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发表于 2019-6-27 20:02:58 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
文章信息
原作者: 林炎平
文章来源: 时代学园TimeAcademy
来源地址: -
发布时间:
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林炎平博士应邀于2019年6月16日在斯坦福大学古典学系毕业典礼上作演讲,在此刊登演讲全文和中文译文,以飨读者。中文由作者本人亲自翻译,英文原文附在后面。

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现代文明的DNA
在斯坦福大学古典学系毕业典礼上的讲演
2019年6月16日

我非常荣幸在这个伟大的大学和这个神奇的系做毕业典礼讲演。

你们现在也许会怀疑今年系里是否把讲演者搞错了,因为看起来他既不像希腊人,他的博士学位也和古典学无关。不错,难道一个具有亚洲文化和冶金工程领域背景的人与古典学或古希腊有什么关系吗?

这样的怀疑显然是合理的。正是为了这些理由,今天我要告诉你们,古希腊和古罗马文明对我们每个人都很重要,无论他是希腊人还是中国人,无论他的学科是古典学还是工程。原因很简单,古典文明是我们现代文明的DNA。它对我们所有人都很重要,它属于整个人类社会,从北到南,从西到东。

为了证明这一点,我带给你一个令人兴奋的东西例子:中国浙江大学刚刚赞助翻译并出版了著名的世界级学者的一系列作品,约书亚·奥博【1】的书是其中的重要组成部分。这就是他精彩的中译本《民主与知识- 古典雅典的创新与学习》。完成这项工作花了6年时间,期间我们有时觉得由于客观环境而无法完成。但我们最终做到了。那么,现在我们有了另一个类似于先前的问题:为什么我们需要将古典研究和学术引入中国?

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我将尝试通过两个有趣的视角提供答案,这两个视角是:中国文化和工程。

自从我接触到古希腊以来,我一直非常喜欢古希腊文明,我怀疑我的前世一定与此有某种联系。我记得一个关于第二次世界大战中美国巴顿将军的故事:他确信他曾经是古罗马军官,曾在2000年前在北非参加了罗马人和迦太基人之间的战争。我不确定一个人是否可以拥有前世,但是当我2004年第一次访问希腊时,我觉得它是如此似曾相识,以至于我肯定以前曾到此地。当然,我此前从未涉足。这种熟悉感可能来自我对希腊文明的认识和热情。当然,如果巴顿的信念是现实的,那么我也可能在2500年前在伯里克利时代就在古雅典。在他那著名的“葬礼演说”【2】中,我也许就在观众席上。诚然,我们不管过去是否和古希腊文明有联系,但只要我们热爱自由和持有对自由的理念,那么我们都是希腊人。

我不得不说,对古典文明的热爱是没有时间限制和地域边界的。著名的华裔美国数学家陈省身在临终前告诉他的亲密朋友和家人:“我要回希腊去了,那里是数学的故乡”。我有幸在中国攻读硕士学位时听过他感人至深的讲演。他既爱中国也爱希腊。在中国传统中,一个人在他去世后应该被埋葬在他的家乡,但陈教授选择了永远与希腊在一起。这个故事告诉我们有些事物和理念超越了你的家乡、你的文化、你的种族、你的国家、你的信仰。对我来说,这就是古希腊。

类似这样的经历令我希望亲身体验西方,因为那里是希腊文明得到继承、发展和弘扬的地方。这就是我去加拿大的原因。我有幸获得加拿大大学的赞助,得以前去攻读博士。我一无所有地来到了加拿大蒙特利尔,除了一张耗费了我父母一生积蓄的单程机票和口袋里的60美元。

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我对古希腊文明可以说是一见钟情。拜伦勋爵的诗很好地表达了我的感情:

雅典的少女呵,
    在我们分别以前,
    把我的心,把我的心交还!
    或者,既然它已经和我脱离,
    留着它吧,把其余的也拿去!
    请听一句我临别前的誓语:
    你是我的生命,我爱你。

