一直以来 我们都高度赞扬民主 甚至认为 在古雅典时期
We are used to thinking very highly of democracy – and by extension, of Ancient Athens,
the civilisation that gave rise to it. The Parthenon has become almost a byword for democratic values
which is why so many leaders of democracies like to be photographed there.
It’s therefore very striking to discover that one of Ancient Greece’s great achievements,
Philosophy, was highly suspicious of its other achievement, Democracy.
The founding father of Greek Philosophy – Socrates – is portrayed, in the dialogues of Plato, as hugely pessimistic
他对于整个民主思想的悲观主义 在共和国第六书中 柏拉图讲到
about the whole business of democracy. In Book Six of The Republic, Plato describes
Socrates falling into conversation with a character called Adeimantus and trying to
get him to see the flaws of democracy by comparing a society to a ship. If you were heading out
on a journey by sea, asks Socrates, who would you ideally want deciding who was in charge
of the vessel? Just anyone or people educated in the rules and demands of seafaring? The
latter of course, says Adeimantus, so why then, responds Socrates, do we keep thinking
that any old person should be fit to judge who should be a ruler of a country? Socrates’s
苏格拉底认为选举是一项技能 不是随意的直觉 就像其他任何技能一样
point is that voting in an election is a skill, not a random intuition. And like any skill,
it needs to be taught systematically to people. Letting the citizenry vote without an education
is as irresponsible as putting them in charge of a trireme sailing to Samos in a storm.
Socrates was to have first hand, catastrophic experience of the foolishness of voters. In
在公元前399年 因为被指控腐坏雅典年轻人的思想 苏格拉底被对簿公堂请来
399 BC, the philosopher was put on trial on trumped up charges of corrupting the youth
of Athens. A jury of 500 Athenians was invited to weigh up the case and decided by a narrow
定谳苏格拉底有罪 他被判定用毒芹处以死刑 在那个漫长的过程中
margin that the philosopher was guilty. He was put to death by hemlock in a process which
is, for thinking people, every bit as tragic as Jesus’s condemnation has been for Christians.
至关重要的是 苏格拉底不是正常意义上的精英 他不认为
Crucially, Socrates was not elitist in the normal sense. He didn’t believe that a narrow
few should only ever vote. He did, however, insist that only those who had thought about
issues rationally and deeply should be let near a vote. We have forgotten this distinction
between an intellectual democracy and a democracy by birthright. We have given the vote to all
without connecting it to wisdom. And Socrates knew exactly where that would lead:
to a system the Greeks feared above all, demagoguery.
Ancient Athens had painful experience of demagogues, for example, the louche figure of Alcibiades,
a rich, charismatic, smooth-talking wealthy man who eroded basic freedoms and helped to
push Athens to its disastrous military adventures in Sicily. Socrates knew how easily people
seeking election could exploit our desire for easy answers. He asked us to imagine an
发生在两个候选人之间的选举 一个是像医生那样的人 一个是
election debate between two candidates, one who was like a doctor and the other who was
像糖果商人那样的人 糖果商人可能会这样说他的对手 你们看这个人
like a sweet shop owner. The sweet shop owner would say of his rival: Look, this person
他在你们身上做了太多坏事 他弄疼你们 给你们很苦的药 让你们
here has worked many evils on you. He hurts you, gives you bitter potions and tells you
not to eat and drink whatever you like. He’ll never serve you feasts of many and varied
设宴款待你们 苏格拉底让我们思考观众们的反应 说 你们
pleasant things like I will. Socrates asks us to consider the audience response: Do you
think the doctor would be able to reply effectively? The true answer – ‘I cause you trouble,
and go against you desires in order to help you’ would cause an uproar among the voters,
don’t you think? We have forgotten all about Socrates’s salient warnings against democracy.
We have preferred to think of democracy as an unambiguous good – rather than as something
that is only ever as effective as the education system that surrounds it. As a result, we
选举出了非常多的糖果商人 而医生 只有极少数
have elected many sweet shop owners, and very few doctors.
一直以来 我们都高度赞扬民主 甚至认为 在古雅典时期