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爱因斯坦的幸福观

几天前爱因斯坦的两张小纸条在耶路撒冷卖了180(156+24)万美元。

便条是1922年11月写的。老爱自1922年10月8日离开德国开始了五个月的漫游,经过了科伦坡、新加坡、香港和上海(11月13日),然后到日本(进行五个星期的访问和讲学),在路上传来了他获诺奖的消息(“补发”1921年的奖),于是人山人海涌来看稀奇——据后来的报道说:

When Einstein arrived at the station there were such large crowds that the police was unable to cope with the perilous crush . . .at the chrysanthemum festival it was neither the empress nor the prince regentnor the imperial princes who held reception; everything turned around Einstein.

这段话转引自Pais的老爱传(最近商务印书馆出了新版,加了彭罗斯的序言),老P注引Philipp Frank的Einstein: Sein Leben und seine Zeit,但我没找到那段话;Frank的书有英译本:Einstein: His Life and Times,但内容似乎不全同。

那会儿,老爱从喧闹的欧洲出来,东方(印度、中国、日本等)的宁静、幽思和彬彬有礼(calmness, meditativeness, and politeness)令他着迷,而日本人对艺术的热爱更令他惊讶(据其他文献,他对上海的感觉可不太好)。

他不想面对那么多看热闹的人,就想写几句话表一个态度。正巧送信的小哥来了,他就顺手用帝国饭店的便笺写了两张(德文),一张写的是,宁静淡泊比终日蝇营幸福得多。(A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.)另一张是一句大家都熟悉的谚语When there’s a will, there’s a way(“有志者事竟成”却不是谚语,见《后汉书》,相关片段因入选《古文观止》而更加流行。)

老爱的幸福观是一贯的。1954年1月16日,他对李政道说过类似的话(爱因斯坦档案60-235):

A life directed chiefly toward the fulfillment of personal desires will soon or later always lead to bitter disappointment.

而他在30年代谈生活的一篇文章(What I believes, Forum and Century84 (Oct. 1930): 193-194.)说得更具体:令我阳光快乐的生活理念是真善美,对安逸舒适我不感兴趣,那只是喜羊羊们的生活:The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never appealed to me; a system built on this basis would be sufficient only for a herd of cattle.

 据那邮递小哥的后人说,老爱曾告诉小哥,如果运气好,这两张字条可比小费贵多啦!这个预言今天应验了,比引力波预言还晚了两年。(我在京都的什么宾馆里留下了好几张便条,不知有没有哪个幸运的服务员把它们收藏起来?)

http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-279992-1082572.html

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