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  • We generally think that philosophers should be proud of their big brains, and be fans of thinking

    我們通常認為哲學家應該非常自豪於自己的聰明, 而且熱愛反思和理性分析

  • self-reflection and rational analysis. But there's one philosopher, born in France in 1533, who had a refreshingly different take.

    但有一位哲學家,1533年生於法國, 對此有令人耳目一新的不同看法。

  • Michel de Montaigne was an intellectual who spent his writing life

    米歇爾·德·蒙田,作為知識分子, 他一生的寫作都在揶揄知識分子的傲慢

  • knocking the arrogance of intellectuals. In his great masterpiece, the 'Essays', he comes across as relentlessly wise and intelligent


  • but also as constantly modest and keen to debunk the pretensions of learning. Not least, he's extremely funny,


  • reminding his readers: 'to learn that we have said or done a stupid thing is nothing, we must learn a more


  • ample and important lesson: that we are but blockheads... (or, as he put it) On the highest throne in the world,


  • we are seated, still, upon our arses.'

    我們還必須學習更廣泛、更重要的一課 -- 我們不過是個蠢蛋。」

  • Montaigne was a child of the Renaissance and the ancient philosophers popular in Montaigne's day

    或者就像他說的:「即使在世界上最位高權重的王位, 我們依然只是坐在自己的屁股上。」

  • believed that our powers of reason could afford us a happiness and greatness denied to other creatures.

    蒙田身在文藝復興時代, 而在蒙田那時代受到歡迎的古典哲學家

  • Reason was a sophisticated, almost divine, tool offering us mastery over the world and ourselves.

    普遍相信人類的理性力量能使我們快樂、偉大, 這是其他的生物無法企及的

  • That was the line taken by philosophers like Cicero.

    「理性」是最精緻、甚至神聖的力量, 讓我們得以主導世界、主導自己 --

  • But this characterization of human reason enraged Montaigne. After hanging out with academics and philosophers, he wrote,

    -- 這是像西賽羅那樣的哲學家的觀點。

  • "In practice, thousands of little women in their villages have lived more gentle, more equable and more constant lives than [Cicero].


  • His point wasn't that human beings can't reason at all,


  • simply that they tend to be far too arrogant about the limits of their brains. As he wrote,

    「事實上,成千上萬生活在村莊裡的小婦人 都比西賽羅過得還祥和、平靜、而忠誠。」

  • "Our life consists partly in madness, partly in wisdom. Whoever writes about it merely respectfully and by rule leaves more than half of it behind."

    他並不是完全否定人類的理性, 而是人類太過傲慢而未能認清大腦的侷限

  • Perhaps the most obvious example of our madness is the struggle of living within a human body.

    就如同他寫的: 「我們的生命一半是瘋狂,一半是智慧;

  • Our bodies smell, ache, sag, pulse, throb and age (whatever the desires of our minds).

    任何人若只是帶著敬意描述它, 即是將一半以上的生命略去不談。」

  • Montaigne was the world's first and possibly only philosopher

    也許我們的瘋狂最明顯的例子, 就是活在人類肉體內的各種掙扎,

  • to talk at length about impotence, which seemed to him a prime example of how crazy and fragile our minds are.

    無論我們的大腦希望如何, 我們的肉體仍會有氣味、會疼痛、下垂、脈動、老去。

  • Montaigne had a friend

    蒙田是有史以來第一個、也許是唯一一個 討論「性無能」的哲學家 --

  • who'd grown impotent with a woman he particularly liked.

    -- 對他而言,這是顯示出我們的大腦 有多瘋狂和脆弱的主要例子

  • Montaigne didn't blame the penis. The problem was the mind, the oppressive notion that we had complete control over our bodies, and the horror of


  • departing from this theoretical normality. The solution, Montaigne said, was to redraw our sense of what's normal.

    蒙田認為這不是陰莖的錯;問題出在大腦 --

  • By accepting a loss of command over the penis as a harmless common possibility in lovemaking

    -- 在於那個壓迫性的認知, 認為我們可以完全掌控自己的肉體,

  • one could preempt its occurrenceas the stricken man eventually discovered. In bed with a woman, he learnt to,


  • "Admit beforehand that he was subject to this infirmity and spoke openly about it,


  • so relieving the tensions within his soul. By bearing the malady as something to be expected,

    如果放棄對陰莖的控制,並接受不舉是 做愛時一個正常的可能,就能預測它的發生,

  • his sense of constriction grew less and weighed less heavily upon him."


  • Montaigne's frankness allows the tensions in the reader's own soul to be relieved.


  • A man who failed with his girlfriend could regain his forces


  • and soothe the anxieties of his beloved by accepting that his impotence belonged to a broad realm of sexual mishaps, neither very rare nor very peculiar.

    一旦承認這個缺陷是可能發生的, 這件事的束縛感就會減輕。

  • Montaigne was equally frank about limitations of his intellect (and of its usefulness).


  • Academia was deeply prestigious in Montaigne's day, as in our own.

    當男人無法滿足女友,可以從這樣的說法中重獲力量, 並以此舒緩他的愛人的焦慮,

  • Yet, although Montaigne was an excellent scholar, he hated pedantry in academia.

