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Reading Yuval Noah Harari's "21 Lessons for the 21st Century", I read, Chapter 14 "Secularism", pages 211-212 of my paperback version:

I write the whole paragraph to give the context.

"It takes a lot of courage to fight biases and oppressive regimes, but it takes even greater courage to admit ignorance and venture into the unknown. Secular education teaches us that if we don't know something, we shouldn't be afraid of acknowledging our ignorance and looking for new evidence. Even if we think we know something, we shouldn't be afraid of doubting our opinions and checking our opinions again. Many people are are afraid of the unknown and want clear-cut answers for every question. Fear of the unknown can paralyze us more than any tyrant. People throughout history worried that unless we put all our faith in some set of absolute answers, human society would crumble. In fact, modern history has demonstrated that a society of courageous people willing to admit ignorance and raise difficult questions is usually not just more propsperous but also more peaceful than societies in which everyone must unquestioningly accept a single answer. People afraid of losing their truth tend to be more violent than people who are used to looking at the world from several different viewpoints. Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.

Translate just the last sentence:

Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.
对你而言, 承认不知道比盲从站不住脚的说法更好。

Please improve the translation. Maybe there is some Chinese idiomatic equivalent?

  • Thanks everyone! All answers appreciated, very grateful. If I have to choose 1 above the others, I choose Tang Ho's second answer for its penetrating conciseness! – Pedroski Sep 3 at 22:21
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    If you can accept a non-literal translation, consider this: 无解尤胜盲从. 无解: "no answers", 尤胜: "far better than", 盲从:"following something you don't know whether it's correct or not". – dan Sep 3 at 23:53
  • Thank you! This is also a very good translation, much better than my pathetic attempt! – Pedroski Sep 5 at 22:14
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Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.

A straight translation:

对你来说,(抱有)你无法解答的问题,通常远比(接受)不许你质疑的答案好 -- For you, (holding) a question that you cannot answer is usually far better than (accepting) an answer that you are not allowed to question (it's correctness)

Or a more classical interpretation: 答不问 不如 问无答 - rather have unanswerable questions than accepting unquestioned answers

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  • Thanks! I think 答不问 不如 问无答 hits the nail on the head! – Pedroski Sep 3 at 22:14
  • @Pedroski: More literally, 无法回答的问题胜于不许问的答案。 – user21820 Sep 4 at 10:48
  • @Pedroski: Also the word choice depends on what you want to convey; "回答" is literally for answering (a question asked), while "解答" is more for addressing or solving (a problem raised). Note that "question" in English can refer to both depending on the context. I chose the more literal one in my above comment. – user21820 Sep 4 at 10:53
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I'm going to drop the "you", as it seems used in a generic sense in your source text.

My take on this is (also keeps the assonance between 疑 and 题):

无疑之答不如无答之题

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  • I like this. Sounds classical enough. – Wayne Cheah Sep 3 at 15:24
  • @WayneCheah If you like it upvote it. – Mo. Sep 3 at 15:44
  • Thanks! Good call, un-you it, really is not necessary in Chinese! – Pedroski Sep 3 at 22:13
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It's similar to 「知之為知之,不知為不知,是知也」, which comes from 論語.

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  • Thank you, you really read the paragraph: "Even if we think we know something, we shouldn't be afraid of doubting our opinions and checking our opinions again." I highly recommend this book to you! Not sure why someone did not like your answer! – Pedroski Sep 3 at 22:13
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My amateurish attempt:-

毫无疑的答案,不如不回答也

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks! I'm sure this can be peppled up to something good. Let me think-think! – Pedroski Sep 3 at 22:13

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