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笛卡尔

PHILOSOPHY - René Descartes

哲学
勒内·笛卡尔
René Descartes was a French 17th century philosopher,
勒内·笛卡尔是法国17世纪哲学家
famous above all for saying ‘I think therefore I am’,
因名言“我思故我在”广为人知
but worthy of our attention for many reasons beyond this.
但除此之外他还有更值得我们关注的地方
What makes him stand out is
让他从众多杰出学者中脱颖而出的
that he was a fierce rationalist.
是他激进的理性主义观点
In an age when many philosophers still backed up their arguments with appeals to God,
在很多哲学家依然以神作为他们论断的支撑点的年代
Descartes trusted in nothing more than the human power of logic.
笛卡尔却只相信人类逻辑的力量
This is how he defiantly kicked off his book ‘Rules for the Direction of the Mind’:
他在著作《指导心灵的规则》中大胆批判道:
‘I shall bring to light the true riches of our souls
“我要点亮人们的灵魂
opening up to each of us the means whereby we can find
将灵魂的宝藏向每个人敞开
within ourselves, without any help from anyone else,
生活中所需的一切知识都能从自身找到
all the knowledge that we may need for the conduct of life.’
不需要借助外力”
Descartes had immense faith in what introspection guided by
笛卡尔对由阐释 激辩 深思引发的内省
definition, sound argument, and clarity of thought could achieve.
所能达到的效果抱有极大的信心
He believed that much of what was wrong with the world
他相信世界上很多的问题
was caused by misusing our minds by confusion,
都源于困惑 误解和无意识逻辑矛盾
bad definition, and unconscious illogicality.
造成的思维误用
His life was an attempt to make our minds better equipped for the task of thinking.
他的一生都在为让头脑更好地运转而努力
To solve key questions, Descartes proposed that
为了解决其中的关键问题 笛卡尔提出
one always had to divide large problems into small,
人们总是需要通过尖锐的设问
understandable sections by way of incisive questions.
把大问题分解成小的 容易理解的部分
This is what he called his ‘method of doubts’.
这就是他说的“怀疑法”
We get muddled by certain questions
我们会对一些问题感到迷惑
like ‘what’s the meaning of life’, or ‘what is love?’,
比如“人生的意义是什么?什么是爱?”
because we’re not careful enough about how we break these big inquiries down.
就是因为我们没有认真地把这些大问题拆开来看
He described the method of doubts as akin to having a large barrel of apples
他把怀疑法解释成一桶苹果
where good ones are mixed with bad ones.
其中鱼龙混杂
To be a philosopher means a commitment to sorting out the entire barrel to inspecting each apple
哲学家的任务就是逐个检查整桶苹果
Individually and throwing away all the bad ones to ensure only those of the best quality are left.
把坏苹果都扔掉 确保剩下的都是最好的
Another way to think about Descartes,
评价笛卡尔的另一个角度还解释了
and this explains why he would among other things,
为何是他 而非其他人
turn out to be such a hero to the leaders of the French revolution,
成为了法国革命领袖心中的英雄
is that he believed in grounding all of our ideas
笛卡尔相信 我们所有的想法
in individual experience and reason,
都是基于个人经历和理性思维
rather than authority and tradition.
而不是权威和传统
In his greatest book ‘Discourse on the Method’ published in 1637,
他在出版于1637年的巨著《方法论》中
he explained how he had come to write it:
解释了为什么要写这本书:
‘A long time ago, I entirely abandoned the study of letters
“很久以前 我彻底放弃了对文字的研究
resolving to seek no knowledge,
决定不再探求书本知识
other than that which could be found in myself or else in the great book of the world,
而是去探索自身和世界这本伟大的书
I spent my youth traveling visiting courts and armies,
我年轻时在旅途中见识过审判庭和军队
mixing with people of diverse temperaments and ranks
与不同脾性不同阶级的人交往
gathering various experiences,
获得了丰富的阅历
testing myself in situations which fortune afforded me,
经受了命运的考验
and at all times reflecting personally upon whatever came my way
始终在透过自身遭遇进行自我反省
so as to derive some profit from it.’
以便从中受益”
Descartes spent a large part of his adult life
笛卡尔成年后的大部分时间
away from his native France in the Dutch Republic,
远离故土法国 在荷兰共和国度过
since he held the belief, not entirely unwisely,
因为他持有这种并非全然不明智的观念 即
that the mercantile Dutch would, as a people,
荷兰人这样醉心于赚钱的民族
be far too concerned with earning money to pester a free-thinking man like himself.
不会纠缠像他这样自由思考的人
However it turned out that the Dutch were a little less materialistic than he’d hoped,
但事实上荷兰人并不如他所想的那样金钱至上
and the philosopher ended up moving 24 times to keep ahead of spies and government agents.