也许你会问我为什么这么热爱希腊。简短的回答是:在黑暗中度过最长时间的人最热爱阳光。

在灾难性的人为的政治动荡期间,我父亲因言获罪被送到劳改营,而我被送到一个偏远的山区小村庄去当农民。我的生活比驴更糟,而且由于父亲的背景,我几乎没有希望离开那里。它实际上是一个劳改营,另一个村庄有一位学生绝望而自杀。这是一个非常悲惨的时期,除非经历,否则难以置信。我试着对我孩子谈这些事情,他们无法理解。

后来,事情开始发生变化。我进入中国的大学后,第一次遭遇古希腊文明。那时年轻的学生们正在寻找答案:为什么像中国这样伟大民族居然会如此自虐。那是一个艰难的反省时期,我意识到中国在其悠久历史中一再经历这样的灾难。而且,不仅中国,在几乎所有的人类历史中,几乎所有民族都遭受了基本相同的灾难。但是有一个例外,那就是古希腊。

毋庸讳言,古希腊文明并不完美,因为它有奴隶,而妇女也没有选票。但我们不应该因为其奴隶的存在和对妇女的歧视而贬损古希腊文明。理由很简单,所有其它文明都有类似古希腊的问题,但古希腊所作出的贡献却独一无二。

我们必须把历史事件放在其当时的背景下进行评估,我们不能用今天的道德标准去衡量它们。如果我们不遵循这一原则,那总有一天我们都将被视为罪犯。我预测,在100年内,屠杀哺乳动物将是犯罪,更不用说食用它们了。

我们无需粉饰古希腊,但是,正是这个独特的文明为我们提供了我们现在称之为“现代”的理念。而它们正是我们现代文明的DNA。如果没有它们,我们的现代文明将不复存在。

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当我还在中国念大学时,有一门哲学课,其主要目的是为了教我们马克思主义。古希腊历史只是该课中的极小一部分。但正是这一丁点关于古希腊及其后来的文艺复兴的蛛丝马迹引起了我的注意,使我联想到了所有那些数学中的希腊符号和人物。这一切都指向一个严肃的问题:古希腊人做了什么,他们对我们意味着什么?

经过多年的探索、思考和反思,我从不同的立场和视角得出了以下结论,并与我所知的中国文化进行了比较。古希腊文明的独一无二体现在了如下的4个公理、2个定理和1个原则:

这是4个公理:

1)批判精神
没有任何其它文化如此推崇批判。在别的文化中,如果你批判,你会受到惩罚。

2)竞争精神:
奥运会是最好的例子。竞争,公平公正,而不是斗争。

3)思辨精神:
欧几里德的几何学是至高无上的例子。

4)人本主义精神:
伯里克利的葬礼演说和希波克拉底誓言就是最好的例子,人是衡量万物的尺度。

以下是从公理推导出的2个定理:

1)科学:
没有任何其它文明接近过这一境界。

2)民主:
没有任何其他民族敢于梦想这种形式,而古希腊人竟然付诸实践。

由以上,得出一个原则:

1)公民:
这一切都归结为人类的价值。当其他民族只有统治者和臣民时,古希腊发明了这种独特而现代的概念——公民。

有些看起来理所当然的理念,如果你不从不同的文化视角去观察,便可能错过一些东西。在这里,我想举几个例子:

