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瓦尔登湖:经济篇7

2006-07-28 18:31

  Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.  With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor. The ancient philosophers, Chinese, Hindoo, Persian, and Greek, were a class than which none has been poorer in outward riches, none so rich in inward.  We know not much about them.  It is remarkable that we know so much of them as we do.  The same is true of the more modern reformers and benefactors of their race.  None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty.  Of a life of luxury the fruit is luxury, whether in agriculture, or commerce, or literature,or art.  There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.  Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live.  To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence,magnanimity, and trust.  It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically.  The success of great scholars and thinkers is commonly a courtier-like success, not kingly, not manly.  They make shift to live merely by conformity,practically as their fathers did, and are in no sense the progenitors of a noble race of men.  But why do men degenerate ever?

  What makes families run out?  What is the nature of the luxury which enervates and destroys nations?  Are we sure that there is none of it in our own lives?  The philosopher is in advance of his age even in the outward form of his life.  He is not fed, sheltered, clothed,warmed, like his contemporaries.  How can a man be a philosopher and not maintain his vital heat by better methods than other men?

  When a man is warmed by the several modes which I have described, what does he want next?  Surely not more warmth of the same kind, as more and richer food, larger and more splendid houses,finer and more abundant clothing, more numerous, incessant, and hotter fires, and the like.  When he has obtained those things which are necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain the superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, his vacation from humbler toil having commenced.  The soil, it appears,is suited to the seed, for it has sent its radicle downward, and it may now send its shoot upward also with confidence.  Why has man rooted himself thus firmly in the earth, but that he may rise in the same proportion into the heavens above? —— for the nobler plants are valued for the fruit they bear at last in the air and light, far from the ground, and are not treated like the humbler esculents,which, though they may be biennials, are cultivated only till they have perfected their root, and often cut down at top for this purpose, so that most would not know them in their flowering season.

  I do not mean to prescribe rules to strong and valiant natures,who will mind their own affairs whether in heaven or hell, and perchance build more magnificently and spend more lavishly than the richest, without ever impoverishing themselves, not knowing how they live —— if, indeed, there are any such, as has been dreamed; nor to those who find their encouragement and inspiration in precisely the present condition of things, and cherish it with the fondness and enthusiasm of lovers —— and, to some extent, I reckon myself in this number; I do not speak to those who are well employed, in whatever circumstances, and they know whether they are well employed or not;—— but mainly to the mass of men who are discontented, and idly complaining of the hardness of their lot or of the times, when they might improve them.  There are some who complain most energetically and inconsolably of any, because they are, as they say, doing their duty.  I also have in my mind that seemingly wealthy, but most terribly impoverished class of all, who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters.

  大部分的奢侈品,大部分的所谓生活的舒适,非但没有必要,而且对人类进步大有妨碍。所以关于奢侈与舒适,最明智的人生活得甚至比穷人更加简单和朴素。中国、印度、波斯和希腊的古哲学家都是一个类型的人物,外表生活再穷没有,而内心生活再富不过。我们都不够理解他们。然而可惊的一点是,我们居然对于他们知道得不少呢。近代那些改革家,各民族的救星,也都如此。唯有站在我们所谓的甘贫乐苦这有利地位上,才能成为大公无私的聪明的观察者。无论在农业,商业,文学或艺术中,奢侈生活产生的果实都是奢侈的。近来是哲学教授满天飞,哲学家一个没有。然而教授是可羡的,因为教授的生活是可羡的。但是,要做一个哲学家的活,不但要有精美的思想,不但要建立起一个学派来,而且要这样地爱智慧,从而按照了智慧的指示,过着一种简单、独立、大度、信任的生活。解决生命的一些问题,不但要在理论上,而且要在实践中。大学问家和思想家的成功,通常不是帝王式的,也不是英豪式的,反而是朝臣式的成功。他们应付生活,往往求其与习俗相符合,像他们的父辈一般,所以一点不能成为更好的人类的始祖。可是,为什么人类总在退化?是什么使得那些家族没落的?使国家衰亡的糜侈是什么性质的呢?在我们的生活中,我们能否确定自己并未这样?哲学家甚至在生活的外形上也是处在时代前列的。他不像他同时代人那样地吃喝、居住、穿着、取暖。一个人既是哲学家,怎会没有比别人更好的养身的保持体温的方法呢?

  人已在我所描写的几种方式下暖和了,其次他要干什么呢?当然不会是同等样的更多的温暖。他不会要求更多更富足的食物,更大更光耀的房屋,更丰富更精美的衣服,更多更持久更灼热的火炉等等了。他在得到了这些生命所必需的事物之后,就不会要过剩品而要有另一些东西;那就是说免于卑微工作的假期开始了,现在他要向生命迈进了。

  泥土看来是适宜于种子的,因为泥土使它的胚根向下延伸,然后它可以富有自信地使茎向上茁长。为什么人在泥土里扎了根之后,不能援例向天空伸展呢?——因为那些更高贵的植物的价值是由远离地面的、最后在空气和日光中结成的果实来评定的,而不是像对待那低卑蔬菜的那样。蔬菜就算是两年生的植物,那也只是被培植到生好根以后,而且常被摘去顶枝,使得许多人在开花的季节都认不得它们。

  我可不想给一些性格坚强的人定什么规章,他们不论在天堂地狱,都会专注于自己的事业,他们甚至比最富者建筑得更宏伟,挥霍得更厉害,却不会因而贫团,我们不知道他们是如何生活的,——如果确实像人们梦想着的,有这种人存在的话;另外我也不给另一种人定出规章,他们是从事物的现状中得到鼓励,得到灵感,像情人一样热烈地珍爱现实——我认为我自己也属于这种人的:还有那些人,在任何情况下都能安居乐业,不管他们知不知道自己是否安居乐业,那些人,我也不是向他们说话的。我主要是向那些不满足的人说话,他们在应该可以改善生活的时候,却偏偏只是懒洋洋地诉说他们的命苦和他们那时代的悲惨。有些人对任何事情,都叫苦连天,不可救药地诉不完的苦,因为据他们说,他们是尽了他们的职责的。但我心目之中还有一种人,这种人看来阔绰、实际却是所有阶层中贫困得最可怕的,他们固然已积蓄了一些闲钱,却不懂得如何利用它,也不懂得如何摆脱它,因此他们给自己铸造了一副金银的镣铐。

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