为了躲避间谍和政府特工 他搬了24次家
Descartes’ subjective approach to philosophy reached its climax
当笛卡尔得出这句名言时
when he arrived at the famous phrase
就达到了他对哲学主观探求的巅峰
‘Cogito ergo sum’
‘Cogito ergo sum’
—’I think therefore I am’.
即“我思故我在”
The phrase first appeared in French—’Je pense donc je suis’—in the Discourse on the Method
这句话最开始以法语的形式出现在《方法论》中
before then appearing in Latin in the Principles of Philosophy of 1644.
后来以拉丁文出现在1644年出版的《哲学原则》中
It was intended to be Descartes’ ultimate answer to a question
这是笛卡尔就下面这个问题给出的最终答案
that philosophers sometimes get perhaps unreasonably interested in, namely
哲学家们有时会莫名地对以下问题感兴趣
‘How can one know that anything including oneself,
“一个人怎么知道包括自己在内的世间万物
actually exists rather than being some sort of dream or phantasm?’
确实存在而不仅仅是某种梦境或幻觉?”
On his quest of certainty around this question of whether it might all be a dream
为了寻找是否一切都是梦这个问题的确切答案
Descartes began by observing that our human senses are deeply unreliable.
笛卡尔由发现人类感觉的极度不可靠开始
He couldn’t, for example, he said, be trusted to know
他举例说他不能确定
whether he was actually sitting in a room in his dressing gown next to a fire,
自己是真的穿着睡袍坐在房间的炉火旁
or merely dreaming of such a thing.
还是只是梦到了这些
But there was one thing he could know for sure:
但有一件事他能确定:
he could trust that he was actually thinking.
他能确信自己正在思考
His existence could be proved by a neat tautological trick.
他的存在可以由一个简洁的循环论证证明
He could not be thinking and wondering if he existed if he did not exist,
如果不存在就不能思考不能质疑自己是否存在
therefore his thinking was a very basic proof of his being
因此他的思考就是他的存在最基本的证明
or to return to the maxim ‘I think therefore I am’.
或者回到那句名言“我思故我在”
This might not sound like a huge insight,
这听起来可能不像一个深刻的洞见
but Descartes used it as an Archimedean point
但笛卡尔把它当做这个认知不稳定的世界中的
in an epistemologically unsteady world.
一个阿基米德支点
With this certainty safely banked, Descartes argued
笛卡尔提出 以此作为支撑
that his mind could go to discover other similarly irrefutable truths.
他的思想就能发现其他类似的无可辩驳的事实
Some of the charm of Descartes’ work comes through his entwining of personal details,
笛卡尔作品的魅力部分源于他一丝不苟的态度
along with more arid philosophical passages.
以及对枯燥的哲学文章的求索
He tells us, for example,
例如 他告诉我们
that his revolutionary idea came to him during the winter of 1619,
他革命性的想法诞生于1619年的冬天
when he’d escaped the fierce cold of the low countries
当时 为了躲避低地国家的严寒
by hopping into a stove and spending the whole day meditating inside.
他跳进火炉 在里面冥想了一整天
Descartes epitomizes the solitary end of philosophy.
笛卡尔是孤独的哲学终结的缩影
One can, in his eyes, solve the most profound problems by
在他看来 一个人可以通过深入的自省
searching deep within oneself.
来解决最深刻的问题
Teams of individuals, or ideas passed through the generations as they are in universities
笛卡尔对由个人组成的团队
are deeply suspect for Descartes.
或在大学里代代相传的思想深表怀疑
Philosophers don’t need gangs of scientists using expensive equipment,
哲学家不需要科学家们使用的昂贵设备
unheard-of terminology and huge datasets.
闻所未闻的术语和庞大的数据集
They just need a quiet room and a rational mind.
他们只需要安静的空间和理智的头脑
At another point, Descartes recounts that he mocked friends of his
笛卡尔还回忆起 他曾嘲笑过他的朋友们
who once showed up at his home at 11 in the morning
他们曾在上午11点时进到他的房间
and was surprised to find him still in bed.
却惊讶地发现他还躺在床上
‘What are you doing?’ they inquired skeptically.
“你干啥呢?” 他们疑惑地问道
‘Thinking,’ Descartes replied.
“思考”笛卡尔回答
The group was stunned, but Descartes criticized them in turn
朋友们很吃惊 但笛卡尔却批评他们
for privileging often nonsensical practical tasks
总是让无意义的世俗活动
over the beauty of pure quiet reflection in bed.
优先于床上沉静纯粹的反思之美
In 1649, Descartes finished another great work:
1649年 笛卡尔完成了另一部著作
‘Passions of the Soul’.
