爱因斯坦:我的信仰(中英)

Albert Einstein, Nobel Prize photo, 1921

Albert Einstein, Nobel Prize photo, 1921

1930年夏天,爱因斯坦在卡普思航海和反思期间,试图把他关于自己「人生信仰」的想法清楚地表达出来。于是,他写下了以下文字:

我们这些总有一死的人的命运是多么奇特呀!我们每个人在这个世界上都只作一个短暂的逗留;目的何在,却无所知,尽管有时自以为对此若有所感。但是,不必深思,只要从日常生活就可以明白:人是为别人而生存的——首先是为那样一些人,他们的喜悦和健康关系着我们自己的全部幸福;然后是为许多我们所不认识的人,他们的命运通过同情的纽带同我们密切结合在一起。我每天上百次地提醒自己:我的精神生活和物质生活都依靠别人(包括活着的人和死去的人)的劳动,我必须尽力以同样的分量来报偿我所领受了的和至今还在领受的东西。我强烈地向往着简朴的生活,我认为阶级的区分是不合理的,它最后所凭借的是以暴力为根据。我也相信,简单淳朴的生活,无论在身体上还是在精神上,对每个人都是有益的。

我完全不相信人类会有那种在哲学意义上的自由。每一个人的行为,不仅受着外界的强迫,而且还要适应内心的必然。叔本华(Schopenhauer)说,“人能够做他想做的,但不能要他所想要的。”这句话从我青年时代起,就对我是一个非常真实的启示;在自己和别人生活面临困难的时候,它总是使我得到安慰,并且永远是宽容的源泉。这种体会可以宽大为怀地减轻那种容易使人气馁的责任感,也可以防止我们过于严肃地对待自己和别人;它还导致一种特别给幽默以应有地位的人生观。

要追究一个人自己或一切生物生存的意义或目的,从客观的观点看来,我总觉得是愚蠢可笑的。可是每个人都有一定的理想,这种理想决定着他的努力和判断的方向。就在这个意义上,我从来不把安逸和快乐看作是生活目的本身——这种伦理基础,我叫他猪栏的理想。照亮我的道路,并且不断地给我新的勇气去愉快地正视生活的理想,是善、美和真。要是没有志同道合者之间的亲切感情,要不是全神贯注于客观世界——那个在科学与艺术工作领域永远达不到的对象,那么在我看来,生活就会是空虚的。人们所努力追求的庸俗的目标——财产、虚荣、奢侈的生活——我总觉得都是可鄙的。

我对社会正义和社会责任的强烈感觉,同我显然的对别人和社会直接接触的冷漠,两者总是形成古怪的对照。我实在是一个“孤独的旅客”,我未曾全心全意地属于我的国家、我的家庭、我的朋友,甚至我最接近的亲人;在所有这些关系面前,我总是感觉到有一定距离并且需要保持孤独——而这种感受正与年俱增。人们会清楚地发觉,同别人的相互了解和协调一致是有限度的,但这不足惋惜。这样的人无疑有点失去他的天真无邪和无忧无虑的心境;但另一方面,他却能够在很大程度上不为别人的意见、习惯和判断所左右,并且能够不受诱惑要去把他的内心平衡建立在这样一些不可靠的基础之上。

我的政治理想是民主主义。让每一个人都作为个人而受到尊重,而不让任何人成为崇拜的偶像。我自己受到了人们过分的赞扬和尊敬,这不是由于我自己的过错,也不是由于我自己的功劳,而实在是一种命运的嘲弄。其原因大概在于人们有一种愿望,想理解我以自己的微薄绵力通过不断的斗争所获得的少数几个观念,而这种愿望有很多人却未能实现。我完全明白,一个组织要实现它的目的,就必须有一个人去思考,去指挥,并且全面担负起责任来。但是被领导的人不应该受到强迫,他们必须有可能来选择自己的领袖。在我看来,强迫的专制制度很快就会腐化堕落。因为暴力所招引来的总是一些品德低劣的人,而且我相信,天才的暴君总是由无赖来继承,这是一条千古不易的规律。就是这个缘故,我总是强烈地反对今天我们在意大利和俄国所见到的那种制度。象欧洲今天所存在的情况,使得民主形式受到了怀疑,这不能归咎于民主原则本身,而是由于政府的不稳定和选举中与个人无关的特征。我相信美国在这方面已经找到了正确的道路。他们选出一个任期足够长的总统,他有充分的权力来真正履行他的职责。另一方面在德国的政治制度中,我所重视的是,它为救济患病或贫困的人作出了比较广泛的规定。在人类生活的壮丽行列中,我觉得真正可贵的,不是政治上的国家,而是有创造性的、有感情的个人,是人格;只有个人才能创造出高尚的和卓越的东西,而群众本身在思想上总是迟钝的,在感觉上也是迟钝的。

