[翻译] 为什么我们喜欢数学?

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知乎上一个问题的答案之一:http://www.zhihu.com/question/19963623/answer/29622984

为什么我们喜欢数学?
Why we love mathematics?

因为我们变态*。我们认为数学背后隐藏着一个柏拉图式的世界,而这个世界值得我们牺牲宝贵的时间、能量、社交生活来探索。大学社交圈里,人人都忙着每年在华尔街挣个几百万,我们却专注于学术,我们收到的金钱回报微乎其微,还不得不互相竞争。
It is because we are *abnormal
. We think the platonic world behind mathematics is worthy of our precious time, energy and social life. While others in our college social circle are earning millions a year in the Wall Street, we are working on papers that give us little monetary reward and be forced to compete against each other.

因为我们沉迷*。我们认为“好”与“坏”的区别是十分微妙的。我们坚信,要完全理解一件事物,就要对其背后的工作机制进行证明,少了一点都不能满足我们的求知欲。我们中的大多数人都会假设这个世界是非白即黑的,即,对于我们相信是真理的东西,要么总会有个答案,要么我们可以证明答案并不存在。面对一道难题,我们不用上一万种方法去攻克它是不会罢休的。我们不仅沉迷于寻找解决方法,也沉迷于寻找更普适的最优理解方式。
It is because we are *obsessive
. We think that what distinguishes “good” and “bad” is something subtle. We insist that to understand something completely one needs a proof illustrating the mechanism behind it, and nothing less will satisfying [sic] our intellectual needs. For most of us, we pretended that the world is black and white, such that for what we believed to be true there is either an answer somewhere, or we can show there is no answer available. For a problem that puzzles us, we will try a million methods to attack it before we give up. We are obsessed with not just how to solve it, but to find the best way to understand it in a more general context.

因为我们拙于世故*。我们不怕指出别人的错误、让他/她难堪。我们相信指出逻辑错误其实是对社会的巨大贡献。我们相信一个人绝不应该强迫别人去做什么事,改变别人想法最合理的方式应该是据理力争。不过,这么做往往让我们的生活举步维艰。
It is because we are *socially inept
. We are not afraid of point [sic] out others' mistakes so that he or she will feel embarrassed in front of the public. Instead we believe by pointing out the logical error we did an immeasurable service to the society. We believe one should never force others to do anything; and the only reasonable way to change others' opinion is through logical persuasion. By doing this, however, we usually make our lives much more difficult.

因为我们标新立异*。我们渴望像音乐家和视觉艺术家那样表达我们的想法。我们想用自己的努力,向世界展示全新的东西,而不只是享受前人的科技发展所带来的奢华。我们中,最终实现了梦想的人寥寥无几,但我们相信喜欢数学的每一个人都是独特的、我们的事业是无可替代的。我们想为自己的柏拉图式的世界做点贡献,让它生机勃勃、多姿多彩。
It is because we are *creative
. We want to express our ideas in way like musicians and visual artists. We want to show something entirely new to the world by building it ourselves, not just enjoying the luxury of technology advancement from our parents' generation. Few of us eventually fulfilled our dreams, but we believed each of us is unique and our work would not be replaceable by other people. We want to contribute to our platonic world by increasing its vitality and diversity.

因为我们自相矛盾*。我们相信,如果一个证明是正确的,那么其他的认可都是多余的了。我们相信,对于能跟上证明中每一个脚步的人来说,好的证明(研究)不证自明。然而,我们同时也明白,正是因为这样的信仰,我们才属于人类中的少数部分。我们知道,能够欣赏一件大作所蕴含的美丽的人少之又少。我们需要像我们一样的人来欣赏自己的作品,因为没有人想被社会孤立,但我们工作的本质使得这一需求难上加难。
It is because we are *self-contradictory
. We believe that if a proof is correct, then no other recognition is needed. We believe that good work would speak for itself for anyone who can follow every step in the proof. However, in the same time we understand that because of this belief we are placed in a small minority of humankind. We know there are only few people who can appreciate the true beauty lying behind a great piece of art. We need others like us to appreciate our work because no one wants to be socially isolated, but the nature of our work make this incredibly difficult.

从统计上来说,我相信,拥有这些特质的人屈指可数。因此我们爱上数学并不意外,因为这个星球上,几乎找不到第二项符合以上条件的事业了。在数学中,一个人无意间揭示的美丽可以为另一个相似的人所欣赏,因此我们找到了博爱。在数学中,重要的是你的思想,而不是你的身份,因此我们对真正的平等有了些许希望。在数学中,我们的研究在我们自己去世后仍会流传,因此我们为希望渺茫的不朽而奋斗。而我们作为浩瀚宇宙中随机而渺小的存在,也有了自身的意义。
Statistically, I believe people with such characteristics are very few. Therefore it is not surprising that we fall in love with mathematics, because there is virtually no other activity on this planet that suits these scumbags. In mathematics we found a sense of fraternity, that the beauty someone revealed accidentally can be appreciated by a similar mind. In mathematics we shared some hope of true equality, that what someone thinks matters and his or her physical identity does not matter. In mathematics we fought for the slim chance of immortality, that our work would eventually outlive us after we passed away. And our existence as random molecules in the universe would have a purpose.

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2014-08-25  ·  500 次查看  ·  V2EX