1)白痴:
在别处,人们称一个非常关注公共事务的人是“白痴”。在古希腊,他们称一个不关心公共事务的人是“白痴”。

2)剧院:
在别处,剧院的舞台比观众席高。而在古希腊,舞台处于最低位置,观众席比舞台高而且越远的座席越高。

3)自由与食物:
在别处,如果你想用自由作为激励人们战斗的口号,你几乎找不到志同道合者。而希波战争期间的古希腊的战士只为自由而战。

4)对话与一言堂:
对话是希腊人崇尚的方式。世界上别的地方找不到这样的想法或实践。孔子不要对话,他只要弟子遵循他的说教。

5)有用与无用
在别处,如果某样事物不能立即产生实效,那么它就被视为“屠龙之术”。由于龙不存在,它就意味着“无用”。这就是为什么华夏从未有过真正的数学或科学的原因。然而,希腊人从不介意无用。阿波罗尼研究的圆锥曲线,当时毫无用处,而且它此后1500年内仍然无用。那又怎样?在开普勒和牛顿之后,我们开始知道太空中的物体必须遵循圆锥曲线,即圆、椭圆、抛物线或双曲线之一。

这几个古希腊科学巨匠是我们工程人永远景仰的:

1)阿里斯塔克:
他测量了地球与太阳,地球和月球之间的距离,并得出宇宙中心是太阳而不是地球的结论。

2)埃拉托塞尼:
他通过观察这样一个事实来计算地球的周长:在夏天的中午,亚历山大的一个旗杆有一段阴影,但在赛恩(现代的阿斯旺)却没有。

3)欧几里得:
他为科学提供了最强大的逻辑工具。如果没有他的《几何原本》,科学就不可能诞生。

4)阿基米德:
大家都耳熟能详,我不再赘述。

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不胜枚举,古希腊产生了这么多伟大的学者,他们改变了世界,并给了我们现代性的基本概念。当然,我只提到了一些自然科学方面的巨匠。我在这里并没有提到苏格拉底、柏拉图或亚里士多德或其他伟大哲学家,因为我仍然不太了解它们。你们对他们的了解应该远远超过我。

这也是为什么我一直认为在科学与人文之间,工程与艺术之间应该架起桥梁,这些学科在古希腊曾经浑然一体,现在是时候让它们破镜重圆了。

我们可以将历史上的人类社会分为3类:

1)以统治者为中心的社会:
我认为这是最糟糕的社会形式,统治者就是一切。今天的北朝鲜就是一个例子。

2)以神为中心的社会:
这个形式虽有问题,但比前一个更好,因为至少被统治者仍然有机会以上帝的名义质问统治者。

3)以人为中心的社会:
这是古希腊首先发明的独特形式,人是社会的中心,公民是社会最终目的,而不是神,更不是统治者。古希腊开创性地为人类社会提供了这个社会形式,它至今仍然是我们的目标。

我想现在我已经回答了之前提出的问题。

由于所有这些原因,我不认为所有形式的社会都具有相同的价值。由于我非常推崇古希腊文明,因此受到了一些中国同胞的批评。我知道我的说法让他们感到不安,甚至生气。但我这样做是因为关心中国民众,因为我相信批判是一种关心的形式。我认为:我们只有一个地球,我们应该只把自己视为人类,而不是按国家、肤色、文化或宗教来把我们割裂为对立的群体。我们应该客观地评估不同的文明和文化,而不会因此感到被冒犯。

不幸的是,在21世纪,许多人抛弃了古希腊的价值。正如欧洲千年前所做的那样,欧洲直到文艺复兴时期才看到了古希腊价值观的重生。从此开始,我们进入了启蒙,然后进入了工业革命。其余都是历史。

但是,我们可能会再次失去这些价值观。我觉得批判精神和竞争精神都处于危险之中。如果我们失去了科学和民主,那将会是一个什么样的世界?如果失去了公民理念,我们会成为什么样的人?如果没有对话,我们的自由表达又会在哪里?但是,当我看到在我面前的毕业生时,我重新获得了希望。

我们有责任接过这文明的火炬并将其传递给下一代。对于今天即将毕业的人来说,今后这也是你的责任:你不能让希望之火熄灭。

你们都将开始新的生活,开始你们的职业生涯或继续深造。你们可能将成为教授、教师、教育家、学者和企业家。凭借你们具有的古希腊精神,无论你选择做什么,你们都应该所向披靡。对于你们来说,你们已经具备了批判精神、竞争精神,思辨精神和人本主义精神,因此你们没有理由不成功。

经典意味着久经考验,饱受风霜,去伪存真。你们将为我们的社会带来其迫切之需要。我衷心祝愿你们在未来的奋斗中硕果累累!

