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Alcibiades I(5)

2006-09-07 20:37

  Alcibiades I (continued)

  SOCRATES: What is he, then?

  ALCIBIADES: I cannot say.

  SOCRATES: Nay, you can say that he is the user of the body.

  ALCIBIADES: Yes.

  SOCRATES: And the user of the body is the soul?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes, the soul.

  SOCRATES: And the soul rules?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes.

  SOCRATES: Let me make an assertion which will, I think, be universally admitted.

  ALCIBIADES: What is it?

  SOCRATES: That man is one of three things.

  ALCIBIADES: What are they?

  SOCRATES: Soul, body, or both together forming a whole.

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly.

  SOCRATES: But did we not say that the actual ruling principle of the body is man?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes, we did.

  SOCRATES: And does the body rule over itself?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly not.

  SOCRATES: It is subject, as we were saying?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes.

  SOCRATES: Then that is not the principle which we are seeking?

  ALCIBIADES: It would seem not.

  SOCRATES: But may we say that the union of the two rules over the body, and consequently that this is man?

  ALCIBIADES: Very likely.

  SOCRATES: The most unlikely of all things; for if one of the members is subject, the two united cannot possibly rule.

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: But since neither the body, nor the union of the two, is man, either man has no real existence, or the soul is man?

  ALCIBIADES: Just so.

  SOCRATES: Is anything more required to prove that the soul is man?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly not; the proof is, I think, quite sufficient.

  SOCRATES: And if the proof, although not perfect, be sufficient, we shall be satisfied;——more precise proof will be supplied when we have discovered that which we were led to omit, from a fear that the enquiry would be too much protracted.

  ALCIBIADES: What was that?

  SOCRATES: What I meant, when I said that absolute existence must be first considered; but now, instead of absolute existence, we have been considering the nature of individual existence, and this may, perhaps, be sufficient; for surely there is nothing which may be called more properly ourselves than the soul?

  ALCIBIADES: There is nothing.

  SOCRATES: Then we may truly conceive that you and I are conversing with one another, soul to soul?

  ALCIBIADES: Very true.

  SOCRATES: And that is just what I was saying before——that I, Socrates, am not arguing or talking with the face of Alcibiades, but with the real Alcibiades; or in other words, with his soul.

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: Then he who bids a man know himself, would have him know his soul?

  ALCIBIADES: That appears to be true.

  SOCRATES: He whose knowledge only extends to the body, knows the things of a man, and not the man himself?

  ALCIBIADES: That is true.

  SOCRATES: Then neither the physician regarded as a physician, nor the trainer regarded as a trainer, knows himself?

  ALCIBIADES: He does not.

  SOCRATES: The husbandmen and the other craftsmen are very far from knowing themselves, for they would seem not even to know their own belongings? When regarded in relation to the arts which they practise they are even further removed from self-knowledge, for they only know the belongings of the body, which minister to the body.

  ALCIBIADES: That is true.

  SOCRATES: Then if temperance is the knowledge of self, in respect of his art none of them is temperate?

  ALCIBIADES: I agree.

  SOCRATES: And this is the reason why their arts are accounted vulgar, and are not such as a good man would practise?

  ALCIBIADES: Quite true.

  SOCRATES: Again, he who cherishes his body cherishes not himself, but what belongs to him?

  ALCIBIADES: That is true.

  SOCRATES: But he who cherishes his money, cherishes neither himself nor his belongings, but is in a stage yet further removed from himself?

  ALCIBIADES: I agree.

  SOCRATES: Then the money-maker has really ceased to be occupied with his own concerns?

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: And if any one has fallen in love with the person of Alcibiades, he loves not Alcibiades, but the belongings of Alcibiades?

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: But he who loves your soul is the true lover?

  ALCIBIADES: That is the necessary inference.

  SOCRATES: The lover of the body goes away when the flower of youth fades?

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: But he who loves the soul goes not away, as long as the soul follows after virtue?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes.

  SOCRATES: And I am the lover who goes not away, but remains with you, when you are no longer young and the rest are gone?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes, Socrates; and therein you do well, and I hope that you will remain.

  SOCRATES: Then you must try to look your best.

  ALCIBIADES: I will.

  SOCRATES: The fact is, that there is only one lover of Alcibiades the son of Cleinias; there neither is nor ever has been seemingly any other; and he is his darling,——Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus and Phaenarete.

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: And did you not say, that if I had not spoken first, you were on the point of coming to me, and enquiring why I only remained?

  ALCIBIADES: That is true.

