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‘Happiness is the ultimate goal because it is self-evidently good. If we are asked why happiness matters we can give no further external reason. It just obviously does matter.’ This pronouncement by Richard Layard, an economist and advocate of ‘positive psychology’, summarises the beliefs of many people today. For Layard and others like him, it is obvious that the purpose of government is to promote a state of collective well-being. The only question is how to achieve it, and here positive psychology – a supposed science that not only identifies what makes people happy but also allows their happiness to be measured – can show the way. Equipped with this science, they say, governments can secure happiness in society in a way they never could in the past.

“幸福是最终目标,因为它不证自明就是好的。如果我们被问到为什么幸福重要,我们并不需要给出更进一步的外部理由。很明显,它就是很重要“。作为经济学家和积极心理学的倡导者,Richard Layard的这一言论概括了许多当代人的想法。对于Layard和其他像他一样的人来说,很明显,政府的目的是促进一种共同幸福的状态。唯一的问题是如何实现它。而积极心理学则提供了路径。这门所谓的科学不仅界定什么会让人们感到幸福,而且还让他们的幸福可以被衡量。他们说,有了这门科学之后,政府就能够以一种前所未有的方式来确保社会幸福感。


It is an astonishingly crude and simple-minded way of thinking, and for that very reason increasingly popular. Those who think in this way are oblivious to the vast philosophical literature in which the meaning and value of happiness have been explored and questioned, and write as if nothing of any importance had been thought on the subject until it came to their attention. It was the philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) who was more than anyone else responsible for the development of this way of thinking. For Bentham it was obvious that the human good consists of pleasure and the absence of pain. The Greek philosopher Aristotle may have identified happiness with self-realisation in the 4th century BC, and thinkers throughout the ages may have struggled to reconcile the pursuit of happiness with other human values, but for Bentham all this was mere metaphysics or fiction. Without knowing anything much of him or the school of moral theory he established – since they are by education and intellectual conviction illiterate in the history of ideas – our advocates of positive psychology follow in his tracks in rejecting as outmoded and irrelevant pretty much the entirety of ethical reflection on human happiness to date.

这种粗糙而简单的思考方式令人震惊。但正是因为这一原因,它越来越流行。那些以这种方式思考的人对丰富的哲学文献(在其中幸福的含义和价值已经被探索和拷问)视而不见,并且以一种在他们注意到该问题之前,其重要性从未被思考过的方式进行写作。哲学家Jeremy Bentham(1748-1832)比其他任何人都更应该为这种思考方式的发展负责。对于Bentham来说,很明显,人类的幸福包含愉悦以及痛苦的缺失。在公元前4世纪的时候,希腊哲学家亚里士多德或许认为幸福与自我实现有关。在其之后年代的哲学家似乎努力协调追求幸福与其他人类价值之间的关系。但对于Bentham来说,所有这些都是玄学或者虚构的东西。尽管对他自身以及他所建立的道德理论学派不甚了解(他们受到教育和确定信念的影响,对思想史一无所知),积极心理学的倡导者追随他的足迹,认为到目前为止对人类幸福的所有道德反思都都已经过时并且毫不相关。


But as William Davies notes in his recent book The Happiness Industry, the view that happiness is the only self-evident good is actually a way of limiting moral inquiry. One of the virtues of this rich, lucid and arresting book is that it places the current cult of happiness in a well-defined historical framework. Rightly, Davies begins his story with Bentham, noting that he was far more than a philosopher. Davies writes, ‘Bentham’s activities were those which we might now associate with a public sector management consultant’. In the 1790s, he wrote to the Home Office suggesting that the departments of government be linked together through a set of ‘conversation tubes’, and to the Bank of England with a design for a printing device that could produce unforgeable banknotes. He drew up plans for a ‘frigidarium’ to keep provisions such as meat, fish, fruit and vegetables fresh. His celebrated design for a prison to be known as a ‘Panopticon’, in which prisoners would be kept in solitary confinement while being visible at all times to the guards, was very nearly adopted. (Surprisingly, Davies does not discuss the fact that Bentham meant his Panopticon not just as a model prison but also as an instrument of control that could be applied to schools and factories.)