最后,寄语我们所有人:让我们共同努力,走向再次文艺复兴,让世界变得比现在更美好。

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注【1】斯坦福大学古典系主任
注【2】公元前431年伯里克利的《在阵亡将士的葬礼上的演说》

附讲演英文原文:

The DNA of Modern Civilization
The Commencement Address at
Department of Classics
Stanford University, June 16, 2019

It is great honour for me to give this commencement address here at this great university and wonderful department.

It is justified for you to question that why the hell this guy should address us in classics, because it seems that he neither looks like a Greek nor is his Ph.D. related to classics. Indeed, what does a guy with an Asian cultural background and in metallurgical engineering field have anything to do with classics or Greece?

This is a legitimate suspicion. Exactly for these reasons and doubts, today I am going to tell you that Greek and Roman civilization is important to each of us, regardless if he is Greek or Chinese, or his discipline is classics or engineering. The reason is very simple. Classical civilization is the DNA of our modern civilization. It matters to all and everyone of us, and it belongs to whole human society, from north to south and from west to east.

To prove this point, I bring you something exciting. Here is an example, Zhejiang University in China just sponsored the publication of a series of works by renowned world-class scholars, of which Josh is an important part. Here is his wonderful book translated into Chinese, “Democracy and Knowledge – Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens”. It was translated by a very good scholar in China. It took 6 years to complete the work. Sometimes we thought it would not be done because of the political situation there. But we have done it. Now we have another question which is similar to the previous doubts: Why do we need to introduce Greek studies and classical scholarship into China?

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I will try to provide the answers by 2 interesting perspectives: Chinese culture and engineering.

I have been so fond of Greece and Greek civilization since my university years in the Far East that I suspected that I must be somehow related to them in my previous life. I remember a story about General Patton, a WWII American general, who was convinced that he was in North Africa 2000 years ago in the battle between Romans and Carthaginians, as a commander on the side of Roman army. I am not sure if a person can have a previous life, but when Ifirst visited Greece in 2004, I felt it was so familiar and amiable that I must have come here before. Of course, physically I had not. The feeling of such familiarity could be from my acquired knowledge and passion for Greek civilization. Certainly, if Patton’s conviction were real, I could be there 2500 years ago during Pericles’ time. I could be there in the audience during his renowned Funeral Oration. We may or may not have previous connections to Greek civilization, but we share the value of freedom. As long as we love Freedom, we are all Greeks.

I have to say that the love of classical civilization is beyond the limit of time and border. The famous Chinese American mathematician Shiing-Shen Chern told his close friends and loved one in his death bed that “I am going back to Greece, the birthplace of mathematics”. I was moved by his story. I happened to listen his lecture in China when I was doing my Master’s degree there. He loved both China and Greece. In the Chinese tradition, a person should be buried in his hometown after his death. But Prof. Chern chose to be with Greece forever. This story tells us something. Something is beyond your hometown, your culture, your race, your nation, your faith. For me, it is Greece.

Many such things convinced me to experience for myself the West, where Greek civilization was inherited, advanced and expanded. This was why I went to Canada. Two universities in Canada agreed to sponsor my Ph.D. program, so I went to Montreal with one-way ticket that cost my parents all their savings and with $60 in my pocket.

