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你愿意和他人交换人生吗?

更新时间:2017-7-21 10:47:17 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

If You Could Be Someone Else, Would You?
你愿意和他人交换人生吗?

Have you ever looked at someone else’s life with envy, just enough envy that you wish for a moment or two (or longer) that you could be them? Michelle Obama with her combination of grace and passion; George Clooney with his stylish attractiveness and ironic humor; Usain Bolt or Lionel Messi or some other icon of sport.

你有没有带着艳羡之情关注过别人的生活,以至于你有片刻时间(或者更长时间)希望自己可以成为他们?既优雅又充满激情的米歇尔·奥巴马(Michelle Obama);时尚迷人而又擅长讽刺幽默的乔治·克鲁尼;还有尤赛恩·博尔特(Usain Bolt)或利昂内尔·梅西(Lionel Messi)这些体育明星。

Or maybe somebody not famous, just someone you know who seems to have a charmed life: a challenging and gratifying job, a warm and attractive spouse, a spacious apartment with a nice view (and yes, a habit of getting pre-check when they travel). Are there moments when, if the opportunity to be them were on offer, you might be tempted by it?

又或者只是你认识的一些普通人,但他们似乎拥有迷人的生活:一份富有挑战性和令人满意的工作;一个温暖迷人的伴侣;景色不错的宽敞公寓(是的,还有旅行时进行提前安检的好习惯)。有些时候,如果有机会成为他们,你能经受这种诱惑吗?

Would we really want this? And what might we learn about ourselves or how we see our lives if we seriously considered it?

这真是我们想要的吗?如果认真思考这件事,我们是否可以了解一些关于自己,或者关于我们如何看待自己人生的东西?

To be sure, there are complications here. If you had someone else’s life, who would raise your children or love your spouse or take care of your parents in their old age? In fact, if you were someone else your own children would not have come into existence in the first place. That’s not a happy thought. To address this, perhaps the best way to cast this is in terms of a trade: If you had their life then they would have yours, and live it exactly as you would have. Your responsibilities would be covered, so there would be nothing to feel guilty about.

可以肯定的是,这里面有一些难题。如果你拥有了别人的生活,谁来养育你的孩子、爱你的配偶,或是照顾你年迈的父母呢?事实上,如果你成了别人,你自己的孩子就不会成为现实。这不是一个让人高兴的想法。为了解决这个问题,也许最好的办法就是互换:如果你拥有了他们的人生,那么他们也会拥有你的人生,完完全全就像你这样生活。你的责任将会有人承担,所以没有什么可内疚的。

If we think of it this way, then the question of wanting to be someone else is a question of what we might call experience: Is there anybody else whose experience of life you would prefer, assuming everything else would be equal?

如果我们这样想,那么,想成为别人的问题就成了我们所谓的“体验”问题:假设其他一切都是平等的,你会不会更喜欢其他人的生活体验呢?

One immediate reservation about wanting someone else’s experience is that my desire to be someone else (i.e., have his experience) is grounded in values and desires that I have, and so I have to be me in order to want to be him. However, it’s not clear that that presents any real hurdle to such a desire. I could say that it is precisely by my own lights that the experience of being them would be better, and that there would be at least enough overlap with them that they are instantiating my values and desires but have a better experience than I do. So I can still prefer to be them.

关于想要拥有他人体验的想法,人们马上会产生这样一个保留意见:我渴望成为别人(也就是说,拥有他的体验),这个愿望是建立在我所拥有的价值观和愿望的基础之上,所以我必须先成为“我”,然后才能成为他。然而,这种前提不一定是实现这种愿望的真正障碍。我可以说,正是由于我自身的看法,才会感觉“成为他们”这种体验会更好,“我”与他们之间至少有足够的相同之处,所以会感到他们正在实现我的价值观和欲望,但是比我做得更好。所以我仍然更想成为他们。

Alternatively, it might be said that I don’t really know anyone else well enough to know whether they really have those values and desires. The idea would be that I don’t know enough about others to know whether I would trade experiences with them. But one could still argue that inasmuch as I have a familiarity with another person I would want to be them.

