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论愚蠢(Of Folly)  

2008-10-22 12:00:58|  分类: 闲情偶记 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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读到一篇好文章,作者迪特里希·朋霍费尔(Dietrich  Bonhoeffer,1906-1945),一个德国牧师、神学家,曾参与德国抵抗纳粹的反对运动,死在集中营里。这篇文章一开头就说到:比起恶意,愚蠢是善的更危险的一个敌人---- 你可以抵制恶意,可以凭借力量来防卫恶意,打击恶意,但愚蠢却是防无可防的。还谈到:愚蠢是一种道德上的缺陷,和智力无关;愚蠢不是天生的,而是一种后天养成的习惯;愚蠢是无药可救的,教育拯救不了蠢人,蠢人需要的是救赎,此外别无他法;统治者是希望从人们的愚蠢之中,而不是从人们的独立判断和敏锐思想之中,获得更多的东西。作者告诫说:一而再再而三地想同蠢人论理,那是既无用又很危险的(我马上想到:一而再再而三地同蠢人讲道理,这本身是一件蠢事)。

就我个人来说,在别人眼里我是什么样的,基本上和我没什么太大关系。只有极少数人对我的看法是我真正在意并且能够影响我的,我会因他们的看法而产生改变自己或者建设自己的愿望。我当然愿意做个好人----我认为的好人, 但这还不是我最关心的,我最关心的是:尽可能不要做一个蠢人。王小波肯定也读过这篇文章,因为他有同样的论调-----认为愚蠢是一种习惯,并且进而谈到蠢人是如何把我们的生活弄得非常痛苦的。我一向认为,愚蠢是最大的恶。所以,我那么喜欢王小波,那么喜欢连岳,是很自然的事情。愚蠢无药可救,愚蠢的人往往很顽固-----但不一定是独立。我在某些方面很顽固,所以免不了愚蠢的危险。事实上我干过不少蠢事,比如一而再再而三地试图和蠢人讲道理。但蠢人也不总是在所有环境里都一样蠢,蠢人也有可能得到救赎 ----- 灵性上的、自我的救赎,这一点真让我欣慰:在我终于明白并且下决心决绝地远离某个蠢人的时候,我在救赎的道路上就又前进了一步。

Of Folly

Dietrich  Bonhoeffer,1906-1945

Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than malice. You can protest against malice, you can unmask it or prevent it by force. Malice always contains the seeds of its own destruction, for it always makes men uncomfortable, if nothing worse. There is no defence against folly. Neither protests nor force are of any avail against it, and it is never amenable to reason. If facts contradict personal prejudices, there is no need to believe them, and if they are undeniable, they can simply be pushed aside as exceptions. Thus the fool, as compared with the scoundrel, is invariably self-complacent. And he can easily become dangerous, for it does not take much to make him aggressive. Hence folly requires much more cautious handling than malice. We shall never again try to reason with the fool, for it is both useless and dangerous.

To deal adequately with folly it is essential to recognize it for what it is. This much is certain, it is a moral rather than an intellectual defect. There are men of great intellect who are fools, and men of low intellect who are anything but fools, a discovery we make to our surprise as a result of particular circumstances. The impression we derive is that folly is acquired rather than congenital; it is acquired in certain circumstances where men make fools of themselves or allow others to make fools of them. We observe further that folly is less common in the unsociable or the solitary than in individuals or groups who are inclined or condemned to sociability. From this it would appear that folly is a sociological problem rather than one of psychology. It is a special form of the operation of historical circumstances upon men, a psychological by-product of definite external factors. On closer inspection it would seem that any violent revolution, whether political or religious, produces an outburst of folly in a large part of mankind. Indeed, it would seem to be almost a law of psychology and sociology. The power of one needs the folly of the other. It is not that certain aptitudes of men, intellectual aptitudes for instance, become stunted or destroyed. Rather, the upsurge of power is so terrific that it deprives men of an independent judgement, and they give up trying--more or less unconsciously--to assess the new state of affairs for themselves. The fool can often be stubborn, but this must not mislead us into thinking he is independent. One feels somehow, especially in conversation with him, that it is impossible to talk to the man himself, to talk to him personally. Instead, one is confronted with a series of slogans watchwords, and the like, which have acquired power over him. He is under a curse, he is blinded, his very humanity is being prostituted and exploited. Once he has surrendered his will and become a mere tool, there are no lengths of evil to which the fool will not go, yet all the time he is unable to see that it is evil. Here lies the danger of a diabolical exploitation of humanity, which can do irreparable damage to the human character.

But it is just at this point that we realize that the fool cannot be saved by education. What he needs is redemption. There is nothing else for it. Until then it is no earthly good trying to convince him by rational argument. In this state of affairs we can well understand why it is no use trying to find out what 'the people' really think, and why this question is also so superfluous for the man who thinks and acts responsibly. As the Bible says, 'the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom'. In other words, the only cure for folly is spiritual redemption, for that alone can enable a man to live as a responsible person in the sight of God.

But there is a grain of consolation in these reflections on human folly. There is no reason for us to think that the majority of men are fools under all circumstances. What matters in the long run is whether our rulers hope to gain more from the folly of men, or from their independence of judgement and their shrewdness of mind.


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