It has been a love affair for me with Greek civilization. Iliked Lord Byron’s poem immediately when I read it and I can recite it since:

    Maid of Athens, ere we part,
    Give, oh give me back my heart!
    Or, since that has left my breast,
    Keep it now, and take the rest!
    Hear my vow before I go,
    Ζωή μου σας αγαποώ

Maybe you will ask why I love Greece so much. Let me tell you this in short: The person who has travelled through the darkness for the longest time will love the sunshine the most. During the disastrous Chinese Cultural Revolution and other manmade political turmoil, my father was sent to labor camp for his criticizing people in the government and I was sent to a small remote mountainous village, forced to live like a peasant. My life was even worse than that of a donkey and with my father’s background I had little hope to get out of that situation. A student at another village hanged himself. It was literally a labor camp. I could have died there. It was a very miserable period. If you did not live through it, you would have difficulties to believe it. I tried to talk this to my sons. I realized that I had little chance to convince them all these were true. I will wait a bit longer and try again.

Then Mao died in time, which was too late anyway, and things started to change. I first encountered Greek civilization when I entered a university in China. Young students were seeking the answers to why a great nation like China could do such irrational things to itself. It was a difficult soul-searching time. I realized that China had experienced such disasters through out its long history of autocratic government. And it was not only China, almost all nations, during almost all of human history, had had suffered basically the same things. There was one great exception and that is ancient Greece.

We can always argue that Greek civilization was not perfect because it had slaves and women had no votes. I agree that it was not perfect, but we should not discount Greece because of its systemic slavery and discrimination against women. All other cultures had problems similar to those of Greece, but Greece contributed what other cultures never did.

We have to evaluate the historical practices in their context. We cannot use our moral standards of today to measure them then. If we do not follow this principle, one day we all will be regarded as criminals; I predict that in less than 100 years, killing mammals will be a crime, let alone eating them.

While we should not paint Ancient Greece with rosy colors, it was the unique civilization that provided us with the concepts that we now call modern. Those concepts are the DNA of our modern civilization, and without them our modernity would be impossible.

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When I was still at my Chinese university, I took a philosophy class that was mainly aimed at teaching us Marxism. Greek history was a tiny part of that class. But it was that tiny mention of Ancient Greece and its later Renaissance that caught my attention. I thought of all those Greek symbols and characters in mathematics. And it all gave me a question: what did Ancient Greeks do and what do they mean to us?

I came to the following conclusions after many years of searching, thinking and reflection, from a very different angle and perspective and compared with the Chinese culture that I know. I concluded Greek civilization is unique and I summed up that uniqueness in 4 axioms, 2 theorems, and 1 principle:

Here are the 4 axioms:

1)The spirit of criticism:
No other culture fully appreciates and promotes criticism. In other cultures, if you criticized, you would be punished.

2)The spirit of competitiveness:
Olympic games is the best example.

3)The spirit of rationality:
Euclid’s geometry is a supreme example.

4)The spirit of humanism:
Think about Pericles’ oration and the Hippocratic oath.

Here are 2 theorems that are deduced from the axioms:

1)Science:
No other early culture had such a rich concept of science.

2)Democracy:
No other nations dared to dream about this form of government, but Greeks put this into practice.

Then, there is 1 principle:

1)Citizenship:

It all came down to the value of human. When other nations had only rulers and subjects, Greece invented this unique and modern concept, the citizen.

You know a lot more than I do about classics and Ancient Greece and Rome, but you may miss something if you do not observe from a different culture. Something that you take for granted may not be so on the other side. Here I would like to just give you some examples:

1) Idiot:

In China, they call a person who pays much attention to public affairs an “idot”. In Greece, they call a person who does not care public affairs “idot”.

2) Theater:

In China, the stage in a theater is higher than audience who are on ground. In Greece, the stage is on the lowest position and the audience is sitting on the raising seats.

3) Freedom vs food:

In China, if you want to use freedom as a slogan to motivate people to fight, you will get few. Think of the contrast in ancient Greece during Greek-Persian Wars.

4) Dialogue vs. monologue

Dialogue is a central Greeks idea and practice. I find no such idea or practice in Chinese history. Confucius did not engage in dialogue; he never encouraged or promoted dialogue; perhaps he lacked the very idea of dialogue.

