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六级阅读:个人主义的典范美国人 精讲

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2015年06月25日

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  六级阅读:个人主义的典范美国人 精讲:The Amer ican Character 1

  What do Americans believe in2? What is the American character? These questions are hard to answer, because there are so many Americans and they believe in so many different things. However, the history of the United States does provide some understanding of certain basic characteristics that many Americans share .

  One of the main reasons why the early settlers came to America was to escape the controls they had experienced in Europe. 3 There , small groups of wealthy people prevented them from moving into a higher social position or becoming wealthy, and governmentsupported churches controlled their religious practices and beliefs. Because these early settlers wanted to be free from such controls, they brought to America the view that the individual was supremely important. The settlers were against the efforts of the church, the society, and particularly the government, to control their actions. These controls came to be viewed as "un-American"4 .

  This strong American belief in individualism has both positive and negative sides5 . On the positive side, it has strengthened Americans’inventiveness and their belief in hard work. On the negative side, the belief in individualism has sometimes prevented Americans from using their government to solve their common problems. Americans prefer not to have government solutions to social problems.

  The belief in individualism is a basic part of the American character. This belief has at least two separate parts — idealism and materialism6. Although these two beliefs are quite different, most Americans try to live with them both at the same time, and idealism and materialism are both very much a part of the American character.

  American idealism comes largely from the nation’s Protestant7 religious heritage . Early Americans did not have to belong to any particular church to have this belief. It influenced all Americans so strongly that idealism came to mean that each individual should possess a high moral character, and should live by his or her own beliefs. This is what American idealism means today.

  Americans also have a strong belief in materialism, that is, that each individual should gain as much wealth as possible. The American belief in materialism is partly a result of the nation’s great material abundance. The early settlers found a continent with great forests, rivers, and fertile farmland in abundance. It is not surprising that many viewed America as the land of opportunity. 8

  As the United States grew and developed, the supply of natural resources seemed endless, and so did the opportunities for personal economic advancement. Each generation had a chance to become wealthier than their parents had been. Generation after generation of new immigrants had the same opportunity. Americans eventually developed the belief that it was almost a duty to get rich.

  阅读自测

  Ⅰ. Here a re some new sports words that people often use in daily life . Guess their Chinese meanings:

  All-star Game———

  Most Valuable Player ( MVP) ———

  Rookie of the Year———

  X-Games / Extreme Sports———

  Bungee jumping———

  Rock-climbing / Freeclimbing———

  Bicycle Motocross ( BMX) ———

  treadmill———

  aerobics———

  Ⅱ. When is a h ouse n ot just a house ? Guess the meanings of various houses:

  playhouse———

  Wendy house / dollhouse———

  fun house———

  lodging house———

  Opera house ———

  tea house———

  Full House ———

  Meeting House ———

  Upper House and Lower House———

  参考答案

  Ⅰ. 全明星赛最有价值球员年度最佳新秀极限运动蹦极跳 攀岩自行车越野跑步机有氧运动

  Ⅱ. 戏院、儿童游戏室儿童玩具房游乐场宿舍歌剧院茶馆 客满, 座无虚席礼拜堂、教堂上议院与下议院

  参考译文

  个人主义的典范——美国人

  国人的信念是什么? 美国人什么性格? 这些问题都难以回答, 因为美国人太多了,他 们有太多不同的信条。即便如此, 美国的历史的确有助于我们理解许多美国人所拥有的 一些基本特征。

  早期定居者来美国的主要原因之一是为了逃避在欧洲所受的管制。在欧洲, 由富人组 成的各种小圈子阻止他们步入上层社会或过富裕生活, 政府扶持的教会约束他们的宗教活 动和信仰。这些早期定居者力图摆脱控制, 所以他们就带着这样一种信念来到了美国, 即 个人至关重要。那些居民反对教会、社会、特别是政府约束他们的行为。这些约束都被认 为是“不合美国原则的”。

  美国人这种强烈的个人主义信仰, 既有积极影响也有消极一面。积极影响是, 它强化 了美国人的创新意识和努力工作的信念。消极一面就是, 个人主义精神时常妨碍美国人利 用政府力量去解决公共问题。美国人不愿请政府解决社会问题。

