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精读4第三课Why Historians Disagree中英对译

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2021-02-22 19:46
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2021年2月22日发(作者:鉴赏)


Why Historians Disagree



Allen F


. Davis & Harold n



1



Most students are usually introduced


to the


study of history by way of a


fat textbook and


become


quickly immersed in a vast sea of names, dates,events and statistics. The students' skills are then


tested by examinations that require them to show how much of the data they remember; the more


they remember, the higher their grades. From this experience a number of conclusions seem obvious:


the study of history is the study of


as


a


student


of


history.


The


professional


historian


is


simply


one


who


brings


together


a


very


large


number of


disagree sharply even when they are dealing withe the same event.


大多数学生通常都是 通过一本厚厚的教科书接触历史的,


然后他们很快便淹没在浩瀚如海的名字、

< p>
日期、


事件和数据当中。然后学生们的学习水平通过考试来检验,主要考察 他们记住了多少资料;记得越多,


成绩就越好。我们可以从中得出一些显而易见的结论: 历史学习就是学习过去的



事实



;你知道的历史



事实


越多,你的历史就学得越好。专业历史学家们就是将大量



事实



搜集到一起的人。因此,当学 生们


发现历史学家们甚至对同一个历史事件常常有完全不同的意见时,他们常常感到困惑 不解。



2



Their commonsense reaction to this state of affairs is to conclude that one historian is right while the


other is wrong. And presumably, historians who are wrong will have their


the


case,


however.


Historians


usually


all


argue


reasonably


and


persuasively.


And,


the



names,dates,


events,


statistics--usually


turn


out


to


be


correct.


Moreover,


they


often


find


that


contending historians more or less agree on the facts; that is , they use much the same data. They


come to different conclusions because they view the past form a different perspective. History, which


seemed to be a cut-and -dried matter of memorizing


good interpretation form among many. Historical truth becomes a matter of personal preference.


面对这种情况,学生们的通常反应是,断 定其中一位历史学家是正确的,而另一位是错误的。而且,据


此推测,错误的历史学家们 所掌握的



史实


是错的。然而,实际情况很少是这样的。历史学家们的论证


通常都有理有据,并具有 说服力。而且,那些



事实



---


名字、日期、事件和数据


---


通常被证明是正确的。


此外,学生们常常发现争论不休的历史学家或多或 少认同这些



史实


< br>;也就是说,他们使用的资料几乎


相同。他们得出不同的结论是因为他们从不同的 角度看待历史。原本历史似乎是一件记忆



史实



的事,


现在却变成从许多解释中挑选出一种合理的解 释的事了。历史真相变成了个人喜好问题。



3



This position is hardly satisfying. They cannot help but feel that two diametrically opposedpoints of


view about an event cannot both be right; yet they lack the ability to decide between them.


这种看 法几乎难以令人满意。学生们不禁觉得,关于同一个历史事件的两种截然相反的观点不可能同时

< br>正确;然而,他们缺乏判断孰是孰非的能力。



4



To


understand


why historians


disagree, students must consider a


problem they have


more or less


taken for granted. They must ask themselves what history really is .


要理解历史学家们为什么意见不统一,学生们必须考虑一个他 们或多或少已经认为理所当然的问题。他


们必须问问自己,历史到底是什么。

< p>


5



In its broadest sense, history denotes the whole of the human past. More restricted is the notion that


history is the recorded past, that is , that part of human life which has left some sort of record such as


folk tales, artifacts, or written documents. Finally, history may be defined as that which historians write


about the past. Of course the three meanings are related. Historians must base their accounts on the


remains of the past, left by people. Obviously they cannot know everything for the simple reason that


not every event, every happening, was fully and completely recorded. Therefore the historian can only


approximate history at best. No one can ever claim to have concluded the quest.


