Erskine, John: “The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent”

John Erskine, the “father” of the Great Books movement.

I

智慧是美德吗?

II

古老的Anglo-Saxon文化传统中,智慧和美德是互相排斥的。 Reason and God are not on good terms with each other — full mind, starved heart—stout heart, weak head.

莎士比亚、弥尔顿笔下的人物多不同时具有智慧与美德。

英国作家笔下的小人物多滑稽可笑却也令人钦佩;而法国作家,如巴尔扎克,写的小人物多命运悲惨,让人同情可怜。

III

Whereas the notable Greek seems typical of his race, the notable Englishman usually seems an exception to his own people, and is often best appreciated in other lands. (也是墙里开花墙外香。)

Byron, Shelley, and Spenser 具有智慧与美德,却又常常为英国人所忽视。

崇尚品质与美德的历史渊源:寒冷的气候,恶劣的环境,坚持、勇敢者较智者更容易生存;一个人需要信守诺言,以言论为行为做后盾。

It is the moral obligation of an intelligent creature to find out as far as possible whether a given action leads to a good or bad end; and that any system of ethics that excuses him from that obligation is vicious. (这句怎么推过来的,没看懂)

【Matthew Arnold】 The purpose of culture is to make reason and the will of God prevail.  可是我们需要先知道 what is the will of God.

没有智慧的勇敢是愚蠢的, 如在冰山旁开足马力行使的船。

IV

大英文化是其他许多文明的继承者——罗马、法国、意大利、希腊。 With each would-tide some love of pure intelligence was washed up on English Shores, and enriched the soil, and here and there the old stock marvelled at its own progeny.

美国是移民国家,来自世界各地的文化挤压着大英文化,并与先期到来希腊文明相会合。

希腊文明崇尚知识,具有科学精神。Sin and misery are the fruit of ignorance and to know is to achieve virtue.

追随智慧的新主人,与老阵营冲突,the fight is on.

Between this rising host that follow intelligence, and the old camp that put their trust in a stout heart, a firm will, and a strong hand, the fight is on.

对于现代社会,勇气与坚定我们需要,但 intelligence is the virtue we particularly need.

V

智慧,是神的旨意,美德的另一面,与宗教不冲突。

人在智慧中发现自我,也发现美德。

Let us cultivate insight.

(GGB, Vol. 10, pp. 5-13)

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