(链接:The Big Questions 边读边评:一(共二)


Take an example. Suppose American manufacturers sell dig-
ital cameras for $100 each. One day a new Chinese supplier
starts offering identical cameras for $75. Now each American
seller faces an unpleasant choice: Match the Chinese price or
lose your customers.

Suppose for the moment that everyone decides to match the
Chinese price, and let's tote up the gains and losses to Ameri-
cans. If you're buying a camera, the Chinese just saved you $25.
If I'm selling you that camera, the Chinese just cost me $25.
Your gain equals my loss. In toto, we're neither more nor less
prosperous than before.

If that were the end of the story, the gains and losses from
foreign trade would wash out. But the story goes on. I'm not so
happy selling cameras at $75, so I'll start considering alterna-
tives. Maybe I'll switch to making cell phones. Maybe I'll retire
early and devote the rest of my life to playing World ofWarcraft.
Whatever I decide, my decision cannot make me additionally worse
off, because it's voluntary. If getting out of the camera business
made me worse off, I'd stay in the camera business.



To a true believer, what purpose could such dialogues pos-
sibly serve? At the end of the evening, does anyone ever switch
religions? Or do they simply present opposing viewpoints ("Jesus
died on the cross for our sins," "Jesus ascended bodily into
heaven," "Jesus was an ordinary mortal"), after which everyone
nods sagely and then goes home? That's not how people act when
they actually believe they're right. In my experience, if you fill a
room with people who have conflicting beliefs about important
matters of fact, they don't leave until they've either figured out
who's right or collapsed from exhaustion.


But if they disagree about the capital of South Dakota,
neither etiquette nor common practice requires them to hold
their tongues. They offer evidence; they try to figure out who's
mistaken, and if anything important hangs in the balance, they
keep at it till they've resolved the matter. If they disagreed about
the divinity of Jesus, I'd expect them to do the same-unless,
of course, the disagreement is all for show in the first place, in
which case they might as well move on to some equally unim-
portant topic.


在我看来,我和某人的关系不值得因所谓「信仰」的争论而变得不好。在此书作者看来,我(i.e. 本人) 不去真的投入去争论「信仰」问题是因为我自己事实到底怎样子的。

可是从另一角度看,别人 不/不感兴趣 跟我进行 争论/真正的讨论 的原因虽然可能是跟我(对称地)相同,但是也可能是因为其人对于这个事情根本就「不看重」或者「不虔诚」。



There you see the paradox: People who are deeply curi-
ous about the origins of species, the nature of consciousness,
the nature of mental illness, and so on will tend to be aware of
those errors and hence tend to reject religion. People who are
not deeply curious about those things might embrace religion,
but they cannot embrace it deeply, because they're not really
interested in the things that religion is about. Who's left to be


Unless you are an expert in mathematical logic, you probably
have no idea how to prove the consistency of arithmetic, and
if you are an expert in mathematical logic, then you are well
aware that any such proof relies on principles that are no easier
to accept than the conclusion itself--so that if you're willing to
buy the proof, you might as well just skip ahead and buy the
conclusion. 2 In other words, your perception of consistency does
not rely on proof. If it does not rely on proof, it surely cannot
rely on having seen or heard a proof. In other words, it is purely

要是我没有学习过数学,某人怎么能 推断/证明 我能够「感知」到 "2+2=4" 呢?我想,我不通过任何「感知」是能够「学会」「数学」的。而且,即便我还真就「悟出」了 "2+2=4",此人又是怎么 得知/证明 的呢?


又或者,这本书无非也就这样了。讨论大问题的貌似基本只有第一个部分——当然这也有可能是因我没有努力读后面三个部分所造成的错觉——而后面的部分讲的其实多少应该算是更为 面向生活/务实 的内容。换句话说,此书的抽象层次在递减。


不过,我感觉作者的主观性是十分强的。有的地方强得有理据;有的地方我就未免感到其有点牵强。总的来说,此书的好处是在于故事讲得够好听,能够让我这种没什么 动力/心思/耐心 看书的人也算是津津有味地看完了,而且也有(虽少量的)收获。