5) Useful vs. useless

In China if something that cannot be applied to generate some practical merits, then it is dismissed as a “Dragon killing skill“. Since dragons do not exist, it means “useless”. This was why China never had real mathematics. However, Greeks never mind uselessness. Apollonius was studying conic curves, when such study was practically useless then and it remained useless for another 1500 years. Then what? After Kepler and Newton, we started to know that a body in space must follow one of the conic curves, circle, ellipse, parabola or hyperbola.

Let me remind you of the names of just a few giants of Greek science and engineering:

1)Aristarchus:

He measured the distances between Earth and Sun, Earth and Moon, and concluding the center of universe was Sun not Earth.

2)Eratosthenes:

He measured the circumference of Earth by observing the fact that on the summer day at noon a flagpole in Alexandria had a shadow but in Syene (modern Aswan) it did not.

3)Euclid:

He provided the most powerful tools of logic for science. Without his “Element”, nothing would be possible in science.

4)Archimedes:

He contributed too many to mention and you know probably many of them.

There are too many more of them to mention. I remain astounded by the fact that Greece could produce so many great scholars who actually changed the world and gave us concepts fundamental to modernity. I only mentioned a few great scholars on natural science side.

I hesitate even to mention Socrates, Plato, Aristotle or other great philosophers here because I still do not really understand them. You know much more about them than I do.

This is also why I have been thinking that building bridges between science and humanity, between engineering and arts, is so badly needed today. These disciplines were united in ancient Greece. It is the time to bring them together again.

I suggest that we can categorize historical human societies into 3 kinds:

1)Ruler centered society:

This I consider the worst form of society, godless and inhumane. The ruler is everything, an example is modern North Korea.

2)God centered society:

Whoever has the power to interpret the god, rules the society. This is better than the previous one, because at least the subjects still have the chance to question the rulers in the name of god.

3)Human centered society:

This is the unique approach that was first formed in Ancient Greece. The human is the center of the society and citizens give society its ultimate purpose, not god, even less a ruler. This was what Greece first brought to human society. It remains the goal of our Western society today.

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I think by now I have answered the questions raised before.

For all these reasons, I do not think every form of society has the same value. Since I value Greek culture so highly, I have been criticized by my fellow Chinese. I know that I made them feel uneasy and sometimes even angry, but I do that because I care for them, because I believe that criticism is a form of caring. I always tell them this: We have only one earth and we should consider ourselves only human beings rather than dividing us by nations, colors, cultures or religions. We should be able to objectively evaluate different civilizations and cultures without feeling offended.

The tragedy is that in the 21st century many people have lost sight of Ancient Greek values. We may lose Greece, just as Europe did over thousand years ago. We lived without it, until the Renaissance saw the rebirth of Greek values, which took us into the enlightenment and then the industrial revolution. The rest is history.

But, we may lose those values again. I say this because I feel the spirit of criticism and the spirit of competition are in danger. Without science and democracy, what kind of world would it be? Without citizenship, what kind people would we be? Without dialogue, where would free expression be? But when I see before me students who have studied the classics, I regain hope.

So speaking first for myself and for your teachers: It has been our duty to carry the torch and to relay it to the next generation. And, speaking to you who are graduating today, that duty is now also yours: you must not let the light go out.

You all will start new lives, beginning your careers or continuing further study. You may be on the way to becoming professors, teachers, educators, scholars and entrepreneurs. With the spirit of classics, you should be able to do very well regardless what you choose to do. For eachone of you, with such preparation in the spirit of criticism, competitiveness, rationality and humanity, there is no reason for you not to do well.

Classics means tested, seasoned and true. You will bring our society much that it badly needs. My best wishes to your future endeavours!

Speaking finally, for all of us together: let us work together to build the bridges to a second Renaissance: Let us make the world a better place than it is now.


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