Thursday, October 23, 2014
8

天生钢琴家?

伦敦 一 《卫报》编辑艾伦·拉斯布里哲(Alan Rusbridger)写了一部关于他如何决定每天弹20分钟钢琴的书。18个月后,他弹出了肖邦难度极高的G小调一号叙事曲,围观亲友为之倾倒。任何人都能做到这一点吗?还是说着需要特别的天分?

先天-后天争论由来已久,至今仍未解决,因为这一科学问题总是与政治纠结不清。大体说来,强调天赋异禀的是政治保守派,强调后天的是政治激进派。

19世纪哲学家约翰·穆勒是“人人都是天才”派成员。他相信他的成就跟基因优良毫无关系:任何“智力和健康状况正常者”在其父的教育制度下——包括从三岁开始学习希腊文——都可以变成约翰·穆勒。

穆勒是当时对贵族特权发起攻击的人之一:成就来自机会,而不是出身。学校(教育)实践能激发隐藏的潜能。

查尔斯·达尔文似乎扭转了这一后天努力潜在积极影响的乐观观点。达尔文说,物种通过“自然选择”进化——即通过竞争随机选择生物特征有利于在资源稀缺的世界生存的物种。赫伯特·斯宾塞用“适者生存”来解释社会演化。

社会达尔文主义者对自然选择的解读是,这意味着改善穷人条件的人道主义努力会产生过多的懒汉,从而阻碍人种进步。社会将把稀缺资源用于输家而不是赢家。这符合“野蛮”资本主义观念。

事实上,社会达尔文主义为美国人的自由放任信仰(成功商人即生存下来的适者)、优生学(按照育马模式有意识地选育超级个人,防止不适者的“过度繁育”)以及纳粹的优等人种理论提供了伪科学的论据。

为了对付社会达尔文主义这残暴倾向,穆勒的观点在二战后以社会民主的形式成为主流。改善饮食、教育、卫生和住房条件的国家行动能让穷人实现自己的潜能。竞争作为社会原则,其重要性不如合作。

先天能力的差别并没有被否认(至少理智者没有否认)。但一种正确的观念是可以通过大量工作提高成就的平均水平,然后再开始担心某政策会有利于不适者的生存不迟。

接着,情绪又开始了转变。社会民主受到了抨击,因为它惩罚成功者,奖励不成功者。1976年,生物学家理查德·道金斯识别出达尔文主义选择单元,称之为“自私的基因”。如今,进化的故事被演绎成基因生存战,随着时间的推移,各种基因通过突变保证其生存,于是产生了最适于传递基因的表型。在进化过程中,劣等表型消失了。

尽管这一进化观点在DNA发现之前根本不可能出现,但其在里根和撒切尔时代成为主流并非巧合。平心而论,在生存取决于亲族的生存时,自私的基因需要“利他”。但此利他非彼利他。此外,尽管道金斯后来又后悔将他的基因称为“自私”(他说,“不朽”更合适),但他对形容词的选择毫无疑问最适合在当时的特定时期最大化其著作销量。

此后,我们开始远离自私论,但尚未重新找到新的独立道德规则。新正统——适合不受约束的贪婪已被证明市场灾难的世界——是人类基因程序设定是让其符合道德,因为有道德(关心他人生存)能保证其自身的长期生存。

 “硬接线”比喻主导着当代道德观念。根据英国首席拉比乔纳森·萨克斯(Jonathan Sachs)的说法,宗教信仰有利于我们的生存,因为它让我们的行为变成社会合作:他最近写道“我们拥有镜像神经元,这让我们在目睹他人遭难时感同身受。”而宗教“重新配置了我们的神经通路。”简而言之,“新达尔文主义绝不排斥宗教,反而有助于我们理解为何宗教很重要。”因此我们不必担心宗教衰落。

无神论者可能不会同意。但宗教领袖作此言论是极不寻常的,因为这集中于真理和谬误,或宗教信仰的道德价值问题的一面。或者说,所有前额皮质内的通路都是道德的,因为这有助于我们的生存。但是,既然如此,那里生存着什么道德价值呢?人类的持续生存自有其价值,不论我们的成就和创造吗?

