况下才会撒谎
when there is little chance of their untruths being detected.
他们知道一个被揭破的谎言
They know that a lie which gets unearthed
会让你百口莫辩
will cause proper and unjustifiable trouble,
还会让对方得出完全错误的结论:
leading the other person to a second and even more radically false conclusion:
“你不爱我了” (第一个谬误)
not only that ‘you don’t love me’ (first untruth)
“你不爱我了所以你才会骗我”
but also that ‘you lied to me because you don’t love me’
(更离谱的第二个谬误)
(a second, even greater untruth).
当别人解释说谎理由的时候我们也许会很不屑
It can feel condescending to hear the logic of the good liar spelled out.
那是因为我们不肯承认自己的脆弱
But that’s only because we don’t like to acknowledge the fragility of our own minds.
以为不论多残酷的事实
We may believe we’re heroically ready to embrace the truth,
自己都能义无反顾地接受
however painful.
而他人则应当毫无保留地告知真相
We may insist that others should tell us everything, whatever they do.
但其实我们高估了
But we thereby discount
自己在情感上的接受能力
our own powerful tendencies to emotional indigestion.
正应如此 我们都应该偶尔撒几个谎
It’s why we should not only occasionally tell untruths,
还要期待别人时不时地骗骗自己
but actively hope that, from time to time, others will lie to us
并且暗暗祈祷自己永远不要发现真相
and quietly hope that we will never find out that they have.

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视频概述

有时谎言不只是欺骗,也是对他人的仁慈,对美好生活的粉饰,对“我爱你”这个真相的维护。

听录译者

收集自网络

翻译译者

尤机灵

审核员

萨默之光

视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1E0xsiYMr0

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