或者还有另一种保留意见,我其实并不足够了解别人,不知道他们是否真的有这些价值观和欲望。也就是说,我不够了解别人,不足以知道我是否会愿意同他们交换体验。但是人们仍然可以争辩说,只要我真正熟悉了另一个人,我就可以希望成为他。

I think that, on reflection, most of us would not want to trade with another person, no matter how successful or enticing their lives seem — or even are in reality. To see why, though, we’ll need to switch our angle of vision. We will have to look at our own experiences rather than at theirs, or perhaps look at our experiences first. What would I be willing to give up to be another? My relationships with everyone — children, spouse, friends — and my whole history. I wouldn’t have undergone it. My loss would be that of the whole of my own experience.

经过深思熟虑,我认为,我们大多数人并不想同另一个人交换,无论他们的生活看上去有多么成功或诱人——甚至是真的有那么成功和诱人。不过,为了解释其中的原因,我们需要改变自己的视角。我们必须审视自己的体验,而不是他们的体验,或者说,首先审视我们自身的体验。为了成为他人,我愿意放弃什么呢?我与身边的人——孩子,配偶,朋友——的关系,以及我的全部历史吗?我不愿经历这种事。我的损失可能意味着我自身的全部体验。

To be sure, there are people who have had extraordinarily difficult lives. For them a trade of their experience for another’s might well be worth it. But how many of us find ourselves there, at that extreme?

可以肯定的是,有些人过着非常艰难的生活。对他们来说,同另一个人交换体验可能是值得的。但是我们当中有多少人处于那样的极端境地呢?

I have a particular history with people that I care about. Of course, the person I’ve traded with would also have cared about them, and in the same way, so what I would have done for their sake will be done. But that history of my own experience is gone. Instead I’ve had a history with another set of people that I don’t know as well as the people I’ve had relationships with. What would that have been like? I can’t really tell. Perhaps the person has a job they enjoy and is comfortable financially and is popular or beautiful. But are those differences from me deep enough for me to want to trade?

我和我所关心的人们拥有一段特别的历史。当然,跟我交换的那个人也会关心他们,同样地,我也会为和我交换的人做同样的事。但是,我自身体验的那段历史就这样消失了。相反,我会和另外一群人拥有一段历史,我对这群人的了解却远不及之前同我有联系的那群人。这是什么样的感受?我真的说不清。也许这个人有一份自己喜欢的工作、在经济上颇为优渥、很受欢迎,或是有着很好的外貌。但是他同我之间的这些差异是否真有那么大,大到我愿意同他交换呢?

At that level it’s like asking whether I would trade the experiences of my deepest attachments for some goods that don’t seem as important as the relationships. The exact trade would instead be the experience of my attachments for their surface amenities plus the important stuff — stuff I’m not so familiar with in their case.

在这个层面上,就好像询问我,是否会愿意将自己最深刻的感情体验拿出去交换一些似乎不像亲密关系那样重要的商品。这项交换其实是用我的情感体验去交换他们表面上的好处,再加上一件重要的东西——我对他们所不熟悉的东西。

Looked at this way, such a trade begins to seem a lot less promising.

这样看来,这样的交易似乎前景不太光明。

One objection, though, might be that as long as their relationships are good ones — ones that they have enjoyed experiencing — I don’t need to know exactly what they are like. But this objection has a difficulty: Even if those experiences are good ones, would they be the ones I would want to trade for? Here is where my own values and desires, the ones I have developed over the course of my life, really begin to show their force. The experiences that I value in my life stem not simply from the fact of enjoyment but from the fact that those were the experiences I value. And I value them because of who I am.

不过,反对意见可能是这样的,只要他们的亲密关系是好的——只要他们享受从这些关系中体验到的——那么我不需要知道那些关系到底是什么样的。但这个反对意见也有困难之处:就算这些体验是好的,它们会是我想交换的体验吗?我拥有自己的价值观和愿望,是我在自己的人生中逐渐形成的,它们已经真切地显现出自己的力量。我在人生中所珍惜的体验不仅仅来自于享受快乐,而是来自于这样一个事实:这些体验的确是我所珍惜的。正因为我是这样的我,所以才会珍惜它们。

So the issue is not just that the experiences of the other person are good ones, but above and beyond that, that they are the kind of good experiences that I would want to have, and want to have enough that I would trade in my own for them. The experiences of the other would have to be a lot like my experiences — i.e., the ones that are most important to me — in order to be candidates for a trade.

所以这个问题不仅仅是关于对方的体验是不是好的体验,而是除了这些以外,在此之上,这些体验是不是我想拥有的那种好的体验,我是不是真的那么想拥有这些体验,以至于愿意用我自己的体验来交换它们。我纳入交换备选名单的他人体验可能必须要同我自身的体验有很多相似之处——比如说那些对我来说最为重要的体验。

And that seems not only something I can’t know but also something that may not be very likely.