从最广义的角度看,历史是指人类过去的全部。若加以限定,历 史是有记录的过去,即人类生活中留下


某种记录的那部分,如明间故事、手工制品或书面 文件等。最后,历史也可以被定义为历史学家们对过


去的描述。当然,这三种定义是相互 关联的。历史学家们对历史的描述必须以过去人们的遗物为基础。


显然,他们不可能清楚 过去的一切,原因很简单,并非过去的每一大小事件都被全面完整地记录下来。


因此,历 史学家们至多只能是接近历史。没有哪位历史学家敢断言自己已终止了对历史的探索。



6


But


this


does


not


say


enough.


If


historians


cannot


know


everything


because


not


everything


was


recorded, neither do they use all the records that are available to them. Rather, they select only those


records they deem most significant. Moreover, they also re-create parts of the past. Like detectives,


they piece together evidence to fill in the gaps in the available records.


但这种解 释还是不够。如果说历史学家因为过去的一切并非都有记载而不能全面了解历史,他们也不会

全部采用获得的所有历史记录。相反,他们只挑选那些他们认为最重要的记录来用。此外,他们还对部


分历史进行重新创造。就像侦探一样,他们要拼凑已有证据来填补现有记录中的空白。



7



Historians are able to select and create evidence by using some theory of human motivations and


behavior Sometimes this appears to be easy, requiring very little sophistication and subtlety. Thus, for


example, historians investigating America's entry into World War I would probably find that the sinking


of American merchant ships on the high seas by German submarines was relevant to their discussion.


At


the


same


time,


they


would


most


likely


not


use


evidence


that


President


Woodrow


Wilson


was


dissatisfied withe a new hat he bought during the first months of 1917. The choice as to which fact to


use is based on a theory --admittedly, in this case a rather crude theory, but a theory nonetheless. It


would go something like this: National leaders contemplating war are more likely to be influenced by


belligerent acts against their countries than by their unhappiness with their haberdashers.


根据某些有关人类动机和行为的理论,历史学家能够挑选 和创造证据。有时,这看起来很容易,不需要


复杂的经验和敏锐的观察力。比如说,那些 研究美国参加第一次世界大战原因的历史学家很有可能会认


为,德国潜水艇击沉在公海航 行的美国商船这件事与他们的讨论有关。与此同时,他们绝不会使用伍德



.


威尔逊总统对他在


1917


年头几个月买的一顶新帽子不满意这样的证据。


选择使用哪些事实是基于一

< p>
种理论


---


不可否认,在这种情况下,这是一个 相当粗糙的理论,但不管怎么说,它是一种理论。这个理


论大致是这样的:对于考虑战争 问题的国家领导人来说,他们更可能受到针对他们国家的寻衅行为的影


响,而不是受到对 服饰经销商的不满的影响。



8



If the choices were as simple as this ,the problem would be easily resolved. but the choices were not


so easy to make. Historians investigating the United States' entry into World Was I will find in addition


to German submarine warfare a whole series of other facts that could be relevant to the event under


study. For instance, they will find that the British government had a propaganda machine at work in the


United


States


that


did


its


best


to


win


public


support


for


the


British


cause.


They


will


discover


that


American bankers had made large loans to the British, loans that would not be repaid in the event of a


British


defeat.


They


will


read


of


the


interception


of


the



Note,


in


which


the


German


Foreign Secretary ordered the German minister in Mexico, in the event of war, to suggest an alliance


between Germany and Mexico whereby Mexico, with German support, could win back territory taken


form


Mexico


by


the


United


States


in


the


Mexican


War.


They


will


also


find


among


many


American


political


leaders


a


deep


concern


over


the


balance


of


power


in


Europe,


a


balance


that


would


be


destroyed --to America's disadvantage-- if the Germans were able to defeat the French and the British


and thereby emerge as the sole major power in Europe.