讲到这里,我想起了群众生活中最坏的一种表现,那就是使我所厌恶的军事制度。一个人能够洋洋得意地随着军乐队在四列纵队里行进,单凭这一点就足以使我对他轻视。他所以长了一个大脑,只是出于误会;单单一根脊髓就可以满足他的全部需要了。文明国家的这种罪恶渊薮应当尽快加以消灭。由命令而产生的勇敢行为,毫无意义的暴行,以及在爱国主义名义下一切可恶的胡闹,所有这些都使我深恶痛绝!在我看来,战争是多么卑鄙、下流!我宁愿被千刀万刮,也不愿参与这种可憎的勾当。尽管如此,我对人类的评价还是十分高的,我相信,要是人民的健康感情没有被那些通过学校和报纸而起作用的商业利益和政治利益加以有计划的破坏,那么战争这个妖魔早就该绝迹了。

我们所能有的最美好的经验是神秘的经验。它是坚守在真正艺术和真正科学发源地上的基本感情。谁要是体验不到它,谁要是不再有好奇心也不再有惊讶的感觉,他就无异于行尸走肉,他的眼睛是迷糊不清的。就是这种神秘的经验——虽然掺杂着恐怖——产生了宗教。我们认识到某种为我们所不能洞察的东西存在,感觉到那种只能以其最原始的形式为我们所感受到的最深奥的理性和最灿烂的美——正是这种认识和这种情感构成了真正的宗教感情;在这个意义上,而且也只是在这个意义上,我才是一个具有深挚宗教感情的人。我无法想象一个会对自己的创造物加以赏罚的上帝,也无法想象它会有象在我们自己身上所体验到的那样一种意志。我自己只求满足于生命永恒的奥秘,满足于觉察现存世界的神奇结构,窥见它的一鳞半爪,并且以诚挚的努力去领悟在自然界中显示出来的那个理性的一部分,即使只是其极小的一部分,我也就心满意足了。

——此文最初发表在1930年出版的《论坛和世纪》(Forum and century)84卷,193-194页。当时用的标题是「我的信仰」(What I believe)。这里译自《思想和见解》8-11页和《我的世界观》英译本237-242页,许良英、赵中立、张宜三编译,选自商务印书馆《爱因斯坦文集第三卷》。

Rabindranath_with_Einstein

愛因斯坦和泰戈尔, 1930年

THE WORLD AS I SEE IT 

by Albert Einstein, 1931

What an extraordinary situation is that of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he feels it. But from the point of view of daily life, without going deeper, we exist for our fellow-men — in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with whose destinies we are bound up by the tie of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. I am strongly drawn to the simple life and am often oppressed by the feeling that I am engrossing an unnecessary amount of the labour of my fellow-men. I regard class differences as contrary to justice and, in the last resort, based on force. I also consider that plain living is good for everybody, physically and mentally.

In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever. Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth up, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life, my own and others’. This feeling mercifully mitigates the sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralyzing, and it prevents us from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of life in which humour, above all, has its due place.

To inquire after the meaning or object of one’s own existence or of creation generally has always seemed to me absurd from an objective point of view. And yet everybody has certain ideals which determine the direction of his endeavours and his judgments. In this sense I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — such an ethical basis I call more proper for a herd of swine. The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind, of preoccupation with the objective, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific research, life would have seemed to me empty. The ordinary objects of human endeavour — property, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.

My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced freedom from the need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I gang my own gait and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties I have never lost an obstinate sense of detachment, of the need for solitude — a feeling which increases with the tears. One is sharply conscious, yet without regret, of the limits to the possibility of mutual understanding and sympathy with one’s fellow-creatures. Such a person no doubt loses something in the way of geniality and light-heartedness; on the other hand, he is largely independent of the opinions, habits, and judgments of his fellows and avoids the temptation to take his stand on such insecure foundations.

My political ideal is that of democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration and respect from my fellows through no fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire, unattainable for many, to understand the one or two ideas to which I have with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware that it is necessary for the success of any complex undertaking that one man should do the thinking and directing and in general bear the responsibility. But the led must not be compelled, they must be able to choose their leader. An autocratic system of coercion, in my opinion, soon degenerates. For force always attracts men of low morality, and I believe it to be an invariable rule that tyrants of genius are succeeded by scoundrels. For this reason I have always been passionately opposed to systems such as we see in Italy and Russia to-day. The thing that has brought discredit upon the prevailing form of democracy in Europe to-day is not to be laid to the door of the democratic idea as such, but to lack of stability on the part of the heads of governments and to the impersonal character of the electoral system. I believe that in this respect the United States of America have found the right way. They have a responsible President who is elected for a sufficiently long period and has sufficient powers to be really responsible. On the other hand, what I value in our political system is the more extensive provision that it makes for the individual in case of illness or need. The really valuable thing in a pageant of human life seems to me not the State but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.

This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military system, which I abhor. That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him. He has only been given his big brain by mistake; a backbone was all he needed. This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such an abominable business. And yet so high, in spite of everything, is my opinion of the human race that I believe this bogey would have disappeared long ago, had the sound sense of the nations not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interests acting through the schools and the Press.

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms — it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavour to comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.

Reference: EINSTEIN: THE WORLD AS I SEE IT (1931)

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