  信奉个人主义是美国人性格的基本组成部分。这种信奉至少可分为两个独立的部 分——— 理想主义和物质主义。虽然二者截然不同, 但是大多数美国人却都想同时拥有理想 和物质, 所以理想主义和物质主义二者都是美国人性格的重要组成部分。

  美国人的理想主义信念主要来自他们的新教传统。早期美国人并非一定得属于某个 教会才能有这种信念。理想主义意味着每个人都应有高尚的道德品质, 并按自己的信仰生 活, 这深深地影响着所有的美国人。这也是今天美国人理想主义的内涵所在。

  美国人同样十分崇尚物质主义, 即每个人都应该获取尽可能多的财富。国家丰富的物 产在一定程度上促成了美国人形成这种信念。早期定居者发现这块大陆有广袤的森林、宽 阔的河流和肥沃的良田。不足为奇, 许多人都认为美国是一片充满机遇的土地。

  在美国的发展与壮大的过程中, 自然资源似乎是取之不尽的, 而个人致富的机会也无 处不在。每一代都有机缘变得比父辈们更富裕。一代代的新移民拥有相同的机会变成富 人。最终, 美国人形成了这样一种信念: 每个人都有义务成为富人。

  阅读导评

  个人主义的人性论认为, 对于一个正常的成年人来说, 最符合其利益的, 就是让其有最大限 度的自由和责任去选择目标和达到这些目标的手段, 并且付诸行动。而美洲这块新大陆恰好以 其广袤的土地, 丰饶的资源为人们实现其梦想提供了物质基础。人们怀着个人主义的信念为实 现其美国梦而努力而斗。在这个寻梦的过程中, 有的人梦想成真, 有的人一枕黄粱, 但是个人主 义则在这一过程中变成了美国文化的显著标志和美国人最深刻的民族特征。

  阅读导释

  1. 美国著名学者罗伯特·贝拉( Robert N. Bellah) 在他的《心灵的习性》( Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life) 中指出: 个人主义是美国文化的核心。美国 人相信个人的尊严, 乃至个人的神圣不可侵犯性。他们为自己而思考, 为自己而判断, 为 自己决策, 按自己认为适当的方式生活。违背这些原则的任何事情都是道德上的错误, 都是亵渎神明的。这是美国文化的独特之处, 也是这篇文章所要讲述的问题。

  2. 这里需要注意believe in 和believe 的区别, believe 是“ 相信, 相信某人的话”, 如: Don’t believe him. ( 别相信他的话。) believe in 指“ 信仰, 信任, 信赖”, 如: Christians believe in Jesus. ( 基督教信仰耶稣。)

  3.“ 早期定居者”指的就是以清教徒前辈移民( Pilgrim Fathers) 为首的英格兰分离教派教 徒, 他们为追求宗教自由和富裕生活, 在伦敦某公司的资助下, 搭乘“ 五月花”号( Mayflower) 赴美洲。

  4. 这个词语在这里的意思是“ 非美国的, 不合美国风俗习惯或传统、标准、原则、特色的”。

  5. 这里的positive 和negative 刚好是一对反义词。positive 是指“ 肯定的, 表示赞成的, 积极 的”, 如: a positive answer ( 肯定答复) ; a positive attitude toward the future ( 对未来的乐观 态度) 。negative 的意思是“ 相反的, 反面的, 消极的”, 如: a negative role ( 反面人物) ; a negative outlook on life ( 消极的人生观) 。

  6. idealism 和materialism 是一对意思相对的词。idealism 是“ 理想主义”, 哲学上的唯心主 义。materialism 是“物质主义, 实利主义”, 哲学上的唯物主义。

  7. 新教徒, 是不受天主教或东正教控制的其他基督教徒。新教是基督教的一大分支。

  8. 这里我们可以看出, 美国被看作是一个充满机会与希望的地方, 这种印象是后来的美国 梦( American Dream) 思潮形成的原因之一。


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