  SOCRATES: The reason was that I loved you for your own sake, whereas other men love what belongs to you; and your beauty, which is not you, is fading away, just as your true self is beginning to bloom. And I will never desert you, if you are not spoiled and deformed by the Athenian people; for the danger which I most fear is that you will become a lover of the people and will be spoiled by them. Many a noble Athenian has been ruined in this way. For the demus of the great-hearted Erechteus is of a fair countenance, but you should see him naked; wherefore observe the caution which I give you.

  ALCIBIADES: What caution?

  SOCRATES: Practise yourself, sweet friend, in learning what you ought to know, before you enter on politics; and then you will have an antidote which will keep you out of harm's way.

  ALCIBIADES: Good advice, Socrates, but I wish that you would explain to me in what way I am to take care of myself.

  SOCRATES: Have we not made an advance? for we are at any rate tolerably well agreed as to what we are, and there is no longer any danger, as we once feared, that we might be taking care not of ourselves, but of something which is not ourselves.

  ALCIBIADES: That is true.

  SOCRATES: And the next step will be to take care of the soul, and look to that?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly.

  SOCRATES: Leaving the care of our bodies and of our properties to others?

  ALCIBIADES: Very good.

  SOCRATES: But how can we have a perfect knowledge of the things of the soul?——For if we know them, then I suppose we shall know ourselves. Can we really be ignorant of the excellent meaning of the Delphian inscription, of which we were just now speaking?

  ALCIBIADES: What have you in your thoughts, Socrates?

  SOCRATES: I will tell you what I suspect to be the meaning and lesson of that inscription. Let me take an illustration from sight, which I imagine to be the only one suitable to my purpose.

  ALCIBIADES: What do you mean?

  SOCRATES: Consider; if some one were to say to the eye, 'See thyself,' as you might say to a man, 'Know thyself,' what is the nature and meaning of this precept? Would not his meaning be:——That the eye should look at that in which it would see itself?

  ALCIBIADES: Clearly.

  SOCRATES: And what are the objects in looking at which we see ourselves?

  ALCIBIADES: Clearly, Socrates, in looking at mirrors and the like.

  SOCRATES: Very true; and is there not something of the nature of a mirror in our own eyes?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly.

  SOCRATES: Did you ever observe that the face of the person looking into the eye of another is reflected as in a mirror; and in the visual organ which is over against him, and which is called the pupil, there is a sort of image of the person looking?

  ALCIBIADES: That is quite true.

  SOCRATES: Then the eye, looking at another eye, and at that in the eye which is most perfect, and which is the instrument of vision, will there see itself?

  ALCIBIADES: That is evident.

  SOCRATES: But looking at anything else either in man or in the world, and not to what resembles this, it will not see itself?

  ALCIBIADES: Very true.

  SOCRATES: Then if the eye is to see itself, it must look at the eye, and at that part of the eye where sight which is the virtue of the eye resides?

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: And if the soul, my dear Alcibiades, is ever to know herself, must she not look at the soul; and especially at that part of the soul in which her virtue resides, and to any other which is like this?

  ALCIBIADES: I agree, Socrates.

  SOCRATES: And do we know of any part of our souls more divine than that which has to do with wisdom and knowledge?

  ALCIBIADES: There is none.

  SOCRATES: Then this is that part of the soul which resembles the divine; and he who looks at this and at the whole class of things divine, will be most likely to know himself?

  ALCIBIADES: Clearly.

  SOCRATES: And self-knowledge we agree to be wisdom?

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: But if we have no self-knowledge and no wisdom, can we ever know our own good and evil?

  ALCIBIADES: How can we, Socrates?

  SOCRATES: You mean, that if you did not know Alcibiades, there would be no possibility of your knowing that what belonged to Alcibiades was really his?

  ALCIBIADES: It would be quite impossible.

  SOCRATES: Nor should we know that we were the persons to whom anything belonged, if we did not know ourselves?

  ALCIBIADES: How could we?

  SOCRATES: And if we did not know our own belongings, neither should we know the belongings of our belongings?

  ALCIBIADES: Clearly not.

  SOCRATES: Then we were not altogether right in acknowledging just now that a man may know what belongs to him and yet not know himself; nay, rather he cannot even know the belongings of his belongings; for the discernment of the things of self, and of the things which belong to the things of self, appear all to be the business of the same man, and of the same art.

  ALCIBIADES: So much may be supposed.

  SOCRATES: And he who knows not the things which belong to himself, will in like manner be ignorant of the things which belong to others?

  ALCIBIADES: Very true.

  SOCRATES: And if he knows not the affairs of others, he will not know the affairs of states?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly not.

  SOCRATES: Then such a man can never be a statesman?

  ALCIBIADES: He cannot.

  SOCRATES: Nor an economist?

  ALCIBIADES: He cannot.

  SOCRATES: He will not know what he is doing?

