The Pleasures of Ignorance

来源: 录入者:龚苑 发布时间:2017年03月31日

The Pleasures of Ignorance

无知的快乐

It is impossible to take a walk in the country with an?average?townsman—especially, perhaps, in April or May-without being amazed at the vast continent of his ignorance. It is impossible to take a walk in the country oneself without being amazed at the vast continent of one's own ignorance. Thousands of men and women live and die without knowing the difference between a?beech?and an?elm, between the song of a?thrush?and the song of a?blackbird. Probably in a modern city the man who can?distinguish?between a?thrush's and a?blackbird's song is the?exception. It is not that we have not seen the birds. It is simply that we have not noticed them. We have been surrounded by birds all our lives, yet so feeble is our observation that many of us could not tell whether or not the?chaffinch?sings, or the colour of the cuckoo.

和一个普通的城里人在乡村漫步—特别是,可能在四五月份——你不可能不对他无知的领域之广而感到惊讶。一个人去乡间散步,你不可能不对自己无知的领域之广而感到惊讶。成千上万的男男女女活着然后死去,一辈子也不知道山毛榉和榆树之间有什么区别,不知道画眉和黑鹂的啼鸣有什么不同。现代都市中能辨别画眉和黑鹂叫声的人大概是极其罕见的。并非我们没有见过这两种鸟儿,仅仅是因为我们从不去注意它们。我们一生中都有鸟儿生活在我们周围,然而我们的观察力是如此微弱,以致我们中间许多人弄不清楚苍头燕雀是否全唱歌,说不出布谷鸟是什么颜色。

This ignorance, however, is not altogether miserable. Out of it we get the constant pleasure of discovery. Every fact of nature comes to us each spring, if only we are sufficiently ignorant, with thedew?still on it. If we have lived half a lifetime without having ever even seen a cuckoo, and know it only as a wandering voice, we are all the more delighted at the?spectacle?of its runaway?flight?as it hurries from wood to wood conscious of its?crimes, and at the way in which it?halts hawk-like in the wind, its long tail?quivering, before it dares descend on a hill-side of fir-trees where avenging presences may?lurk.

然而,这种无知并不完全是不幸的。从无知中,我们能源源不断地获取发现带来的喜悦。但愿我们真的一无听知,那么每到春天,各种自然现象就会带着清新的露珠呈现在我们眼前。如果我们已生活半生,甚至未曾见过一只布谷鸟,而仅仅把它当成一个四处飘荡的声音,那么.当我们亲眼目睹它因为自知自己的罪恶在林木间匆匆逃离穿梭,看到它如何如鹰般在风中骤然停止鸣叫,摆动着瑟瑟发抖的长尾翼,不敢在小山旁的冷杉上停歇,担心那里危机四伏时,我们一定会更加欣喜。

It would be?absurd?to pretend that the?naturalist?does not also find pleasure in observing the life of the birds, but his is a steady pleasure, almost a?sober?and?plodding?occupation, compared to the morning enthusiasm of the man who sees a cuckoo for the first time. And, as to that, the happiness even of the?naturalist?depends in some measure upon his ignorance, which still leaves him new worlds of this kind to conquer.He may have reached the very Z of knowledge in the books, but he still feels half ignorant until he has?confirmed each bright?particular?with his eyes.?Assuredly?the men of science have no reason as yet to weep over their lost ignorance. There will always be a fortune of ignorance waiting for them under every fact they turn up.

如果假设博物学家在观察鸟类的生活时发现不到乐趣,那是荒谬可笑的。和清晨有人第一次看到布谷鸟的兴奋相比,博物学家的快乐是稳固的,他们的工作是严肃和漫长的。为此,甚至是博物学家的幸福在某种程度上也取决他的无知,无知给他留下这类新天地让他去征服。他的书本知识可能已经达到了顶峰,但是,在他亲眼证实每一个光辉的细节之前,他仍然感到自己是半无知的,无疑,科学家们迄今没有理由为他们错过的无知而哭泣。在他们发掘出的每一个事实下面总将会有一笔无知的财富在等待着他们。

But your and my ignorance is not confined to cuckoos. It?dabbles in all created things, from the sun and moon down to the names of the flowers, including nearly everything you and I have taken for granted. One of the greatest joys known to man is to take such a?flight?into ignorance in search of knowledge. The great pleasure of ignorance is, after all, the pleasure of asking questions. The man who has lost this pleasure or?exchanged it for the pleasure of?dogma, which is the pleasure of answering, is already beginning to stiffen. Do not forget that Socrates. was famed for wisdom not because he was?omniscient?but because he realised at the age of seventy that he still knew nothing. Once more I shall see the world as a garden through the eyes of a stranger, my breath taken away with surprise by the painted fields.

但是,你我的无知绝不仅仅局限于布谷鸟,它涉及所有的创造物,上到太阳和月亮,下到百花的名称,几乎包括所有你我认为是理所当然的事物。人类感受过的最大快乐之一就是迅速逃到无知中去追求知识。无知的巨大乐趣,归根结底,是提问的乐趣。已经失去了这种快乐的人,或已经用这种快乐去换取教条的乐趣(即回答问题的乐趣)的人,已经开始僵化。不要忘记苏格拉底之所以以智慧闻名于世,并不是因为他无所不知而是因为他在70岁的时候认识到他还什么都不知道.而我将再一次用陌生人的眼光来审视这个花园一样的世界,每当我看到那如画的田野,我都将惊叹不已。

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课堂笔记:
1.此句是一个双重否定句,表示肯定并强调。“It is + adj. + to do sth.”是极为常见的英语句式,其中“it”作形式主语,不定式为真正的主语“continent”表示“大陆,陆地”之意,"the vase continent of his ignorance”使用了暗喻的修辞手法,把无形的"ignorance"(无知)比喻为有形的陆地,说明无知的程度。
2.英语句式“It is not that...It is that.../It is not that ...but that...”意思为“这不是说……而是说...”
3.此句表语前置,表示强调,正常语序应为“our observation is so feeble ..."。
4."if only"用于表示希望境遇有所变化,意思是“但愿,真希望”。
5.此句的句子主干为“we are delighted at the?spectacle...and at the way..."。句中连词"as”引导时间状语从句,表“当……时候”。关系代词“which”引导定语从句修饰“way”,定语从句中连词“before”引导时间状语从句,其中“where”引导定语从句修饰“fir-trees"。
6.此句中的“it"为形式主语,不定式“to pretend that..”为真正的主语。
7.情态动词“may+have done”表示对过去的猜测。许多英语书籍都按照字母顺序进行编排,所以如果某人的知识已经达到了书籍中“z"字母的位置,即指此人知识非常渊博,学识达到了顶峰
8.此句为省略“that'’的定语从句,常用搭配“take sth. for granted”表示“把某事想当然”.
9.苏格拉底(Socrates,公元前469一公元前399),着名的古希腊思想家、哲学家、教育家,他和他的学生柏拉图,以及柏拉图的学生亚里士多德被并称为"古希腊三贤”,更被后人广泛认为是西方哲学的莫基者.

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