What would Plato and Confucius think about modern landscape and architecture? 孔子和柏拉图会对现代建筑和园林的思考会是怎样的?

Plato: Confucius! How old are you now? Where have you been?
Confucius: I died 2489 years ago and have been touring the Andromeda Galaxy without a body. How about you?
Plato: I died 2357 years ago and I’ve been doing much the same thing.
Confucius: Well, I am so glad we’ve met again, and with a great view of the city they have made down there.
Plato: It is called New York and the plan for Central Park was done by a landscape architect called Frederick Law Olmsted. Everyone thought it was brilliant so they created a profession called Landscape Architecture. I like it.
Confucius: Yes, and New York reminds me of the way gridiron buildings and a flowing landscape are combined in Beijing, China.
Plato. I’ve seen Beijing. The center is wonderful – but have you seen the suburbs? Ugh.
Confucius: Yes. I wouldn’t want to live in them any more than I would like to live in most American cities – or any of the other big twentieth century cities. What do you think went wrong?
Plato. I’m afraid I spent too much time thinking about society and not enough time thinking about the landscape.
Confucius: I think I made the same mistake. But it did not seem necessary. Daoists knew of a wonderful relationship between Man and Nature so I did not need to worry too much about it. The important thing was to think about an ethical code which would make for happy families and well-run countries without too much fighting.
Plato: My concern was also with human society. We had political problems in Greece and the great thing was to distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, truth from falsehood. Relationships with the Gods were fine and we did not need to worry too much about relationships between Man and Nature or cities and landscapes. But I wish I had written more about it.
Confucius: I wish I had too. But can you tell me why the modern world does not have more landscape architects and why they don’t integrate architecture and landscape when making all those new cities?
Plato: They will, my friend, they will. Or the human race will not survive the growing environmental crisis.
Confucius: I hope you are right, my friend. They have a ‘conservation movement’ but their understanding of its nature and its history is far too shallow.
Plato: Do you remember when our ancestors roamed together in Central Asia?
Confucius: I have heard of it, and of how they loved the wild landscapes, but perhaps you remember more of those times. What do you think matters most?
Plato: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Death is not the worst that can happen to men. Ignorance is the root and the stem of every evil. Laws are partly formed for the sake of good men, in order to instruct them how they may live on friendly terms with one another, and partly for the sake of those who refuse to be instructed, whose spirit cannot be subdued, or softened, or hindered from plunging into evil.
Confucius: Yes. Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses. What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others. Study the past if you would define the future. He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.
Tom: Yes indeed. But what about the fauna, the flora, the mountains, the rivers, the winds, the forests and the seas?
Confucius and Plato: We have learned many things in Andromeda – but the truth which can be spoken is not the real truth and the world that can be seen is not the real world.

柏拉图:是的,这是纽约,它的中心公园的设计是由一位名叫弗雷德里克·劳·奥姆斯特德的风景园林师完成的。 每一个人都认为这是个杰出的作品,所以人类就创造了一个专业:风景园林。 我喜欢它。
孔子: 对,纽约使我回忆起中国北京的方格建筑物和流动的园林的结合。
柏拉图:我也看过北京。 北京的中心地带很不错,但是你看了北京的郊区没有?哎!
孔子: 是啊。 我再也不愿意住在那里了,相比而言,更愿意住在大多数的美国城市,或者其他二十一世纪的城市。你觉得错在哪里呢?
孔子:没错。忘记伤害,永远不要忘记善良。己所不欲,勿施于人。如果你想定义未来,那么就学习过去。 谁执政,就意味着他的美德可以与北极星媲美,在位置上不动,所有的星星都簇拥他的身边。
孔子和柏拉图:我们在仙女座星系学到了很多东西. 但能够被说出来的“真理”就不是真正的真理,而且能够被看到的”世界”就不是真的世界了。

(Thank you to Tian Yuan for the translation)

5 thoughts on “What would Plato and Confucius think about modern landscape and architecture? 孔子和柏拉图会对现代建筑和园林的思考会是怎样的?

  1. Confucius

    With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow – I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness are to me as a floating cloud.

  2. Confucius

    Since the Shanghai Daily is right about my birth, as about so many things, I have asked young Tom to correct the date.


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