如果选择都如此简单,那 问题就很容易解决了。但做出选择不是那么容易。那些研究美国参加第一次世


界大战的历 史学家们会发现,除了德国潜水艇战之外,还有其他一系列的史实可能与他们正在研究的事


件有关。例如,他们会发现英国政府的一个宣传机构在美国进行了大量宣传,极力争取美国公众对英国


的支持。他们会发现美国的银行家们给英国发放了大量贷款,一旦英国战败,这些巨额贷款将无法 得到


偿还。他们会读到截获的



齐默尔 曼外交照会



,里面德国外交部长命令德国驻墨西哥公使节,一 旦德美


战争爆发,就建议墨西哥政府与德国结成同盟,由此在德国的帮助下,墨西哥可以 夺回它在墨西哥战争


中被美国夺去的领土。他们还会发现许多美国政治领导人非常关注欧 洲的实力平衡,如果德国打败法国


和英国从而成为欧洲唯一的主要强国,这种平衡就会被 打破,那将对美国非常不利。



9



What then are historians to make of these facts? One group could simply list them .By dong so, they


would


be


making


two


important


assumptions:


(1)


those


facts


they


put


on


their


list


are



the


main


reasons, while those they do not list are not important; and (2) those things they put on their list are of


equal importance in explaining the U.S. another group of historians might argue that the list is


incomplete in that it does not take into account the generally pro-British views of Woodrow Wilson,


views


that


disagreement


among


the


historians.


Moreover,


because


the


second


group


raise


the


question of Wilson's views, they will find a number of relevant facts that the first group his teachers,


the books he read, and the books he wrote. In short, although both groups of historians are dealing


with the same subject they will come to different conclusions and use different facts to support their


points of view. The facts selected, and those ignored, will depend not on the problem studied but on


the points of view of the historians.


那么,历史学家们将如何来 看待和解释这些事实呢?一组历史学家可能仅仅把它们列出来。这样做,意


味着他们作出 了两个重要的假设:



1


)那些他们列 出来的事实是主要原因,而那些他们没有列出来的则


无足轻重;



2


)在解释美国在战争中所扮演的角色时,那些他们列出来的 事实同等重要。但另一组历史


学家可能争辩说,


所列内容不够完 整,


因为这些事实没有把伍德罗


.


威尔 逊总统的亲英观点考虑进去,



个观点源于总统本人的背景和教 育经历。结果,历史学家们的意见出现了分歧。而且,由于第二组历史


学家提出了威尔逊 的亲英观点这一问题,他们会找出许多倍第一组历史学家所忽略的相关史实。他们会


关注 威尔逊的教育经历、他的老师对他的影响、他读过的书以及他所著的书。总而言之,虽然两组历史


学家在讨论同一个问题,但他们会得出不同的结论并使用不同的史实来支持自己的观点。事实的挑选和< /p>


忽略并不由所研究的问题决定,而是取决于他们的观点。



10


Similarly a


third


group of historians might maintain that the


various items on the


list should


not be


given equal weight, that one of the reasons listed, say, bankers' loans,was most important. The theory


here would be that economic matters are the key to human motivation, and that a small number of


wealthy bankers have a disproportionate ability to influence government.


同样,第三组 历史学家可能坚持认为,所列出的各项事实的重要性不应是等同的,而其中的一个原因,


如银行家的贷款,是最为重要的。他们的理论根据是:经济因素是人类动机的关键,并且为数不多的富

< p>
有的银行家对政府有着特别大的影响力。



11



In the examples given, historians disagree because they begin from different premises. But there is


still


another


realm


of


disagreement


which


stems


form


something


rather


different.


Historians


sometimes disagree because they are not really


discussing the same thing. Often they are merely


considering different levels of cause and effect. Suppose the teacher asked you


for


class


this


morning?



was


late


for


class


you


explained,



I


overslept.


Or


to


use


a


historical example,


federal garrison at Fort Sumter on April 12,1861.


that it its inaccurate; at the same time, however, neither is sufficient as an explanation of the event


being considered. The next question is did you oversleep, or why did relations between


one state and the Federal government reach the point where differences had to be settled by war? In


other words, we have to go beyond the proximate cause and probe further and further. but as we dig


more deeply into the problem, the answer becomes more difficult and complex. In the end, you might


argue that the ultimate cause of your being late was the fact that you were born, but obviously this


goes too far back to be meaningful. That you were born is of course a necessary factor, but it is not a


sufficient factor; it does not really tell enough to explain your behavior today. Similarly you could trace


the cause of the Civil War back to the discovery of America, but again, that is a necessary but not a


sufficient


cause.