《灵魂的激情》
It was the outcome of six years of correspondence with a royal acquaintance,
这是与一位皇室好友通信六年的成果
the Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia,
这位波西米亚的伊丽莎白公主
who was a keen amateur philosopher,
是个敏锐的业余哲学家
and a rather emotional and turbulent soul.
有着善感而动荡的灵魂
She had written to Descartes begging him to write about passions
她写信给笛卡尔请求他写些有关情感的文章
in order that she might get to know and control her own more clearly.
以便更清楚地自我了解和自我控制
Descartes obliged.
笛卡尔同意了
Thinking that the ancient philosophers had done a poor job of analyzing the passions
他认为过去的哲学家没有认真研究过情感
and that ordinary and not-so-ordinary people
并且认为常人和不那么普通的人
would benefit immensely from another look at the topic,
都能从新的解读中获益匪浅
he therefore opened the Passions of the Soul with a characteristic claim:
因此他以一个特别声明作为《灵魂的激情》的开篇:
‘I shall be obliged to write just
“我不得不这样写
as if I were considering a topic that no one had dealt with before me.’
就像在考虑一个之前从未讨论过的问题”
The word provides a beautiful taxonomy
这个词为一个人可能会有的
of pretty much any passion one might feel,
几乎所有情感做了很好的分类
as well as descriptions of their causes, effects, and functions.
还对其原因 效果和功能做了描述
This is followed by another section called ‘The Discipline of Virtue’,
接下来他又写了《美德的训练》
a manual of advice on how we can control our passions
这是一本关于如何控制情感
and enjoy a virtuous life.
享受美德生活的手册
Descartes identified six fundamental passions:
笛卡尔提出了六种基本的情感:
wonder, love, hatred, desire, joy, and sadness.
好奇 爱 恨 欲望 快乐 悲伤
From these they’re followed in his eyes an unlimited number of specific passions; combinations of the original ones.
在他看来 无数具体的情感都是由这些结合而成的
Descartes didn’t believe in vanquishing passions as the ancient stoic philosophers had proposed,
笛卡尔并不相信古代斯多葛派哲学家提出的战胜感情
merely in learning how to identify them in oneself
他只是学习如何区分自身情感
and understand their impact on one’s behavior.
并理解其对行为的影响
He would have been very sympathetic to psychotherapy.
他一定非常认同心理疗法
He believed that a key task of being a philosopher was
他相信作为哲学家的一个关键任务
to help people understand and therefore control their passions;
是帮助人们理解和控制自己的感情
that is, become a little less anxious, status-driven, scared,
也就是做到 云淡风轻 淡泊名利 临危不惧
or inclined to fall head over heels in love with inappropriate people.
或避免神魂颠倒地爱上不合适的人
He was optimistic about how much progress we could make psychologically.
他相信我们在精神上所能企及的高度
Even those who have the weakest souls
只要努力训练和引导自己的情感
can acquire absolute mastery over their passions
即使是灵魂脆弱的人
if they work hard enough at training and guiding them.
也能实现对自身情感的完全掌控
Descartes’ psychological and philosophical work attracted ever more powerful admirers.
笛卡尔的心理学和哲学著作吸引了更有权势的崇拜者
In 1646, Queen Christina of Sweden
1646年 瑞典女王克里斯蒂娜
got interested in sorting out issues in her mind
对解决她的思想问题产生了兴趣
and began a correspondence with Descartes.
于是开始与笛卡尔通信
She even persuaded the philosopher to move to Sweden
1649年 她甚至说服笛卡尔搬到瑞典
to tutor her in passion and philosophy in 1649.
以便在情感和哲学方面指导她
However, the early working hour was required.
但需要为此把工作时间提前
the queen could only make time for lessons at 5:00 a.m.,
女王只能在早上5点抽出时间来上课
and the harsh cold soon made Descartes ill.
严寒很快使笛卡尔病倒了
He died of pneumonia in 1650 at the age of 53.
他于1650年死于肺炎 享年53岁
To remember Descartes by ‘I think therefore I am’
通过“我思故我在”记住笛卡尔
is perhaps not as shallow as one might initially have presumed.
或许不像人们一开始想象的那样肤浅
The sentence does truly capture something important about him and the task of philosophy in general.
这句话确实抓住了笛卡尔思想及哲学思维的关键
It signals a commitment to working through emotional confusion, prejudice, and unhelpful tradition,
它代表着一种致力于解决困惑 偏见 无用传统的承诺
in order to arrive at an independent rationally founded vision of existence.
以达到一个独立的 基于理性的存在的构想

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勒内·笛卡尔,法国17世纪哲学家,我思故我在

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