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历史有什么用? – 译学馆
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历史有什么用?

What is History for?

如果你不幸在学校里做了太多历史作业,你可能只记得
If you had the misfortune to do too much of it at school, you’ll probably remember one
一件有关于历史的事情:就是历史到底能有多无聊
thing about history: just how boring it can be.
你也许不愿想起有关这场百年战争的事情
You might harbour painful memories of the 100 Years War, the War of Spanish
西班牙王位继承战争 中世纪的轮作
Succession, Crop Rotation in the Middle Ages or – heaven forbid – the good
南丁格尔的伟大事迹
deeds of Florence Nightingale.
结果,若是现在的你能说出整个事情的来龙去脉,也就不令人惊讶了
As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising if – nowadays – you tended to steer well clear of the whole topic.
但是很遗憾 历史如此无聊的真正原因是
But that would be a pity. The real reason why history is so boring is that we’re not
我们并不清楚它应该是什么样的
clear about what it should be for.
这是历史为什么重要的主要原因
Here’s the big reason why history matters: it matters because it can provide us with
它能为我们当前面临的很多问题提供解决方法
solutions to many of the problems of the present.
最棒的是,历史能让我们了解一些我们需要了解的
At its best, history is there to introduce us to some of the things we need but that
但在当前看上去并不很重要的事情
aren’t sufficiently visible in the world today.
在当今的社会中,我们过于关注我们现在所处的环境
As a society, we’re very obsessed by what we’re up to right now.
殊不知,我们对现在又存在着极大的偏见
Unknowingly, we’re hugely biased towards the present. The news – which is about the
我们所看到的有关强权等的新闻,总是围绕着
most prestigious force in the world today – circles obsessively around some of the things
过去五分钟所发生的事情
that have happened in the last five minutes
然而,很多我们需要用来丰富自己、支撑自己和鼓励自己的重要的事情
and yet, many of the most important things that we need to nourish, sustain and inspire us
看起来却是有一点过时了
are a lot older.
如今我们需要的最重要的东西是创新的想法
What we nowadays need above all else are GOOD IDEAS
而历史正充满着这些方案 想象你对
and history is full of them. Imagine you’re dissatisfied with aspects
当代资本主义不满
of contemporary Capitalism. It might help hugely to read
读一些关于平等主义者的历史或许会帮助很大,他们是英国的一群激进分子,活跃于
about the HISTORY of the Levellers, a group of English radicals writing and acting between
1645年到1650年 或者如果你想问旅行的意义是
1645 and 1650. Or if you question what the point of going
什么 通过了解朝圣者们的历史 你或许会大大地提升你的思维
on holiday is, you might dramatically enrich your thoughts by considering the HISTORY of
尤其是了解这些为了瞻仰遥远圣地
pilgrimage, especially the motives which people had for trekking off
而长途跋涉的人们
to visit distant shrines.
历史让我们了解世界是可以改变的
History teaches us that THINGS CAN CHANGE.
人们不可能永远停留在目前的状况:信奉唯物主义和工作狂
People haven’t always been as they are now: materialistic and work obsessed.
无法建造精妙的建筑,过度关注自己是否能被联系到
unable to build nice architecture, over-concered with being “connected”
或者是沉迷于让自己变得瘦骨伶仃
or hung up on being absurdly thin
一条恼人的谚语这么说道:那些不了解历史的人注定只能重复历史
There’s an annoying saying that goes: THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.
然而应该这样说 历史本来就充满着错误
But that’s suggesting the only thing history is full of is mistakes.
所以确切地说,那些不了解历史的人
Yet it’s as fair to say, those who don’t know history
是无法改善目前的状况的
won’t be able to IMPROVE the present.
历史还能够教给我们什么是勇气 这很容易感觉到 当你
History can also teach us COURAGE. It’s easy to feel, when you’re pressed up against
被现实所压迫时 这些事情好像是前所未有的糟糕
the present, that things are exceptionally awful right now
但是当你把眼光放的更长远时,其实他们并不算什么
but they rarely are, once you open the lens wide enough.
你现在所面临的状况并不是超常的平庸,也没有像你想象的那样充满妥协
The present isn’t unusual in its levels of mediocrity and compromise. Once you read the
当你看到这些文字时,那些历史上的老家伙的状况也并不好 所以尽管我们面临的挑战
letters, the old guys were just as bad. And though our challenges
非常困难 但是与
are of course great, they aren’t exceptional – when compared with say, those facing the
那些罗马之劫或是里斯本大地震的幸存者相比 我们所面临的其实并不算什么
survivors of the sack of Rome or the Lisbon earthquake.
历史最终其实教会了我们感恩那些我们拥有的 却容易被我们忽略的东西
History ends up as a tool for the APPRECIATION of some of our advantages which is easy to miss.
它教会我们将我们所处的社会与其他社会相比较 而不是
It can teach us to judge our society against other societies rather than against
与我们心中的理想相比较 当然 欧盟有它自己的问题 但哈布斯堡帝国也同样
our ideals. Of course the European Union has problems, but the Habsburg Empire
有这些问题 还更严重 我们的政府很不完美 但世界上依旧有更差的政府存在
had them too and many more. Our governments are deeply imperfect, but there have been worse.
我们的交通状况很差 但比列宁格勒统治下的状况好多了
Traffic is terrible, but so was the siege of Leningrad.
历史能安慰我们
History can console.
更加清晰地了解历史是为了什么 就应该改变它所教给我们的主题
Getting clearer about what history is for should change how the subject is taught. In
未来 我们应该更多地将历史看成一个医生 而不是一个装药品的柜子
the future, we should treat history a little like a doctor treats a medicine cabinet.
在跳进历史的海洋之前 我们应该先明确我们当前出了什么错
Before diving into history, we’d first have to work out what was wrong with us, what we
我们现在正缺乏什么 我们可能会被诊断为缺乏勇气 缺少一个被我们宠坏的自然
were lacking in the here and now. We be might diagnosed for a lack of courage, or a spoilt
和对是否要结婚的一点犹豫 因此历史应该给我们开一张药方
nature or a hesitation about whether to marry. And we should be prescribed history accordingly
历史学家要做好他们的工作 应该对当前他们要解决的问题更加明晰
For their part, historians themselves should get clearer about what problems in the present
他们应该针对性地告诉我们那些
they’re trying to solve. They should explicitly aim to tell us things about the past that
能帮助我们解决当前问题的历史 不是为了过去 而是为了我们的现在和未来而研究过去的历史
can help us with issues of today. Not the past for its sake, but the past for our sakes.
好的历史应该意味着它能给现在提供解决方案和安慰
Good history should always mean: history with solutions or consolations for today.
现在历史开始变得有趣了…
Now that could be interesting…

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