The


point


at


which


causes


are


both


necessary


and


sufficient


is


not


self-evident.


Therefore historians may again disagree about where to begin the analysis. By now students should


see that the well-used phrase


not speak for themselves; historians use the facts in a particular way and therefore they, and not the


facts, are doing the speaking.


以上所举的例子中,历史学家们之所以意见不一是因为他们开始的 前提不同。但是历史学家们之间还有


另一种分歧,而这种分歧源于一个相当不同的原因。 历史学家们有时意见不一是因为他们实际上并不是


在讨论同一个问题。他们通常考虑的只 是事物因果关系的不同层次。假如老师问你



今天早晨上课为什


么迟到了?



你会解释说:

< p>


我迟到是因为我睡过了头。


< br>或者举一个历史上的例子,



美国南北战争的起


因是南卡罗来纳州的海岸炮兵在


1861



4



12


日向驻守 在萨姆特堡的守备部队开火。



这两种说法都

< br>不能因为不准确而被说成是错误的;


但同时,


两者都不足 以用来解释相关问题。


接下来的问题显而易见:


你为什么睡过头 ,


或者为什么一个州和联邦政府的关系恶化到要通过战争才能解决分歧的地步?换句话< /p>


说,


我们得超越近因,


更深入地探究下去 。


但随着我们对问题的剖析更加深入,


问题的答案也变得更难、


更复杂。最后,你可能会说,你迟到的最终原因是因为你来到了人世,但显然这偏离我们 的话题太远,


已经没有实际意义了。你的出生当然是个必要条件,但它不是充分条件。问 题在于,在所有的原因中,


必要条件和充分条件的交叉点并不是显而易见的。因此,历史 学家们就会在从何处着手分析问题上再次


产生分歧。现在学生们应当明白,人们常说的< /p>



让事实说话



实际上没有任何意义。事实自己不会说话;


历史学家们用一种特殊的方式使用事实,因此 ,是他们在说话,而不是事实。



12


Historians not only often disagree with others. They often disagree with themselves. Indeed they are


often


revising


their


ideas.


They


have


to


do


so


because


they


are


constantly


discovering


new


information, gaining new insights form other social scientists and mastering and using new techniques.


Historians also learn form each other and benefit form international comparisons of similar events and


institutions.


历史学家们不仅经常和其他人意见不一,他们也会经常和自己的意见产生分歧。事实上,他们经常修改


自己的观点。他们这样做是因为他们在不断地发现新的信息,从其他社会学家那里获得新 的见解,不断


掌握并使用新的技术。历史学家们还会互相学习,并且通过对比研究国际上 的相似事件和制度获益。



13


Can we eliminate all disagreement? If the state of our knowledge were such that it provided us with a


model of unquestioned validity that completely explained human behavior, we can. But since we don



t


have


such


a


complete


and


foolproof


explanation,


disagreements


are


destined


to


remain.


when


students realize that there is no one easy answer to the problems historians raise and that


but an elusive yet intriguing goal in a never ending quest, they will find the study of history to be a


significant, exhilarating, and useful part of their education.


我们能消除所有的分歧吗?如果我们的知识水平已能为我们提供一个能完全地解释人类行 为的绝对有


效模式,我们就能消除分歧。但由于我们无法做出这样一个完整可靠的、万无 一失的解释,分歧便注定


要存在。当学生们意识到,历史学家们提出的问题没有一个简单 的答案,并且



真相



只是在永无止境的


探索中的一个难以实现却又引人入胜的目标时,他们会发现学 习历史是他们所受教育中一个意义深远


的、令人兴奋的且有益的组成部分。



(


1,624 words


)

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