这似乎不仅是我所不知道的事情,也是不太可能发生的事情。

Moreover, we go through many experiences that are difficult with people we care about and do not regret having done so. For instance, when one’s child has social difficulties or a friend loses a job, it is not only arduous for them to go through, but we also experience sympathetic pain as we accompany them through their struggles. We would rather they hadn’t had to deal with those problems. Given that they did have to, though, we want to have been there to support them. We don’t want someone else to have been there. We want to have been there ourselves, even though it was not a joyous experience for us.

此外,我们与自己在乎的人相处时会有很多并不愉快的体验,却并不会对此感到遗憾。例如,当一个孩子有社交障碍,或者一个朋友丢掉工作的时候,不只他们不好过,我们在陪伴他们克服困难之际,也会对他们的痛苦感同身受。我们多希望他们不必应对这些问题。不过,如果他们不得不应对,我们愿意陪伴左右,给他们以支持。我们并不希望陪在他们身旁的是其他什么人。我们希望在场的是我们自己,尽管对我们来说那不是什么愉快的体验。

Of course we would prefer that they hadn’t had those experiences in the first place. But that is more for their sake than for ours. Given that they did have those experiences, we would have chosen to undergo our own unpleasant experiences alongside them. Moreover, to the extent that such experiences were burdensome to us, we might have also preferred for our own sake that they had not occurred, but that is a more trivial issue. It is an issue of how our lives have gone in particular unpleasant moments and not an argument for trading lives. The argument for trading lives would have to be based on a willingness not to have had the relationship at all, with whatever adversities it entailed.

当然了,我们首先宁愿他们没有这些遭遇,但那更多地是为他们着想,而非为我们自己。如果他们的确遭遇了这些,那我们会选择忍受自己的不愉快体验,陪着他们。不过,如果此类体验对我们来说难以承受到了某种程度,我们或许也会为自己着想,宁愿这些事情没发生过,但那是一个更为细琐的问题。是在极为不愉快的时刻我们的生活如何继续的问题,而不是交换生活的理由。交换生活的理由应该基于这样一种意愿:宁可根本不存在这段带来不利境况的关系。

When I ask about trading my life for that of another, I’m looking from my perspective and asking whether I would want to have the particular quality of relationships that the other has. And, whatever that quality is, it is likely to differ from the quality of my own relationships, relationships that are deeply meaningful to me. I’m comparing what I value in my own experience with what I value in an experience the most significant features of which lie outside my grasp. Once we see this, for most of us a trade, even if we could have one, would not likely be in the offing.

当我自问是否愿意和另一个人交换人生的时候,其实是从自己的视角出发,问自己是否想要拥有为其他人所有的那些关系的品质。不管那是什么样的品质,可能都不同于我自己的、对我来说具有深刻意义的种种关系的品质。我正拿自己看重的两种东西作比较,一种源于我自己的体验,另一种则源于所有最重要的特征都在我掌控之外的体验。一旦认清这一点,对我们大多数人来说,交换人生这种事情——即便真的可以交换——便很可能不会发生了。

We live in world in which the lives of those with more wealth or fame or recognition or influence or beauty are constantly placed before us as though they were something to aspire to. And, of course, there is nothing wrong with aspiration in itself. But to the extent these lives are presented to us as something to be hankered after, as lives we would certainly want if only we could have them, we are presented with an image that asks us to forget what is important to us. In an age of acquisitiveness, and one moreover in which the normative constraints on acquisitiveness have largely fallen away, it is comforting — and perhaps even imperative — to recognize that of all the personal histories that we might choose from, it is our own that would be our likely choice.

在我们生活的世界里,那些更富有、更知名、更受认可、更有影响力或更美貌之人的生活常常被摆在我们面前,仿佛是我们渴望拥有的某种东西。当然了,渴望本身并没有错。但当这些人的生活作为我们的心之所向、作为我们如果有能力肯定想要拥有的东西被呈现给我们的时候,我们面对的其实是一幅要求我们忘记什么对我们来说才最重要的图景。在一个贪婪占据着人心的时代,一个对贪念的规范化约束基本已土崩瓦解的时代,意识到如果从所有个人历史当中加以选择,我们有可能选择的是自己的历史,这会让人感到安慰,或许也势在必行。

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