我们需要从科学角度拯救道德。我们需要维护哲学家和宗教导师时刻教导的——有一种东西叫美好生活(good life),它独立于生存之外,对它的理解需要有人教导,正如穆勒的父亲教他亚里士多德《后分析篇》的内容。我们的天性或许能驱使我们学习,但学习什么取决于后天接受。

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  1. CommentedMukesh Adenwala

    The question that I am considering is: Whether unrestrained pursuit of greed is possible without laws and enforcement of such laws or at least without an embedded belief in hell? I do not think so. In India we have a story - perhaps it reflects Indian psyche and not a human trait, but here it is: To determine how many of his subjects are honest, a king announced that this night every household must pour a pot of milk in the pond of the garden. The pond was covered with white cloth. Everyone thought that since every other person would pour milk, if he (or she) pours a pot of water it would not matter. Thus everyone ended up pouring only water.
    Without social and religious sanctions and / or legal system limiting selfish acts by punishment, I wonder if what is genetically written in our codes would convert to manifest behavior.

  2. CommentedAidan Kelly

    The piece is a good reminder of the evolution of human thought and awareness about who we are. The sentence "We need to rescue morality from the claims of science" should read "We need to rescue morality from the claims of science and religion". Religion is not morality when it is used to pit Person A against Person B or to exploit the trust of otherwise innocent persons.

  3. CommentedJ. T. G.

    Skidelsky posed the question "Does the continued survival of the human race have any value in itself, independent of what we achieve or create?"

    I pose the questions - is the earth a better place because humans evolved to what we are? would the earth be a better place if humans never evolved at all?

  4. Commentedradek tanski

    Mises said that ultimately democracy was about protecting the majority from the minority. Similarly in the finishing paragraph it seems that ethics needs some help to triumph against science and logic.

    So what is it that the dangerous minority in parallel with science and logic over ethics and morality has? And more importantly why does evolution see fit to make this minority so tenacious?

    Perhaps popular economists are pandering to the masses for possible political gains?

  5. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

    "Social Darwinism" was never intellectually respectable. It always reeked of what it was: a pathetic excuse for communally destructive theft. Dawkins could hardly have called his work the "immortal" gene as his whole point was that most genetic units become extinct and those that survive do so by adapting.
    Science says nothing on morality- nor can it. Skidelsky is correct that there is something all recognize as the good life. The world has enough resources today to provide it for all. Failing to do so is criminal.

  6. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    I fully endorse what Vineet Bewtra has said on Mutual Aid and who can forget Kropotkin’s central argument, “The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous and the most open to further progress.”

    The world would have been a different place if Kropotkin’s theme could have progressed more amongst the people than the more insidious argument about selfish nature of our existence that go against the historicity of human progress that achieved more through cooperation than through the narrowness of plundering and pillaging for furthering self-appropriation and power. The vacuous nature of our understanding of what entails human skills, expertise and prowess, has the final test in the battle field where human endurance rests on the shoulders of fellow-brethrens who must collaborate seamlessly for survival; there can be no other better example that could refute or explain why survival is so innately associated with mutual aid.



  7. Commenteddonna jorgo

    human mind is complication IS HOW OTHERS UNDERSTANTED ..HOW YOU SAID ...PLAYING ORGAN MUSICE IS TALENT EVEN SOME ONE LEARN IN FACULTET THIS IS NOT THE SAME WITH ONE IS FENOMENAL ..BUT BECAUSE YOUR COLUMN HAVE OTHER SIDE OF MEANING i have to say again is ..how understanding ..TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE HUMAN MINDE (BETTER BEFFOR CONCLUTION WRITING)
    I AM NOT AGREE WITH YOUR ARTICLE ..

  8. CommentedVineet Bewtra

    The piece reminded me a lot about Kropotkin's Mutual Aid argument which I think has been overlooked by too many (especially among the market- or competition- ideologues, which did indeed include Thatcher et al).

    The call for rescuing morality from science seems nice in principle, but seems to be based on assuming a valued position for homo sapiens. If we work on the basis that nature is indifferent to which species survive or not, then there does not need to be an ethical value for survival - indeed, a norm-driven calling for something "superior" may then seem, well, self-indulgent for any species.

    Perhaps I misinterpret it, but Mutual Aid always seemed like showing why co-operation is also vitally important. That may seem instrumentalist, but I don't see why that takes away from the beauty or resonance (or normative value) of ethics, empathy or co-operation. Certainly co-operation needs to be brought back in to the tent - pure competition is not enough and seems like an evolutionarily-foolish strategy to use exclusively?

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