  ALCIBIADES: He will not.

  SOCRATES: And will not he who is ignorant fall into error?

  ALCIBIADES: Assuredly.

  SOCRATES: And if he falls into error will he not fail both in his public and private capacity?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes, indeed.

  SOCRATES: And failing, will he not be miserable?

  ALCIBIADES: Very.

  SOCRATES: And what will become of those for whom he is acting?

  ALCIBIADES: They will be miserable also.

  SOCRATES: Then he who is not wise and good cannot be happy?

  ALCIBIADES: He cannot.

  SOCRATES: The bad, then, are miserable?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes, very.

  SOCRATES: And if so, not he who has riches, but he who has wisdom, is delivered from his misery?

  ALCIBIADES: Clearly.

  SOCRATES: Cities, then, if they are to be happy, do not want walls, or triremes, or docks, or numbers, or size, Alcibiades, without virtue? (Compare Arist. Pol.)

  ALCIBIADES: Indeed they do not.

  SOCRATES: And you must give the citizens virtue, if you mean to administer their affairs rightly or nobly?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly.

  SOCRATES: But can a man give that which he has not?

  ALCIBIADES: Impossible.

  SOCRATES: Then you or any one who means to govern and superintend, not only himself and the things of himself, but the state and the things of the state, must in the first place acquire virtue.

  ALCIBIADES: That is true.

  SOCRATES: You have not therefore to obtain power or authority, in order to enable you to do what you wish for yourself and the state, but justice and wisdom.

  ALCIBIADES: Clearly.

  SOCRATES: You and the state, if you act wisely and justly, will act according to the will of God?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly.

  SOCRATES: As I was saying before, you will look only at what is bright and divine, and act with a view to them?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes.

  SOCRATES: In that mirror you will see and know yourselves and your own good?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes.

  SOCRATES: And so you will act rightly and well?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes.

  SOCRATES: In which case, I will be security for your happiness.

  ALCIBIADES: I accept the security.

  SOCRATES: But if you act unrighteously, your eye will turn to the dark and godless, and being in darkness and ignorance of yourselves, you will probably do deeds of darkness.

  ALCIBIADES: Very possibly.

  SOCRATES: For if a man, my dear Alcibiades, has the power to do what he likes, but has no understanding, what is likely to be the result, either to him as an individual or to the state——for example, if he be sick and is able to do what he likes, not having the mind of a physician——having moreover tyrannical power, and no one daring to reprove him, what will happen to him? Will he not be likely to have his constitution ruined?

  ALCIBIADES: That is true.

  SOCRATES: Or again, in a ship, if a man having the power to do what he likes, has no intelligence or skill in navigation, do you see what will happen to him and to his fellow-sailors?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes; I see that they will all perish.

  SOCRATES: And in like manner, in a state, and where there is any power and authority which is wanting in virtue, will not misfortune, in like manner, ensue?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly.

  SOCRATES: Not tyrannical power, then, my good Alcibiades, should be the aim either of individuals or states, if they would be happy, but virtue.

  ALCIBIADES: That is true.

  SOCRATES: And before they have virtue, to be commanded by a superior is better for men as well as for children? (Compare Arist. Pol.)

  ALCIBIADES: That is evident.

  SOCRATES: And that which is better is also nobler?

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: And what is nobler is more becoming?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly.

  SOCRATES: Then to the bad man slavery is more becoming, because better?

  ALCIBIADES: True.

  SOCRATES: Then vice is only suited to a slave?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes.

  SOCRATES: And virtue to a freeman?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes.

  SOCRATES: And, O my friend, is not the condition of a slave to be avoided?

  ALCIBIADES: Certainly, Socrates.

  SOCRATES: And are you now conscious of your own state? And do you know whether you are a freeman or not?

  ALCIBIADES: I think that I am very conscious indeed of my own state.

  SOCRATES: And do you know how to escape out of a state which I do not even like to name to my beauty?

  ALCIBIADES: Yes, I do.

  SOCRATES: How?

  ALCIBIADES: By your help, Socrates.

  SOCRATES: That is not well said, Alcibiades.

  ALCIBIADES: What ought I to have said?

  SOCRATES: By the help of God.

  ALCIBIADES: I agree; and I further say, that our relations are likely to be reversed. From this day forward, I must and will follow you as you have followed me; I will be the disciple, and you shall be my master.

  SOCRATES: O that is rare! My love breeds another love: and so like the stork I shall be cherished by the bird whom I have hatched.

  ALCIBIADES: Strange, but true; and henceforward I shall begin to think about justice.

  SOCRATES: And I hope that you will persist; although I have fears, not because I doubt you; but I see the power of the state, which may be too much for both of us.

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