    接受他的性無能是一種廣泛發生的性缺陷, 既不罕見、也並非異常。

  • He only wanted to learn things that were useful and relentlessly attacked academics for being out of touch.

    蒙田對於智識的侷限也同樣坦率, 並且懷疑智識是否有用

  • "If man were wise, he would gauge the true worth of anything by its usefulness and appropriateness to his life," he said.

    蒙田那時代的學術界充滿優越感 -- 我們這時代亦然

  • Only that which makes us feel better maybe worth understanding.

    然而,儘管蒙田是個傑出的學者, 他非常厭惡學術圈的學究氣息

  • In this vein, Montaigne mocked books that were difficult to read.

    他只想學習有用的事物, 並無情地抨擊學術圈的不切實際。

  • He admitted to his readers that he found Plato more than a little boringand that he just wanted to have fun with books:

    蒙田認為:「一個人如果聰明,就會根據事物對其 人生的用處和適切性來衡量其真正價值。」

  • "I'm not prepared to bash my brains out for anything, not even for learning's sake however precious it may be.


  • From books all I seek is to get myself some pleasure by an honorable pastime...


  • If I come across some difficult passages in my reading

    他向讀者承認,他覺得閱讀柏拉圖有點無聊; 他只想要從書中尋找樂趣。

  • I don't bite my nails over them: after making a charge or two I let them be... If one book tires me

    「我不打算為任何事物絞盡腦汁, 即使是為了學習,無論它有多珍貴。

  • I just take up another." He could be pretty caustic about incomprehensible philosophers.

    我想從書本中尋求的,僅只是 擁有一段美好時光讓自己愉快;

  • "Difficulty is a coin which the learned conjure with so as not to reveal the vanity of their studies

    如果在閱讀時遇到困難的段落, 我不會為此鑽牛角尖,

  • and which human stupidity is keen to accept in payment."

    在嘗試了一兩次之後,我就讓它去了; 如果有本書讓我覺得疲憊,我就換另外一本。」

  • Montaigne observed how an intimidating scholarly culture


  • has made all of us study other people's books way before we study our own minds. And yet, as he put it:

    「艱澀是學者用來變把戲的銅板,目的是 為了避免洩漏他們徒勞無功的研究,

  • "We are richer than we think, each one of us."


  • Montaigne is refreshing because he describes a life

    蒙田觀察到,恫嚇式的學術文化,如何讓我們在 學習自己的思想以前,急於學習他人的書,

  • which is recognizably like our own and yet inspiring stillhe is a very human ideal.

    然而就如同他說的:「我們比自己以為的 還要更豐富,每一個人都是如此。」

  • We may all arrived at wise ideas if we cease to think of ourselves

    蒙田讓人耳目一新,因為他所描述的生活, 我們能認得這就像是我們真正的生活,

  • as unsuited to the task just because we aren't two thousand years old, or aren't interested in the topics of Plato's dialogues or have a so-called ordinary life.

    但仍然充滿洞見、鼓舞人心 -- 他是個非常人性化的理想型。

  • Montaigne reassures us: "You can attach the whole of moral philosophy to a commonplace private life

    我們都可能擁有充滿智慧的思想, 只要我們不再認為自己無法這麼做 --

  • just as well as to one with richer stuff."

    -- 只因為我們不是兩千歲,或對柏拉圖對話錄中 的主題不感興趣,或只擁有所謂的平凡生活

  • In Montaigne's redrawn portrait of the adequate, semi-rational human being, it's possible to speak no Greek

    蒙田向我們保證:「你可以將整套道德哲學應用 在平凡的私人生活中,就如同應用在不平凡的生活。」

  • change one's mind after a meal, get bored with a book, be impotent and know pretty much none of the Ancient philosophers.


  • A virtuous ordinary life, striving for wisdom but never far from folly, is achievement enough.

    可以不談論古希臘、在一頓飯的時間內改變主意、 覺得書本很無聊、性無能、不太了解古典哲學家 --

  • Montaigne remains the great, readable intellectual with whom we can laugh at intellectuals

    有德性的平凡生活、追求智慧、但未曾遠離蠢事, 已經是足夠了不起的成就。

  • and pretensions of many kinds. He was a breath of fresh air in the cloistered, unworldly,

    蒙田是位偉大、簡單易讀的知識份子, 我們可以跟他一起嘲笑知識份子和各種虛偽。

  • snobbish corridors of the academia of the 16th centuryand because academia has, sadly,

    在16世紀學術圈那不切實際又充滿勢利眼的象牙塔裡, 蒙田是一股清流,

  • not changed very much, he continues to be an inspiration and a solace to all of us who feel routinely

    而因為學術圈 -- 可悲的-- 至今並未有太多轉變, 蒙田持續地成為我們的鼓舞和慰藉

  • oppressed and patronized by the pedantry and arrogance of so-called clever people.

    -- 對於所有覺得自己日復一日地被那些充滿學究氣的、 傲慢的、所謂的「聰明人」壓迫和指導的人們而言。

We generally think that philosophers should be proud of their big brains, and be fans of thinking

我們通常認為哲學家應該非常自豪於自己的聰明, 而且熱愛反思和理性分析


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