但正如Williams Davies在他最近的《幸福产业》一书中指出的那样,认为幸福是种不证自明的善实际上是一种限制道德追问的方式。这本书内容丰富,观点清晰文章来自老烤鸭雅思且非常有趣。它的优点之一在于它将当下对幸福的狂热放入定义清晰的历史框架中。Davies恰如其分的以Bentham开始他的故事,指出他不仅仅是个哲学家。Davies写到:“我们现在或许会将Bentham的行为与一名公共部门管理顾问联系在一起。”。他在18世纪90年代给内政部写信,建议政府部门通过一组“对话管道”联系在一起。他还给英格兰银行写信,附带一份印刷装置的设计。该装置可以生产无法被伪造的纸币。他起草了“冷藏室”计划,以便保持肉类、鱼类、水果和蔬菜等饮食供应的新鲜。他设计的“圆形监狱”差一点就被采纳。在这里,犯人被囚禁在单独的牢房中,并一直可以被守卫看到(令人惊艳的是,Davies并没有讨论如下事实。Bentham认为他的圆形监狱不仅可以被当作监狱的模板,而且可以作为管控工具用于学校和工厂)。


Bentham was also a pioneer of the ‘science of happiness’. If happiness is to be regarded as a science, it has to be measured, and Bentham suggested two ways in which this might be done. Viewing happiness as a complex of pleasurable sensations, he suggested that it might be quantified by measuring the human pulse rate. Alternatively, money could be used as the standard for quantification: if two different goods have the same price, it can be claimed that they produce the same quantity of pleasure in the consumer. Bentham was more attracted by the latter measure. By associating money so closely to inner experience, Davies writes, Bentham ‘set the stage for the entangling of psychological research and capitalism that would shape the business practices of the twentieth century’.



The Happiness Industry describes how the project of a science of happiness has become integral to capitalism. We learn much that is interesting about how economic problems are being redefined and treated as psychological maladies. In addition, Davies shows how the belief that inner states of pleasure and displeasure can be objectively measured has informed management studies and advertising. The tendency of thinkers such as J B Watson, the founder of behaviourism, was that human beings could be shaped, or manipulated, by policymakers and managers. Watson had no factual basis for his view of human action. When he became president of the American Psychological Association in 1915, he ‘had never even studied a single human being’: his research had been confined to experiments on white rats. Yet Watson’s reductive model is now widely applied, with ‘behaviour change’ becoming the goal of governments: in Britain, a ‘Behaviour Insights Team’ has been established by the government to study how people can be encouraged, at minimum cost to the public purse, to live in what are considered to be socially desirable ways.

《幸福产业》描述了辛福科学如何成为资本主义不可或缺的一部分。我们会了解到许多关于经济问题如何被重新定义为心理问题并进行处理的有趣现象。此外,Dvaies还展示了愉悦或者不愉悦的内心状态可以被客观测量的想法是如何影响管理研究和广告的。诸如行为主义的创始人J B Watson这样的思想家认为,政策制定者或者管理者可以塑造或操控人类。Watson有关人类行为的观点并没有任何事实依据。当他在1915年成为美国心理协会主席的时候,他“从来都没有研究过任何一个人类个体”。他的研究局限于小白鼠实验。然而,随着“行为改变”成为政府的目标,Watson的简化模型现在被广泛使用。在英国,政府建立“行为透视团队”来研究如何用最少的公共资金来鼓励人们以一种社会认可的方式生活。


Modem industrial societies appear to need the possibility of ever-increasing happiness to motivate them in their labours. But whatever its intellectual pedigree, the idea that governments should be responsible for promoting happiness is always a threat to human freedom.


剑桥雅思13Test4Passage1阅读原文翻译 Cutty Sark: the fastest sailing ship of all time 卡蒂萨克号帆船

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