文礼书院正在复兴儒家传统——英国学者斯明诚先生为文礼书院奠基典礼贺辞
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文礼书院正在复兴儒家传统——英国学者斯明诚先生为文礼书院奠基典礼贺辞

斯明诚 文礼书院

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编者按

此文为英国学者,牛津大学古典学学士、硕士,复旦大学硕士斯明诚先生(David Symington),在2018年9月28日文礼书院奠基典礼时的贺辞。


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斯明诚先生(David Symington)在文礼书院奠基典礼上宣读贺辞


贺辞中文翻译(英文原文见后):


受邀至此,非常感谢。能亲自见证这一场既新颖又传统的教育运动的开启,荣幸之至。文礼书院正在复兴儒家传统,我想,这个传统将指引全世界的教育走向一个更恰当、更圆满的方向。


我第一次读到《论语》便印象深刻。儒家特别看重“学”这个字。不仅是我,许多西方人接触儒家,也都觉得奇怪,为何“学”这个字的份量可以与仁爱善德等其他美德一样重要。西方人生起的这一丝困惑,我认为,正好可以解释西方人看待学习与教育是比较功利实用的,而不太将学习看作人格道德提升的重要管道。西方人善于分别,所以我们习惯把学习与人格道德分开看。当然,如此说,并非忽视西方许多大教育学家,他们亦认为教育是提升道德之通路。然而,总体而言,我们西方把学习这件事情,是分开地看,是独立地看。我们习惯把学习仅仅看做是达到特定目标的管道,以此获取知识和技能。如今,对“学习”目的的表述可能更加趋于实用了——为了通过考试,获得学位与文凭。纵使说得更好听一些,是经历一趟博雅教育的旅程,成为一个能够贡献社会的人,然而我想,当我们把“学习”看做是要达成某个学习本身之外的目标或另有目的时,我们已经丧失了其中非常重要的东西。


论语中揭示的字,是一个纯粹的美德,并非是为了某一个特定的目标,而是一个过程,其自身就是价值目的之所在。此外,《论语》一再提醒我们,学习一旦丧失其活泼之生机,则学习的价值将打折扣。从《论语》的开篇名句,学而时习之,不亦悦乎,我们即可看出此一道理。然而孔子也一再强调,学习一旦凝滞僵化将会有什么后果。学而不思,学而不进,两句话都提醒我们,在学习的过程当中,应当有所省思,有所反刍。我们一旦把学习视作为一个固定的、有预期成果而采取的行动,我们就可能把学习生机盎然的内涵一一除去了,没有了,也没有了。


儒家对于"学"的认识,是全世界教育可以取法的,其中还有许多关于人格道德如何养成的教导。如我刚才所言,《论语》清楚地告诉我们,学习的过程不应当是为了任何一个特定的目的,或是为了达成某些目标而已。纵使把学习视为一个修德的工夫,也不是要把学习看作一个长养许多德性的一个过程。


我相信,学习作为一个过程,不论其所学的科目是科学文学音乐数学,皆当是德性的涵养,生命的滋润。并非是要学习伦理学或神学才可以算是关乎道德。《论语》说,兴于诗立于礼成于乐,正好指明学习的科目是如何广博。诗的学习,乐的学习,俱是德性的涵养。


西方思想家鲜少持有这种看待学习的观点。纵使也有人论及学习带有道德的成分,但多是关于科目内容,而不是对于学习之自觉其为人格生命的涵养。20世纪初期的法国哲学家西蒙娜韦伊,对于学习的认识:学习是道德的,是因为它能够培养"专注力",而专注力正是一种道德的质量。在韦伊的文章《学校教育的正确功用》中写道,虽然今天的人不太知道,专注力的培养,其实是学习的主要目的。大部分的学习科目,虽然有其利益所在,但都是次要的。所有的学科都需要专注力。作为热爱上帝的孩子,学校学生不会这样说,我喜欢数学,我喜欢法文,我喜欢希腊文,他们应当喜爱所有的科目,因为每一项都是培养他们的专注力,而专注力就引领向上帝,专注力是祈祷的主要条件。对于西蒙娜韦伊,祈祷就是专注于无限,专注于未知,专注于超越小我之上的主。


简而言之,学习可以开放我们的心灵,使其面向新的领域,新的层次,达到新的认识。恰当的学习,可以拓展我们的心灵,让我们了解个人所知之局限,让我们更加谦卑。或者更简言之:学习是让我们接触他人,那些与我们不一样的生命。学习可以让我们将他人的思维融入到我们的观点之中,于是增长自己的领悟、心胸与雅量。学习经典——而那些经典的言教经历了百千年的时光才到达我们的耳畔——从当今思维乃至世界观来看,会觉得有些异类,然而学习经典,正是我们面对“他人”的终极方式。如果将经典的见地见识融入到我们的观点当中,这人生将是何等的丰富。而唯有带着一种敬意与谦卑,才能够真正地入乎经典。


文礼书院非常明白应该将经典带入孩子生命当中,成为其慧命之中心。从古以来,"学习经典"的意义,并不只是获取知识的过程,好像只是在脑海当中收集一些漂亮的贝壳珠玉,而是把经典种在心灵中,如同在心灵中种下一棵树苗,不断长养之,培育之,与生命人格融为一体。今日的教育机构,很少能够像文礼书院这样认识教育,学之所贵就在于学习经典。而这一个过程是没有捷径,不能速成的,因为它的价值也就在其过程自身当中。


谈及儒家的学问,我是后学。在遇到儒学之前,我对于学习和学问的理解是非常有限的。文礼书院把真实之“学”置于核心地位,青年学子能够在此学习,实为至福。


谢谢各位。

英文贺辞原文:


Thank you very much for inviting me to be here. It really is a tremendous privilege to be able to witness the start of a movement in education that is both radically new and yet anchored in tradition. That Confucian tradition, which 文礼书院 is now reviving, is a tradition which will teach the world how to put education in a proper, integrated perspective. Let me explain:

When I first encountered the 论语 one of the first things that struck me was the prominence given to the concept of 学. I was not alone in being struck by that. Many westerners encountering 儒家 for the first time over the years have found it initially disorienting to have 学 discussed in such elevated terms along with ethical and spiritual concepts like 仁、爱、善 and 德. This confusion that westerners feel about the status of 学 reflects, I believe, the fact that we westerners are conditioned to think of learning and education either in very practical and pragmatic terms, or, at the most, a kind of adornment – rather than something vital to our moral and spiritual growth. We tend to divide things up into different realms, and we are so conditioned to think of learning as being something separate from morality. This is not, of course, to overlook the fact that there have been very prominent educational theorists in the west who have seen the value of education as a route to morality, but generally we study and learning as an activity which can be pursued independently and in isolation. We are also conditioned to think of 学 – learning and study – as merely a path towards some predefined goal: the acquisition of knowledge or the acquisition of skills. These days, the goal of study is likely to be expressed in even more utilitarian terms: passing exams, getting a degree or diploma. Even if the goal of study, though, is defined in more elevated terms (such as, acquiring a liberal education, becoming someone who can contribute to society), something vital is missed if we think of 学 is talked about in terms of its final goal or purpose rather than in and of itself.


What the 论语 brings home to us with such clarity is that 学 is seen as a virtue not because of some pre-determined goal or destination, but is valued in and of itself as a process. What’s more, its value, 论语 is constantly reminding us that 学 is in danger as soon as we stop seeing it as a continually dynamic process. We see this not only in the famous first line: 学而时习之,不亦悦乎, but 孔子 also repeatedly warns of the problem of ever seeing Xue as something static or unchanging: he warns for example against “学而不思” and also against “学而不进” – both of these phrases can be seen as meaning that there has to be some kind of dynamic interchange and reflection in the process of 学. The moment we fall into seeing 学as something  fixed, predictable or directed precisely towards some goal we are guilty of removing that dynamism from 学:removing the 进 or the 思.


This 儒家 concept of  学 as being something dynamic and that its essential value is in that dynamism is something that the world can learn from in terms of how to approach education. It also has a huge amount to teach us in terms of how moral character is formed. As I said just a moment ago, 论语 is clearly telling us that 学 should not be seen in terms of clear, pre-defined goals or “merely a process” heading towards some goal. That means that even if we see 学 as a moral endeavour, it is wrong to see it as a process of “learning a set of moral precepts, or learning a set of rules of behaviour”. What 儒家 identifies is that 学 as a process cultivates morality.


This, I believe, means that “learning” as a process, no matter what the subject (science, literature, music, mathematics) should be seen as a moral endeavour and conducive to the cultivation of moral character. It is not moral only if we are studying ethics 伦理 or theology 神学. Again, 论语 is quite clear that the objectives of study are broad and comprehensive: “兴于诗 . . . . 成于乐”. The study of literature “诗” and music “乐” are also essentially moral endeavours.


The idea that study and learning, no matter what the object of study, is, when properly conceived, a moral endeavour in and of itself, is something which few western thinkers have ever expressed. Even those who talk of learning as having a moral component, tend to talk about it in terms of the subjects studied, rather than show that awareness of study itself as being cultivating of character. One of the few thinkers I know of who has talked about study in these terms is the early 20th century French philosopher Simone Weil (西蒙娜 韦伊). For her “study” is moral because it develops the faculty of what she calls “attention”: an essentially moral quality. In her essay, “The Right Use of School Studies”, she writes, “Although people seem to be unaware of it today, the development of the faculty of attention forms the real object and almost the sole interest of studies. Most school tasks have a certain intrinsic interest as well, but such an interest is secondary. All tasks that really call upon the power of attention are interesting for the same reason and to an almost equal degree. School children and students who love God should never say: “For my part I like mathematics”; “I like French”; “I like Greek.” They should learn to like all these subjects, because all of them develop that faculty of attention which, directed toward God, is the very substance of prayer.” “Prayer”, for Weil, essentially means focussing on “the infinite”, “the unknown” and “that which is beyond me”.


I would put it in slightly simpler terms. Studying is the process of opening our minds up to new fields, new perspectives, new understanding. When undertaken properly it should expand our minds, but also increase our humility as we understand how little we will ever know. To put it even more simply: study brings us into contact with “the other” that which is outside of ourselves and different from ourselves. Study invites us to try to incorporate “the other” into our own perspective and thereby grow in understanding, empathy and sympathy. Learning the classics: those voices that reach us across the centuries through languages that seem, at first, alien; from mindsets and world views that can seem, also, alienating and confronting, is the ultimate way of learning to face “the other”. Incorporating those views and perspectives into our own world view is deeply enriching, but it can only be achieved with respect and humility.


文礼书院understands the value of making classics part of the life of children, and puts them at its core. It understands that ancient idea that “learning the classics” is not a simple process of acquiring nuggets of knowledge that sit inert in the brain like collection of pretty shells or jewels; rather it should be a process of planting these classics deep in the soul where they will continue to be nurtured and cultivated like plants, which live within the personality. 文礼书院 understands in a way that few, if any educational institutions today do, that it is the process of acquiring and studying the classics the “学”, which is so valuable. This process cannot be cut short or speeded up, because it is the process itself that is so valuable.


I came to 儒家 late in life. Before my encounter with it, I had an impoverished and limited understanding of learning and study. The young minds at 文礼书院 are truly privileged to be able to learn in an institution which puts a proper understanding of 学 at the centre of all that it does.


Thank you very much.



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