一個不容易回答的問題 ~ A Difficult Question

September 28th was Confucius’s birthday. The President of Taiwan and I (and a few hundred other people) celebrated at a dawn ceremony at the Taipei Confucius Temple. More on that tomorrow, but today I’ve translated a tale from my textbook that I liked. I should print this and post it so it can wave at me in warning when I write.

一個不容易回答的問題
孔子遊歷各國的時候,經過一個地方,看見路旁有兩個小孩兒,站在那裡爭論。當時孔子坐在車上,距離他們相當遠,聼不清他們講些什麽。只見他們爭得面紅耳赤,説話的聲音越來越大,幾乎要動武了。孔子下了車,走到他們面前,想為他們排解排解。他問他們說:「你們爲了什麽事爭吵啊?」
一個小孩兒說:「老公公,您是誰?您懂的事情一定比我們多,請您給我們評評理吧!」
孔子說:「我是魯國的孔丘。先告訴我,你們究竟爲什麽爭論?」
另一個小孩兒說:「您既然是孔子,就一定能給我們解決這個問題,因爲人人都知道您是世界上最有學問的人。」
孔子說:「快把你們的問題說給我聼。」
一個小孩說:「我認爲太陽在清早剛出來的時候離人近,中午的時候離人遠。」
另一個小孩說:「他說得不對。我認爲太陽剛出來的時候離人遠,中午的時候離人近。」
孔子說:「你們每人再講講自己的理由。」
一個小孩兒說:「早晨太陽剛出來,又大又圓,和車輪差不多,中午就小得像盤子。東西離得越遠,看起來越小。可是太陽早晨離人近,中午離人遠。」
另一個小孩兒說:「一點兒都不對。早晨太陽出來,我們覺得涼快,到了中午,太陽把人曬得真流汗。人站在火旁邊,就覺得熱,離火遠些,就沒有感覺。所以我說太陽中午離人近。」
這個小孩都講完了,就問孔子,究竟他們誰說得對?
孔子似乎被這個問題難倒了,一時不知如何回答。他告訴他們說:「我不能斷定你們誰說得對,因爲我還沒有研究過這個問題。」那兩個小孩心裡想:孔子是最有學問的人,連他都回答不出這個問題;我們才知道多少事情,就以爲自己的想法一定對,實在太不應該了。

A Difficult Question
While Confucius was touring the countries of China, he saw two children arguing on the side of the road. Since he was sitting inside his cart, he couldn’t make out what they were debating, but their faces were beet red, their voices were getting louder and louder, and they were on the verge of fighting each other. Confucius came down from his cart, stepped in front of them, and told them to break it up. He asked them, “What are you arguing about?”
One boy said, “Grandfather, who are you? You must know more than us, so please tell us who’s right!”
Confucius said, “I am Kong Qiu from Lu. Please tell me, what were you debating?”
The other boy said, “You must be Confucius. You can definitely settle our problem, because everybody says you’re the most educated man in the entire world.”
Confucius said, “Quickly, tell me what your problem is.”
One boy said, “I think the sun is closer to us at dawn and farther away from us at noon.”
The other boy said, “He’s wrong. I think the sun is farther away at dawn and closer at noon.”
Confucius said, “Each of you, please give me your reasons.”
The first boy said, “At dawn, the sun is as big and as round as a wheel, but at noon, it’s as small as a dish. When things are far away from us, they look small, but when they’re close to us, they look big. So the sun must be closer to us in the morning and farther away from us at noon.”
The other boy said, “He’s completely wrong. At sunrise, we feel cool, but at noon, we sweat. When you’re close to a fire, it feels hot, and when you’re far away, you don’t feel it. So I think the sun is closest to us at noon.”
The boys asked Confucius who was right.
Confucius seemed flummoxed. For a while, he didn’t know how to reply. Finally, he said, “I can’t tell you who is correct because I haven’t studied this question.”
The two boys thought, “If Confucius is the most learned man in the world, and he doesn’t know the answer, then how could we have been so sure that we did?”

Explore posts in the same categories: China, Education, Literature, Philosophy, Taiwan, Translations, 中文

Tags: , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

One Comment on “一個不容易回答的問題 ~ A Difficult Question”

  1. msvanessab Says:

    It’s amazing to see how much an opinion can influence your actions, and drive you to fight for what you think is right!

    Alternatively: who is to say the most learned man in the world MUST know the answer? Outside reasoning and thought is a beautiful thing. A quote I have on my page explains how I feel on many topics, as I have a tendency to bounce around and have interests until I find myself in the same scenario:

    “I do not know everything; still many things I understand.” – Goethe

    If I am wrong on a topic, and you can justify this to me, I will be more than happy to listen and ultimately, learn. :)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: