首页 > 学术文献 > Martha Nussbaum:“决非偶然之事”:哲学与公共生活(吴万伟译,附原文)

Martha Nussbaum:“决非偶然之事”:哲学与公共生活(吴万伟译,附原文)

2010年10月26日 发表评论 阅读评论


曾经有个时期,人们讲授柏拉图的《理想国》,但很少有人把它记在心上。苏格拉底和充满热情的朋友(在节日和夜晚的火炬接力赛间隙挤出一点时间研究哲学)讨论正义的本质问题,他注意到他们对哲学探索的更细腻部分采取非常随便的和玩世不恭的态度,似乎认为这是竞争性游戏,所以严厉地指责他们。他说,请别忘了 “我们讨论的决非偶然之事,而是一个人该如何生活的大事。”四百多年后在罗马,塞涅卡(Seneca)再次批评那些把哲学当作一种逻辑游戏来追求的人。他说“你没有时间玩耍,你已经成为不幸者的顾问,已经承诺要给海难受害者、囚犯和病人、穷人和头脑被有毒的斧头砍伤的人提供帮助。你的注意力转移到什么地方了?你在干什么呢?”Ep. 48,8)哲学有现实的任务,造福人类的任务。所以希腊罗马哲学传统的典型特征就是全体一致地坚守这个阵地。如果不能在科研和教学上履行自己的任务,哲学将理所当然地被当作“空谈”和琐碎的花招而遭抛弃。正如伊壁鸠鲁(Epicurus)指出的,“根本无法减弱一点人类的苦难的哲学论证就是空谈。正如药品若不能治疗身体的疾病就没有了用途一样,哲学若不能治疗灵魂的痛苦,它的用途何在呢?”

当今学术界的保守言论常常把自古希腊开始的西方哲学的伟大传统描述为在学术研究和教学中反对任何“政治动机”的传统,一种敦促将从前的经典著作内置化,根本不考虑教育的实际后果的传统。当然,这种文化适应项目本身也有政治性,至少在如下两个方面:它将说服接人们受某些价值观同时忽略其他价值观,与此同时,在塑造公民过程中贬低批判性思考的作用。这种做法在民主社会不可避免地造成严重的政治后果。但笔者在本文中关心的是保守派建议的另一方面:虽然求助于古希腊传统的权威和尊严,该建议的指导精神却与古希腊传统格格不如。实际上该传统坚持认为哲学应该具有实际的目标,如果没有了这个目标,哲学探索和教学就成为可有可无的自我陶醉的游戏,这真是一个奇怪的事实。正如我们即将看到的,古希腊传统还认为批判性的审查传统是哲学追求自己目标的方法中的重要因素,所以在另一个方式上,这等于反对保守派所强调的轻易认同“千古不变的真理”。

这种充满激情的实践哲学观—坚信人性善和通过推理和论证追求善的哲学观是最初吸引我研究哲学的原因,无论是当作家还是当教师。这里,我想谈一谈这种哲学观的历史,但首先我要提出一个问题:作为美国的大学教师,我们当今该如何从事哲学研究。认识到改造生活的古代哲学概念对当今多数大学生显得多么陌生,这一点非常重要。在教育不是改造自我而是掌握某些课程内容的大学体系中,学生们在接触哲学时是把它当作众多课程中的另外一门课而已,他们很可能把柏拉图、亚里士多德、伊壁鸠鲁、塞涅卡的著作当作需要囫囵吞枣了解的更多知识而不是用来挑战其生活方式的。我在古典伦理学思想课程的期末考试中,常常让学生想象他们喜欢的希腊和罗马哲学家如果来到布朗大学(作者在写本文时在此教书—译注)可能会做什么。他如何对待学生,他的讲授内容是什么。典型的平凡答案是梦想柏拉图或伊壁鸠鲁可能开设的课程。学生们很难想到还有其他形式的教育。相反,更深刻的答案则要求人们想象师生的整个互动方式,如何质疑课程设置和讲授,如何把课程和私人和公共生活的其他方面联系起来等等。实际上,接下来我试图回答自己出的考试题,并提出一些想法说明我在实际的教学中是如何回答这些问题的。

我已经说过教师和哲学家的工作是让人生变得更美好。但我们需要更准确地描述我们理解的改造现实方式的特征,尤其是理解为什么认为困难的和强有力的哲学论证活动对改善生活非常重要。该传统的代表人物伊壁鸠鲁对哲学的定义是“运用推理和严格的论证去促进人类繁荣幸福的活动。”但更准确地说,哲学论证怎样促进人类繁荣幸福呢?幸福生活的哪些方面是需要哲学论证的帮助呢?我这里说的可能有些粗略和简单(事实上这是我刚刚完成的一本探讨古代伦理学思想的理论和实践的关系的书的概要),但我希望,它足以提供我在讨论教学时的参照系。我认为哲学教育的现实目标有两个:理性的自我考察和世界公民。

哲学教育的目标是培养某种公民:首先,此人不是风俗习惯或者流行言论的盲从者,而是一个能够对最重要的事进行独立思考的人,在接受某个观点之前会批判性地仔细审查,逐渐认识到这些观点是否连贯、如何连贯以及怎样为自己辩护等。苏格拉底有一句名言“没有经过审视和内省的生活不值得过”,他认为完全受规范和权威指导的人类生活是不完整的生活,完整的人生应该是充满了积极的批判性自省的生活。因为在很多情况下,被仔细审查的观念是社会教导的观念,这种自省也是一种社会批评。苏格拉底认为,这种批评对民主社会的健康运行是不可缺少的。他把雅典政权比作一匹驽马,而他自己就是一只不断叮它、让它具有活力的牛虻。

希腊罗马斯多葛派哲学把苏格拉底的画面再推进一步,描述了理性地批判规范从而改善社会生活的一些方法。比如,他们认为对人生尽头的严肃而深刻的考察将说服我们相信金钱和社会地位远没有通常想象的那么重要:它们本身没有任何价值,只是在改善具有真正价值的某些人类活动方面有一定用途。他们看到,如果学生接受这些论证的结论不仅会改变学生的思想,还将改造其欲望和感情。一个并不在乎社会地位的人是不会对所谓的怠慢或冒犯感到恼火的,一个不追求金钱的人更不会利用别人的劳动去发财。而且,如果一个人逐渐认识到人类尊严的真正来源不是金钱和地位而是理性,他就会尊重所有理性者,不管其阶级、性别、国籍如何,一律平等对待。如果人人都能够尊重他人,平等待人,整个社会生活将彻底发生改变。
斯多葛派之前的亚里士多德在此画面之上添加了另一个更重要内容。他认识到哲学伦理学老师不仅仅是培养到社会群体中生活的个人,而且是培养社会生活的领导者和设计者,这些人走出校门后可能去制订法律甚至制订宪法。他认为,这些人明白人生的最重要目标是什么非常重要和迫切,因为如果他们不清楚这些目标,就很难成为称职的领导人。在亚里士多德看来,领袖应该为所有公民提供需要的东西以便人们能够体面地生活。亚里士多德与苏格拉底和斯多葛派的不同在于,他相信某种程度的物质生活是与人生目标同样重要的活动所需要的基本条件—虽然物质生活本身不是目的。人们在饥饿的情况下很难冷静思考。如果一个人被剥夺了作为公民的权利和利益,他就不可能公正地行动。如果一无所有就无法慷慨大方。如果被奴役被限制自由,他就无法维持友谊。亚里士多德对物质和制度资源有助于我们按真正人道的方式行动的深刻分析在政治思想上具有十分重要的影响,尤其是在马克思早期有关工人被剥夺充分的人性的异化思想中。亚里士多德的结论是政权设计者需要认识到所有这一切以便确保政权设计让“任何人”都有机会有效地追求幸福生活。不过,人们认识到这些是通过哲学教育实现的,因为哲学教育教导人们理性地批判传统,深刻地反省自己珍视的所有价值观。

亚里士多德倾向于关注学生作为社会群体的成员资格和义务。但他推荐的批评性思考要求人们进行彻底的跨文化研究以便看到他人提出的好观点,或者看到本来好的观点如何变坏。亚里士多德曾要求学生收集他知道的世上158种政治组织的信息,因此制作了西方思想史上第一个多元文化课程(虽然希罗多德实际上被认为是该领域的先驱)。亚里士多德认为良好公民素质的目标是作为城邦成员资格的目标,他对人们如何对待生活在城外的人没有提出什么见解。

但是,斯多葛派认为该目标对哲学教育来说过于狭隘。因为明显的原因,罗马斯多葛派特别强调我们生活在一个复杂的相互依赖的世界这个事实,这个世界的优秀公民应该具有超越个人狭隘边界的能力。他们坚持应该让学生认识到每个人都是两个社会的成员:一个是我们出生的社会,它带着我们深刻的归属感和道德上没有经过反省的偏见和随意性的地方偏好,一个是整个人类社会。教育的任务必须是让学生认识到这个更大的社会,它常常被根深蒂固的地方身份认同和异常清晰的差异隐藏起来,从而认识不到自己也是人类社会的一员。这意味着他们必须能够认识人性,即首先有能力思考人生目标,不管这个目标是在哪里发现的,不管是男人还是女人,奴隶还是自由人,“野蛮人”还是希腊人罗马人。但要做到这一点,他们就必须能够对话,用智慧和敏感的方式与人类同胞对话,进行有意义的交流。正如塞涅卡常常指出的,要求人们了解他人的历史、职业和可能偏见。所以他们必须了解台伯河(Tiber意大利中部河流—译注)之外的世界。

我为这种哲学任务的概念所深深感动。其实,如果我不相信确实有这样的任务的话,我很可能无法说服自己心安理得地享受给我带来快乐的哲学写作和教学的生活方式。在这样的生活中,我实现了自我表现和自我定义的自由,这在学界之外的地方很难找到。如果没有这个任务,我很可能难以容忍这种自我满足和自我陶醉的生活。但在大学讲授哲学的事实并不能自动地推出结论,此人就是在追求古代思想家描绘的现实的政治目标。实际上,现代学术界的碎片化和它与社会的分离使得人们很难看到究竟该如何追求这种目标。这些特征本来非常宝贵的,因为学术专业化有利于追求卓越和创新,而学术界和社会分离能保护学界免受压迫。哲学任务的问题因为人们不能像古代思想家那样自由地重新设计教学结构和模式而变得更加复杂。苏格拉底可能讨厌我们大班上课模式的一切,但这并不能让人们自由地使用他的做法。更复杂的问题是我们的众多学生,因为这不利于他们拥有广泛的生活经验,他们本来应该从生活中或社会力量的作用中培养理性思考的能力的。(亚里士多德拒绝为年轻人讲授伦理学和政治学)所以在撰写关于古代思想家的话题时,我必须思考他们的目标在多大程度上可以在我的教学活动中实现。在此过程中,这些思想家尤其是斯多葛派对教育的观察对我非常有帮助。

我认为,首先和最重要的是伦理学教学必须向学生传递伦理学问题的复杂性和紧迫性的认识,让理论与他们自己的生活问题直接结合起来,而且以栩栩如生的方式戏剧化地呈现出来。实际上,这是以希腊罗马哲学家作为伦理学的好开端的原因之一。因为像柏拉图、塞涅卡和伊壁鸠鲁等作家都思考过戏剧场面和紧急情况在哲学写作上的作用,后人在这方面再也没有超越过他们。人们在阅读如《会饮》(Symposium)或者《理想国》时,不可能认为哲学不过是乏味的逻辑推理游戏。但老师在这里必须也扮演一个角色:我在讲课时把大部分精力花在如何给学生讲清楚议题,尤其是把深刻的人类问题戏剧化,然后显示这个或那个解决办法的优劣。我想让学生看到哲学立场是解决问题的尝试,立场的矛盾冲突不仅仅是思想问题而且是在某些恼人的两难困境中做出道路选择从而选择不同生活方式的问题。我还想让他们明白在很多情况下,哲学提出的解决方案往往过于简单根本无法对付问题的复杂性。我不希望学生成为盲目的哲学爱好者,而是希望他们不断返回到自己的生活中询问什么合适什么充分,简而言之,学会自我反省。

撰写过伊壁鸠鲁的哲学话语的亚利安(Arrian)指出,在写作中他只能抓住伊壁鸠鲁教学法的一部分:因为他不仅用他的话而且用他的声音和手势进行交流。实际上,我发现自己在当演员的那些年所掌握的表现技能在哲学交流中决非可有可无的,尤其是在现代大学的背景下,人们没有苏格拉底式的与单个学生面对面交流的选择。所有传统学校推荐的与每个学生个别交流的方法在课堂上都不能直接实现。但我认为,可以通过展现充分的人类丰富性和戏剧化场面激发每个学生寻找自己的矛盾冲突来接近这个理想(实际上,塞涅卡和伊壁鸠鲁本人都使用了这种方式)。有时候可以采用塞涅卡的方式,即使用历史和当今例子阐释所讨论的问题。我的论文作业常常要求学生思考与实际例子相联系的问题,要么从他们自己的生活中要么从当代公共生活中选取事例。

但是,我从事的工作不仅仅是将问题戏剧化和探讨问题的解决办法,而且是在显示理性论证在促使个人或社会在达成解决问题办法时所发挥的力量。哲学不仅仅是给人带来快乐的古老学问,而且是通过推理和论证获得幸福的生活。要做到这一点并不容易。塞涅卡和伊壁鸠鲁描述了普通哲学学生是有特权的半吊子,他们往往太喜欢逻辑推理游戏,在探索撒谎者困境时没有想到自己的谎言,在阅读克吕西普(Chrysippus)有关逻辑难题的文章时,并不思考自己世界的难题。哲学家需要克服的毛病不是拒绝思考过分复杂的问题而是拒绝思考真正的问题。而要认识到这种排斥,就需要依靠戏剧场面和个人的现身说法。哲学家也知道另外一种学生,这些学生认为传统规范很好,哲学没有什么作用。但他们遇见的这种人很少,因此,为了想象与这样的人对话而引起的愤怒情绪,塞涅卡必须想象自己和几乎无法表达自己思想的亲弟弟对话。在美国的本科生教学中,我们常常发现这种学生,他们往往是因为必修课的要求来上哲学课的。当然,我们也见过一些热衷复杂逻辑的超级学生。但如今这种特别聪明可能呈现不同的形式:蔑视理性和论证。我作为布朗大学本科生老师面对的最持久问题之一不是让聪明的学生思考真正的哲学问题,而且是让他们尊重哲学所能提供的逻辑审查技能。因为太常见的情况是他们接受了没有仔细考察的观点,竟至于认为理性是全能的,真理和客观性是帝国主义的两个教条。当然,如果他们愿意从哲学角度考察这些观点,可以与他们一起深入探讨和审查形形色色的相对主义和反基础主义的哲学基础。这些学生在推理不清、充斥术语的论文没有得到好成绩时可能非常恼火,如果他们竟然承认哲学审查与其观点相关,人们或许仍然希望通过显示他们竭力推动的社会目标(如反帝国主义、反性别歧视,反种族主义)并没有得到否认一个观点比另一个观点更好,一个立场比另一个立场更强大的主张的支持来说服他们。我在教学和写作中就是不断这么做的。简而言之,哲学的现实目标的紧迫性能够赢得人们对其程序和方法的尊重。

当今学术界的哲学教学必须使用书籍。如果使用得当,书籍实际上能够在推动学生的自我反省方面发挥宝贵作用。柏拉图的《斐德若篇》(Phaedrus)中的人物苏格拉底表达了对书面文本的怀疑,理由是它们对所有学生讲的内容都一样,根本没有考虑不同的背景和需要。而且书籍推动他所说的“智慧的虚假理解”,让学生误认为仅仅靠掌握文本中的内容就变得聪明起来,而不是引导学生进行批判性论证。塞涅卡在他关于自由教育的著名信件中重复了很多这种观点。但柏拉图和塞涅卡仍然写书,显然他们认为书籍虽然有危险,在教育上还是能发挥积极的作用。人们制订一个哲学经典的书单,把它们贴上“伟大著作”的标签时,哲学著作的危险最大。因为这种可怕的程序显示这些书才是权威,贬低自己思考的地位,促成人们对经典顶礼膜拜的态度,这和真正的哲学思考是格格不如的。但是,正如塞涅卡坚持的,书的使用有多种方式,它也可以为活生生的论证过程提供营养。亚里士多德补充说,如果我们不阅读前人的最好作品就可能再次犯同样的错误。如果我们读过这些作品,至少能避免他们帮助我们避免的错误,我们甚至能够在批评性地思考这些著作后取得超越它们的进步。

就是本着这种精神,我在讲课时试图把希腊哲学传统的作品当作思想高尚、关系密切的“好朋友”,可以深入和细致地讨论问题的伙伴,这些著作能训练我们独立思考。我们的目标总是思考。伊壁鸠鲁讲了一个年轻人的故事,此人来到他面前吹嘘已经掌握了克吕西普有关选择的著作。伊壁鸠鲁回答说:“如果你是运动员,过来告诉我说在你的房间里有一套新的举重杠铃,我不会说‘太好了。你做得对。’相反,我会说“现在就让我们看看你的举重本领啊”。书籍就像训练思想的杠铃,除非人们能显示依靠它的帮助成为思想深刻、感情细腻的人,否则它就没有任何用途。

我们现在谈论第二个目标:培养世界公民。在很大程度上,学习古希腊哲学家的著作也能够推动这个目标,因为这些著作主要探讨的是人们在很多地方和时间都要面临的问题。我们也不应该忘记在学习希腊哲学家时我们接触的是不同于我们自己的文化,不得不考虑我们与他们的异同。我认为,学术界对世界公民的追求显然需要其他策略,这些策略不仅不会颠覆“西方传统的学习”,反而使得它更加准确。

当今人类最紧迫问题的辩论越来越有国际性,为了成为合格的世界公民,学生需要意识到参与辩论的其他文化传统的复杂性,不仅了解其他国家的文化而且要了解多样化国家内部的其他族群。学生们需要具有文化敏感性,能够与其他传统的成员对话。这种敏感性要求学生掌握人类的共性和特性。当然,现在试图让本科生教育花费“同等时间”学习世界所有文化是愚蠢的。每个学生都了解一些其他文化,对任何一种文化都没有深刻认识。但精心设计的多元文化项目至少向学生显示西方文化的某些看法可能很狭隘,指导学生如何考察新的和不同的文化,这是完全可能的。正如保守派批评家常常指控的,这样的目标隐含着文化相对主义或者认为一切观点都有道理,偏偏没有理性地批判传统的空间。在贬低理性的氛围见识批评方式的学生很容易犯错误。这是我仍然坚持认为理性和推理的哲学在当今有关多元文化的辩论中仍然能够发挥关键作用的原因。在这场辩论中,希腊哲学家做出了宝贵的贡献,因为他们一再地显示了把注意力集中在学生的生活方式及其社会根源上,但这并不意味着搁置理性批评,对背景的关心与追求普遍的人类之善的目标完全一致。

我们作为古典学家也不应该认为大学中的多元文化主义会破坏我们的事业。常常有人问我怎么能在支持多元文化主义目标的情况下继续讲授古希腊经典呢?似乎这两个目标之间存在紧张关系。其实,正如我上文指出的,学习古希腊实际上能向我们显示支持多元文化主义合理目标的有力论证,多元文化主义也促进我们作为古典学家的科研和教学,因为它让我们意识到经典中的特殊性和地方性内涵,通过认识到经典在不同背景下的定义而加深我们对经典的理解。(它能向我们显示人类跨越文化和历史鸿沟的丰富的共性)。支持多元文化主义能够让我们失去某些客户,那些因为核心课程要求被迫上我们课的学生和那些因为要成为权威而想读希腊经典的人。但我认为这不是真正的损失,我们必须寻找那些为了正确推理而学习经典的学生:他们学习经典是因为这些著作本身,是因为我们对这些著作的讲授充满活力和令人神往,因为经典显示了对我们具有重要意义的文明史,因为经典探讨了多数人都要面临的种种大问题,提出了值得我们尊重、认真研究和独立批评的论证。

到现在为止,我一直在讨论课堂和课程等教学问题。但大学老师也是学者和作家,他的部分活动与其教学角色密切相关。因为一方面老师向学生讲明哲学论证和改善公共生活之间的密切联系,另一方面,老师本人作为积极参与公共事务的公民,其思想指导了他的政治角色。如果老师告诉学生哲学论证的主要目的是提升公共文化,然后证明人们不需要和公共文化有任何互动,学生们将理所当然地询问为什么不,这不是自相矛盾了吗?当然,现在的问题可能有个令人满意的答案。因为人们可能发现,个人能够为公共文化做出贡献的最好方法实际上是当老师,培养未来的工作者和专业人士以及政治家来思考有助于社会公平正义的方法。人们也可能认为能体现哲学在自己生活中的影响的最好办法是成为善于思考的家长和公民,这些和专业哲学活动没有多少联系,他们热心从事各种公民活动,热爱自己的家人,用自己的部分收入从事实现社会和政治目标的事业。

但是,我相信公共哲学还有能够发挥作用的另一种工作。这是柏拉图、亚里士多德、塞涅卡当时都试图从事的工作,即通过自己的思考和写作阐明对公众的紧迫问题上的看法。这是当今美国哲学教授很少从事的工作,也是自约翰·杜威和威廉·詹姆斯以来没有做好的工作。其中有一些原因:美国是一个反智主义的社会,市侩倾向严重,对任何自命的“文化精英”都抱着深刻怀疑的态度。因此很少有机构可以让美国哲学教授面向大众谈论问题,即使他们对大众讲了,也不会像德国、法国、英国的哲学家们那样受到认真对待。虽然如此,部分原因也归咎于哲学界本身,哲学家们的话语常常包含晦涩难解的术语,他们还没有学会和非专家进行交流的写作技能。

我在这方面花了很多功夫,因为我觉得我的最根本身份还是作家,那是我能够做的也知道该如何做好的事。担任公职不是我的强项,我也没有很多的金钱可以贡献出来。如果我要为公众做贡献的话,通过我的工作找到办法当然最好。另一方面,我认为公共生活需要哲学思想,而现在还远没有得到充分满足,人们需要批评性思考和严密推理来展开有关人类迫切议题的辩论。所以我觉得,把我的部分工作投入到这个目标中是非常重要的,只有这样做才能说服我现在过的生活的合理性,心安理得地从自己的哲学教学和写作中得到满足和享受。

首先我要说的是为了个人的写作和为了普通大众的写作之间的选择不一定是相互排斥的或你死我活的。因为实际上,普通大众渴望探讨伦理学和政治议题的哲学著作,只要作品通俗易懂。哲学期刊的糟糕写作质量是毫无理由的,这常常是懒惰的结果,看似非常准确的架势实际上不准确。完全有可能写出有思想深度甚至感人至深的文章让受到大学教育的大众可以兴趣盎然地理解。因此,我总是尽量用通俗语言写哪怕最具有学术性的专业著作。《善的脆弱性:古希腊悲剧和哲学中的运气与伦理》本不是面向大众的著作,该书有400页,100多页注释,而且是小字印刷,里面充斥着引用和注释,但实际上该书有相当多的非学术界读者,它的惊人销量和我收到的各种来信可以作证。(给我通讯的人甚至报告说他们喜欢注释,因为这帮助他们确定就这个话题寻找的其他材料,让他们明白辩论的来龙去脉)很简单,我写此书就是因为这个问题很重要,我试图把它对我的重要性传达给读者,向读者显示我研究哲学的动机。我希望我最近完成的有关希腊伦理学的书《欲望的治疗》也能得到大众的喜欢。虽然这可能更困难,因为本书讨论的是人们更不熟悉的古典文献。

与此同时,我把自己的部分时间用来撰写直接面向大众的通俗文章。我们的公共媒体使得这个任务很不容易:书评或许是面向广大读者的唯一方式,如果刊登有关哲学著作的深入讨论的话,很少有地方能够让人的影响力超越学术界以外。《纽约时报书评》的出现频率非常低,而且没有严肃的思想讨论(它曾经让我写一篇600 字的文章评论福柯的《性史》,《纽约书评》、《伦敦书评》、《泰晤士报文学副刊》以及最近的《新共和》文学副刊已经成为这些领域英美公共讨论的主要渠道)。在某种程度上,你是否被邀请为这些期刊撰写书评是偶然之事。不过,一旦有人邀请,他就必须愿意采取新的和积极配合的写作模式。这些编辑不仅仅是发表作者写出来的东西,无论多么喜欢这个作家。他们很清楚自己的读者能理解什么不能理解什么,因此对每篇文章都有一个漫长的编辑和重新写作的过程。(《泰晤士报文学副刊》在这方面做得最少,因为英国读者普遍拥有共同的背景,学术水平相对高些。)这种做法对于珍视自己的文字的人来说最初肯定是令人吃惊和不快。但我已经学会充分尊重语言规范、读者的感受、《纽约书评》的鲍伯·西弗斯(Bob Silvers)和《新共和》的里昂·维森特尔(Leon Wieseltier)等编辑的常识。

学者们有时候贬低这种活动,认为它们不过是新闻报道。但我可以向他们保证,就像好的本科生课程一样,这种文章要求对所讨论话题的更熟练的掌握和更准确的认识。通常我写这种文章时,手头摆放所有的材料和论证,都是长长的详细的学术评论,然后我必须询问最重要的东西是什么?怎样把复杂的思想用通俗易懂的话表达出来?这个活动非常类似本科生教学,我认为,如果自己不搞哲学,他就很难把哲学讲好。同样的,如果没有自己的观点和感受,你就无法写出好的通俗文章来。
美国电视很少为严肃的思想讨论提供机会。但当机会来临时,那是一个特别有回报的接近大众的方式,比频繁地写作更接近你的教学。我做过两次电视节目,一次是为英国广播公司的《伟大哲学家》的系列节目,谈论亚里士多德,一次是为公共广播公司的“比尔·莫耶斯(Bill Moyers)的思想世界”节目。两次都让我获益很大,虽然方式不同。第一次事先做了充分的准备,节目就像讲座和对话,第二次是更加深入的范围广泛的即兴对话,里面谈到众多伦理学问题。各有其优势,我认为每次都发挥了宝贵的教育作用。如果我觉得没有机会进行严肃的讨论和持久的辩论的话,我就拒绝到电视台做节目。我的下一个计划是德国电视台关于“美国哲学的倾向和传统”的系列节目。我希望这个活动给我向新观众(通过会议)谈谈我的新认识的机会。不过,这种公共哲学活动有很多曲折和陷阱。回顾起来,一个是人们花很多时间谈论并不值得多谈的观点,仅仅因为如果不加约束,言论的影响力有可能是破坏性的。花费一个多月的时间考察阿兰·布鲁姆(Allan Bloom)的思想(这里作者指此人的著作《美国思想的封闭》—译注)并不是令人愉快的事,我也没有因此加深我对任何一个问题的理解。另一方面,批评他的书对公众来说还是很重要的,如果这是思想牺牲的话,我觉得花费这个时间是值得的。更令人担忧的危险是电视学者可能被公众吞噬,失掉了自己作为思想家的本分。一个人有必要尽一切可能保卫自己免受时间和空间的入侵,如果不想失去自我的话。有时候人们发现,成为名人的代价实在太大了。我曾经尽很大努力不把电话公布出来,但在过去的3个小时时间里我已经接到14个电话,我在写这篇文章的一个句子时就有三个电话打进来。

除了时间问题外,还有个人形象问题。公众世界希望把人装在整齐的套子里使其成为媒体人物和表演艺术家。我认为你必须选择:你想过那种生活还是想成为哲学家?具体来说,我认为这意味着在你接受邀请时千万要小心。(我拒绝上奥普拉·温弗瑞(Oprah Winfrey)的节目和阿兰·布鲁姆辩论)对发表的东西非常明智而审慎,要确保它表达个人对理性的承诺,塑造严谨的哲学家的形象。这并不意味着写作的时候没有辛辣和诙谐,而是说不要听起来牵强和教条。因为发表辩论性文章太容易不过了,我认为尤其重要的是确保文章有积极的东西,表现出公平对待对手的精神。对你不喜欢的书嘲笑挖苦太容易了,但进行哲学上的批评是另外一回事。正是在这方面,我们学界人士不要陷入美国政治常见的那种纯粹标语口号式攻击漫骂的泥坑。我非常高兴我的听众事先并不完全肯定我要讲什么东西,那些阅读过我的著作的人相信我不会说没有论证支持的话,相信我跟从论证指引的方向走。这就是为什么我觉得发表我对理查德·波斯纳(Richard Posner)的《性与理性》的赞许性书评(《新共和》4月份那期)非常重要。在很多左派看来,波斯纳是右翼思想家所以根本不看他的论证。(《纽约时报》上对这本书的评论就是一个非常坏的例子)我仔细阅读了本书,发现它是一本非常深入和细腻的著作,在很多方面给人留下深刻印象,我表达了这样的看法。我可以告诉你,我的赞扬让很多左派朋友很不高兴,为此,我很高兴,因为如果一个人成为某种政治观点的代言人,在遭遇的每本书上都不加批评地采用政治观点评判,那他就不再是哲学家了。

我已经谈论了面向公众发言的问题,但哲学家还有影响公共生活的很多其他方法。在过去20年里我们已经看到“应用伦理学”的蓬勃发展,其中哲学家越来越多地与医生、律师、商人互动,讨论这些职业领域的伦理学问题。我的同事丹·布罗克(Dan Brock)就是我国医学伦理学的领袖之一,他做的工作(比如关于病人利益和病人自主权之间的关系)影响了全世界各个国家的医生行为和美国联邦和州政府层次上的立法起草工作。他能够具有如此深远的影响仅仅因为他摈弃了不卷入的立场:他花费一年时间在当地医院考察,然后每个学期花费部分时间给医学院学生上课,与医生进行交流。这里,理论和实践以一种非常有成效的方式结合起来。

我自己参与的首先是法律领域。到现在为止,我已经在法学院进行了一系列的演讲和讲座。在1993-4学年我将在芝加哥大学法学院访问一个学期,讲授法律和文学课程。当我发现接到法学院的邀请时感到非常意外。我在想是什么促成了这种事,不久我发现当今法律界对可以作为经济学的狭隘理性描述的替代物的理性范式具有浓厚兴趣。在这方面,他们一直求助于亚里士多德,看了我有关亚里士多德的“非科学思考”的著作。一旦进入法学院,我的反对功利主义的倾向受到高贵的但影响很大的职业场景所刺激,法律职业否认自己历史洞察力的复杂性以便追求经济学功利主义的极具诱惑力的伪科学的简单化。它的对立面似乎是没有武装的:那些认为拥有众多无法衡量的善的人被贴上非理性主义者的标签,而且接受了这个标签。那些认为感情在道德推理中发挥作用的人被指控抛弃了理性,而且承认了这种指控。我们显然需要做一些工作:说明理性是什么,也就是阐明亚里士多德的理性思考,解释为什么经济理性可能是非理性的。我越来越发现从事这个工作令人着迷,因为它好像与我的职业资格和兴趣十分吻合。

在很多情况下,法律界人士只对付美国人生活的问题,以学术界圈内人的方式对付这些问题。这在某种意义上是好的,因为这意味着通过讲课和出版等通常的学术界渠道,人们实际上能够产生影响力。法官也读书,至少某些法官读书。人们写的东西如果被法官阅读,哪怕只改变一两个人的思想就可能产生重大影响。目前,我对法律界不是非常乐观。我认为像波斯纳这样的法官—有学术修养、思想开明、同情心—非常罕见,无论在最高法院还是在低级法院都是如此。另一方面,我至少希望通过在这方面的深入思考和写作,用我所受的教育和禀性所写的作品带来某些变化。

我实际工作的其他领域的情景要复杂得多。这就是国际发展研究和政策制订领域。在过去7年里我一直是赫尔辛基世界发展经济学研究院(WIDER)研究顾问,这是一个与联合国有联系的研究机构,其功能是开发新的跨学科途径来解决发展中国家的经济问题。我参与了一个课题,考察衡量这些国家“生活质量” 的标准的不同方法。该课题旨在把哲学家和经济学家集中起来以便更进一步地阐明问题。我作为专门研究古代世界的哲学家的经验与当今发展的某些迫切议题以令人着迷的方式结合起来。提出建立在古希腊思想尤其是亚里士多德的基础上的衡量生活质量的途径,结合还有经济学中最杰出成果共同产生解决问题的新途径。

情景是这样的。当政府想知道他们做的工作如何或国际机构想弄清不同国家的表现如何时,需要知道寻找什么标准。所以他们需要某些判断人类幸福生活的概念,以及最可能产生有关幸福生活的可靠数据的方法。通常,经济学家提供的是随意的肤浅的方式。以人均国民生产总值的形式出现的富裕(Opulence)是最常见的衡量标准,但非常明显的是该标准甚至没有考虑财富和收入的分配问题,更不要说提出如财富和收入在推动人们的生活质量提高上发挥的作用等更深刻的问题了。亚里士多德坚持认为要了解一个城市的表现是否优秀,人们必须不仅看一个阶级而且要看每个阶级每个人的情况。他清楚某些特别有钱的公民会剥夺最贫穷的社会成员的最基本生活条件。正是因为这些洞察力,他的著作才对马克思如此重要。

在复杂程度上更进一步,我们有了通过功效衡量生活质量的途径,即询问人们对自己生活的满意度。该途径的好处是关注人本身和资源在人的生活中的作用。但它忽略了对所有希腊哲学家都非常关键的事实:也就是人们的欲望不一定是说明什么对自己有利的可靠指标。富人和得到过分满足的人已经习惯于奢侈的生活,对他们可能像别人一样的待遇可能表现出极端的不满。穷人和被剥夺了种种机会的人逐渐适应了所拥有的一切,尤其是在他们没有得到教育的话,尤其是这些国家中受到传统观念约束的许多妇女,往往是逆来顺受。我们的课题是根据亚里士多德的人性论找到替代这两种途径的新途径。我们认为政府应该真正询问的是在人类生活的众多重要方面,公民实际上能够生活得如何。该途径提出了家长制的幽灵,所以我们花费了很多时间打败文化相对主义的论证和当时流行的客观性,试图认为对多元化和敏感性的合理担忧并不破坏我们提出人性发展的普遍规范。我们也重新修改了途径,使其对文化多样性更敏感。考虑到生殖技术的新进步,我们正在观察它对家庭和性行为的未来的隐含意义。如果这个研究院的新主任(刚刚当选的)支持这种哲学途径,我们将继续考察在世界不同地区实际推行这个途径以实际设计社会项目的工作。

这工作在我看来非常激动人心,但同时也十分令人沮丧。激动人心是因为我进入了一个多样的国际世界,其中哲学论证可能实际上解释最迫切需要的东西。这些议题 —尤其是和发展中国家的女性有关的议题在我看来非常迫切,这使得我对很难取得进步感到十分沮丧。这些国家非常多,情况复杂,我们根本不清楚任何一个思想途径尤其是国际主义者的和世俗主义者的途径能够产生多大的影响力。不管怎样,影响力问题取决于我既不理解又不能控制的因素。主流经济学思想对类似的任何修改都持非常坚定的排斥态度,即使在思想界也存在公平听证的众多障碍。与此同时,哲学家通常在这方面的文章写得不够好,没有多大说服力。所以我希望在未来五年里,我要写一本能够对公共政策产生广泛影响的书,即使不能改变主流的经济学思想。即便如此,政策实施仍然取决于政治,而政治在如今越来越具有离心倾向和种族中心主义倾向。我或许可以补充一点,这对世界上的很多女性来说绝对是很糟糕的预兆。

在此,我或许已经偏离教学的话题太远了。但我相信一个人的整个人生在某种方式上是在教室里的。在这个意义上,个人信念就在他的性格和他看待世界的方式中,也在遭遇到的可以用来阐释抽象道德观点的迫切的伦理学和政治议题的人生经验中。我知道,自己从在印度和赫尔辛基的工作中对世界的了解改变了我给学生讲授希腊哲学家著作的方式,使得我更能够在讲授“西方文明”传统材料时追求世界公民的目标。最重要的是,我希望成为热情地沉浸在人生伦理学议题中的人,一个决不逃避履行这些承诺所需的风险的人,同时是一个热爱哲学,相信履行承诺的最好办法是传授哲学推理和思考,并从这种活动中获得快乐和幸福的人。我也希望我的学生成为这样的人。伊壁鸠鲁说过“通过对哲学的热烈的爱,什么样的人类苦难都可消除。”这当然是过分乐观的看法,但把它当作指导我们行动的理想和教学的“政治动机”还是很不错的。

"No Chance Matter":
Philosophy and Public Life

Martha C. Nussbaum
I

There is a moment in Plato’s Republic that is often taught, but rarely taken to heart. Discussing the nature of justice with his enthusiastic friends (who have squeezed in a little philosophy betwen a festival and an evening torch race), Socrates observes their rather uncommitted, playful attitude to the finer points of the inquiry, which they seem to regard as a competitive game. He reproves them. Remember, he says: "It is no chance matter we are discussing, but how one should live." More than four hundred years later, in Rome, Seneca again attacks those who pursue philosophy as a kind of logical game-playing. "There is no time," he says, "for playing around. You have been retained as counsel for the unhappy. You have promised to bring help to the shipwrecked, the imprisoned the sick, the needy, to those whose heads are under the poised axe. Where are you deflecting your attention? What are you doing?" (Ep. 48,8). Philosophy has a practical task, a task for humanity. So the Greco-Roman philosophical tradition holds, with remarkable unanimity. If it fails to perform this task, in its research and in its teaching, it will be rightly dismissed as "empty" and trivial. As Epicurus puts it, "Empty is that philosophical argument by which no human suffering is therapeutically treated. For just as there is no use in medicine, unless it casts out the illness of bodies, so too there is no use in philosophy, unless it casts out suffering from the soul."

It is common in today’s conservative rhetoric about the academy to portray the great tradition of Western philosophy, starting with the Greeks, as a tradition that opposes any sort of "political motivation" for academic teaching and research, a tradition that urges the internalization of monumental works of the past without concern for education’s practical consequences. Of course such a program of acculturation would itself be political, in at least two ways: it would recommend certain values for adoption and not others, and at the same time it would demote the role of critical reason in the process of forming citizens — a move that cannot fail, in a democracy, to have serious political consequences. But my concern in this essay will be with another aspect of the conservative proposal: the strange fact that, while appealing to the authority and dignity of ancient Greek tradition, it is false to the guiding spirit of that tradition, which insists that philosophy ought to have a practical goal, and that without such a goal philosophical research and teaching are more game-playing, trivial and self-indulgent. It also insists, as we shall see, that the critical scrutiny of tradition is a major element of the way in which philosophy pursues its goal; so in another way as well it opposes the conservative emphasis on the uncritical assumption of "timeless truths".

This idea of a practical and compassionate philosophy — a philosophy committed to the good of human beings and to seeking that good through reasoning and argument — this is the idea that drew me to philosophy in the first place, as a writer and as a teacher. I want, here, to say a little about the history of this idea, but above all to ask how one might pursue it today, as a teacher in an American university. It is important to recognize how foreign the ancient conception of a life-transforming philosophy really is to most students in university courses. Encountering philosophy as one more course among many, in an institutional structure that suggests that education is more a matter of mastering certain course material than of transforming oneself, they are likely to approach the works of Plato and Aristotle and Epicurus and Seneca as one more thing they have to swallow down — not as challenges to the very way in which they live. On the final examination in my course in ancient ethical thought, I frequently ask students to imagine what a Greek or Roman philosopher of their choice would do were he suddenly to find himself at Brown: how would he approach students, what would his teaching consist in? The typical flat answer is to dream up courses that Plato or Epicurus would offer. Students have a hard time thinking of education in any other way. A deeper answer, by contrast, requires imagining how the whole interaction between student and teacher would go, how the very structure of courses and lecturing might be called into question, how connections might possibly be made between courses and other aspects of private and public life. In effect, then, I am going to try here to answer my own examination question, or to show some of the thinking that has shaped my practical attempt to answer it in my own teaching.

II

I have said that the job of a teacher and philosopher is to make human life better. But we need a more precise characterization of the ways in which this practical improvement is understood — especially in order to understand why the difficult and rigorous activity of philosophical argument should be thought to be so important for it. Epicurus, speaking for most of his tradition, defined philosophy as "the activity that secures the flourishing life by means of reasonings and arguments." But how, more precisely, do arguments secure a flourishing life? And what elements of flourishing are thought to require the aid of arguments? What I shall say here will be a bit crude and simplifying (a summary, in fact, of a long book that I have just finished writing on the relationship between theory and practice in ancient ethical thought). But it will, I hope, be sufficient to provide a reference point for my discussion of teaching. Let me propose, then, that the practical goals of a philosophical education are two: rational self-examination and universal citizenship.

Philosophical education aims to produce a certain sort of citizen: in the first place, one who is not a slavish follower of custom, tradition, or popular rhetoric, one who can take charge of his or her own thought about the most important matters, conducting a critical scrutiny of received beliefs and becoming aware of how and whether they cohere, and how they may be defended. Socrates famously said that "the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being" — holding that the life lived sluggishly guided by convention and authority, is not a fully human life, and that the fully human life is a life of vigilant critical self-examination. Since the beliefs being scrutinized are, for the most part, beliefs one has been taught by one’s society, this self-examination is a also a form of social criticism. And Socrates held that this criticism was essential to the healthy functioning of a democracy. He portrayed himself as a gadfly on the flank of the Athenian regime, which he characterized as a noble but sluggish horse.

The Greek and Roman Stoics developed this Socratic picture further, spelling out some of the ways in which the reasoned criticism of convention leads to the improvement of social life. They held, for example, that a serious and deep scrutiny of the ends of human life would convince us that money and social status are much less valuable than they are usually taken to be: not worthwhile at all in their own right, and of only limited usefulness in promoting the types of human activity that have real value. They saw that accepting the conclusions of such arguments would not merely change pupils’ intellects: it would also transform their desires and passions. A person who is not obsessed with status is not angry at purported slights to her or his status; a person who is not obsessed with money does not want to use the labor of others to extract more money. Above all, the person who comes to understand that reason, and not money and status, is the true source of our human dignity will be likely to respect all reasoning beings equally, across barriers of class, gender, and nationality. This equal respect, if one could achieve it, would profoundly transform the whole of social life.

Aristotle, writing before the Stoics, added one more very important piece to this picture. He was aware that the teacher of philosophical ethics was training not just individuals, who would go out and live personal lives in the community, but also the leaders and planners of social life, who would be in a position to go out and make laws and even constitutional arrangements. He argues that it is extremely urgent for such people to get clear about what the most important goals of human life are. For if they are not clear about them, they can hardly do their jobs as leaders–which is, as he sees it, to provide all citizens with what they need in order to be capable of living in these most valuable human ways. Now Aristotle differs from both Socrates and the Stoics in believing that a certain level of material well being — while not an end in itself — is nonetheless a necessary condition of the performance of those activities that are important as ends in a human life. One cannot think well if one is hungry. One cannot act justly if one is denied the rights and privileges of citizenship. One cannot be generous if one has nothing to give. One cannot maintain friendships if one is enslaved or imprisoned. His elegant analysis of the ways in which material and institutional resources support our ability, as humans, to function in a truly human way has been extremely influential in political thought — in particular, in the early thought of Marx concerning the alienation of workers from their full humanity. Aristotle’s conclusion is that the designers of regimes need to know all of this, in order to make a design that guarantees to "anyone whatsoever" the opportunity for effective pursuit of the human good. But the way they will learn this is through a philosophical teaching that makes them capable of the reasoned criticism of tradition, the vigilant scrutiny of all they hold dear.

Aristotle tended to focus on the student’s membership in and duties to a single community. The critical scrutiny he recommended, however, requires exhaustive cross-cultural study, in order to see what good ideas have come up elsewhere and what apparently good ideas have turned out badly. Aristotle famously commissioned his students to gather information about one hundred fifty-eight forms of political organization that had been tried in the world known to him, thus inaugurating the first multi-cultural curriculum in the history of Western thought (though perhaps Herodotus should actually be given credit for a pioneering effort in this area). But he still thought of the goal of good citizenship as that of membership in one’s own city; he had little to say about how one should deal with human beings who live outside its boundaries.

The Stoics, however, held that this was too narrow a goal for philosophical education. The Roman Stoics, especially, for obvious reasons, stressed the fact that we live in a complicated and interconnected world, and that good citizenship in such a world requires the ability to transcend the narrow boundaries of one’s own community. We ought to make students realize, they insisted, that each of us is a member of two communities: the community of our birth, with its deep affiliations but also its morally unexamined prejudices, its local and arbitrary preferences, and also the universal community of all human beings. The task of education must be to get students to perceive this larger community — hidden from them as it frequently is by the weight of entrenched local identifications, the sheer vividness of differences — and to understand themselves as members of it. This means that they must become able to recognize humanity — by which they meant above all the ability to reason about the goals of life — wherever they find it, in female and male, slave and free, "barbarian" as well as Greek or Roman. But to do this they must be able to converse in an intelligent and sensitive way with their fellow world-citizens; and meaningful conversation, as Seneca often shows, requires knowledge of the other party’s history, preoccupations, and likely prejudices. So they must come to know something about the world beyond the Tiber.

III

I have been deeply moved by this conception of philosophy’s task. Indeed, I would probably not have been able to justify to myself the continued pursuit of philosophical writing and teaching as a way of life unless I felt convinced that it did have such a task. Otherwise this way of life, which gives me so much joy and in which I exercise the freedom of self-expression and self-definition that can be found only rarely outside the academy, would probably have come to seem to me intolerably self-satisfied and self-indulgent. But it does not follow automatically from the fact that one teaches philosophy in a university that one is pursuing the practical and political goals mapped out by the ancient thinkers. Indeed, the segmentation of the modern academy and its separation from the larger community — characteristics that are in other respects very valuable, since the former promotes work of high excellence and the latter defends it from repression — make it difficult to see how, exactly, such goals might be pursued. The problem is compounded by the fact that one is not at liberty, as the ancient thinkers were, to redesign the structure and mode of instruction; the fact that Socrates would have hated almost everything about our large lecture-course system does not free one to follow his example. It is compounded still further by the youth of the students many of us teach, since this militates against their having any extensive experience of life on which to draw, or any position of social power in which to realize the fruits of rational examination. (Aristotle declined to teach ethics and politics to people so young.) So I have had to think, while writing about these issues in the ancient thinkers, how their goals might to some extent be realized in my own activity. In this process their own observations about education — especially, perhaps, those of the Stoics — have been extremely helpful.

First and most important, I think, is that philosophical teaching about ethics must convey to students a sense of the urgency and complexity of ethical problems, making contact with their own questions about their lives and dramatizing them in a vivid way. And in fact this is one of the reasons why teaching the Greek and Roman philosophers is so good a way to begin the teaching of ethics: because writers like Plato, Seneca, and Epictetus have thought about the role of drama and urgency in philosophical writing in a way not since surpassed. One cannot read a work like the Symposium, or the Republic, and think of philosophy as simply a dry logic-chopping game. But the teacher must play a role here also: and much of my energy, when I lecture, goes into making the issues vivid for students, especially by dramatizing a deep human problem and then showing the tug of one or another solution. I want them to see that philosophical positions are attempts to solve problems, and that the conflicts between rival positions are not just an intellectual matter, but a matter of choosing how to live by choosing what road to take out of some vexing dilemma. I also want them to see that in many cases the solution proposed is too simple to do justice to the complexities of the problem. I want them not to be uncritical fans of philosophical problem-solving, but to keep going back to their own lives and asking what fits, what seems adequate — in short, to examine themselves.

Arrian, who wrote down Epictetus’ philosophical discourses, remarks that in writing he can capture only a part of Epictetus’ pedagogy: for he communicated with his voice and gestures as well as with his words. And I have found, indeed, that the expressive equipment I developed in the years I spent as an actress are a non-trivial part of philosophical communication, especially in the modern university setting, where one does not have the option of talking to pupils one by one in the Socratic way. The particularity of engagement with each student’s life that all major ancient schools recommend cannot be achieved directly in the lecture room. But I think that it can be approached (as, indeed, Seneca and Epictetus themselves approached it) by presenting one’s arguments with sufficient human richness and drama to stimulate in each student a searching personal sort of self-confrontation. Sometimes this can best be done in Seneca’s way, by using historical or contemporary examples to illustrate the question at issue. And my paper questions frequently ask the student to think about the question in connection with a particular example, drawn either from their own lives or from contemporary public life.

But the job I am engaged in is not simply to dramatize problems and to investigate solutions. It is to show the power of reasoned argument in getting individuals and societies toward solutions. Philosophy is not just any old technique of making people happy; it secures the flourishing life by means of reasonings and arguments. And this part of the job is not easy. Seneca and Epictetus depict the average philosophy student as a privileged dilettante who is overfond of logical game-playing, who pursues the liar paradox without thinking about his own lies, reads Chrysippus on logical puzzles without thinking about the puzzles of his own world. The resistance the philosophers have to overcome is the resistance of the oversophisticated to anything real. To meet this resistance they rely on drama and personal exemplification. They also know another sort of potential student, the person who thinks that convention is just fine and that philosophy has nothing to offer. Such a person rarely comes within their reach — thus, in order to imagine a work about anger as a dialogue with such a person, Seneca must imagine himself talking to his own brother, who can hardly get out of the way of his words. In American undergraduate teaching we find many of the latter type of student — though often they are brought our way, for better or worse, by required courses. We also find a few of the oversophisticated hyperlogical sort of student. But nowadays oversophistication is likely to take a different form: that of a contempt for reason and argument. One of my most persistent problems as a teacher of Brown undergraduates is not just to get the sophisticated student to think about philosophical problems as real, but, in addition, to get them to have respect for the techniques of logical scrutiny that philosophy offers. For all too frequently they have absorbed an ill-examined set of ideas to the effect that reason is all power, that truth and objectivity are the two dogmas of imperialism. Of course if they are willing to examine such ideas philosophically one can then dig in and inquire along with them into the philosophical credentials of various sorts of relativism and antifoundationalism. If they are too far gone to admit that such scrutiny is pertinent to their ideas — and this sort of person is likely to be deeply resentful should an ill-reasoned jargon-laden essay not receive a high grade — then one may still have some hope of getting through by showing, as I try to repeatedly, both in teaching and in writing, that the social goals this person wishes to promote (such as anti-imperialism, anti-sexism, anti-racism) are not well supported by a position that denies that one view is better than another, one position stronger than another. In short, often the urgency of philosophy’s practical goal can win respect for its procedures and methods.

Philosophical teaching in today’s academy must use books. And books, used in the right way, can actually be very valuable in promoting the student’s own self-examination. The character Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus expresses suspiciousness about written texts, on the ground that they speak to all pupils alike, regardless of their differing backgrounds and needs, and on the grounds that they promote what he calls "the false conceit of wisdom", making students think that they are wise because they have mastered the contents of a text, rather than leading them to focus on their own critical arguments. Seneca repeats many of these points in his famous letter on liberal education. And yet both Plato and Seneca wrote books — feeling, apparently, that there was a positive task for books to perform in education, despite their dangers. The danger of the written text of philosophical thought is greatest, I think, when one makes up a list of philosophical classics and labels these "The Great Books". For this honorific procedure suggests that the books, and not one’s own reason, are the authority; and it urges an attitude of reverential deference that is very much opposed to the spirit of real philosophizing. But, as Seneca insists, books may also be used in a different way, as nourishment for the living process of argument. Aristotle adds that if we don’t read the best of our predecessors we end up making the same mistakes over again; if we do read them, we will at least avoid the mistakes that they help us to avoid, and we may even, through a critical engagement with them, make a little progress beyond them.

It is in this spirit that I try to present the works of the Greek philosophical tradition when I teach; as noble and wonderful "friends", subtle and profound discussion-partners whose works train the mind to think for itself. But the goal is always in the thinking. Epictetus tells a story of a young man who came to him boasting that he had mastered Chrysippus’ treatise on choice. Epictetus replies: if you were an athlete, and came to me saying that you had a new set of training weights in your room, I would not say, "Great! Now you’ve done it!" I would, instead, say, "Now show me what you can do with your weights." Books are like training weights for the mind — of no worth unless one can show that with their aid one has managed to be a more thoughtful and subtle person.

We now arrive at the second goal, the goal of world citizenship. To a great extent, the study of the ancient Greek philosophers can promote this end as well, given that their works deal profoundly with problems that human beings face in many places and times. And we should also not forget that in studying the Greek philosophers we are making contact with a culture other than our own, and being forced to ask what we share with them and wherein we differ. But I think it is clear that the effective pursuit of world citizenship in the academy requires other strategies — and that these strategies, far from subverting the study of "the Western tradition", actually render it far more precise.

In order to be effective citizens of a world in which debate on many of the most urgent matters is increasingly international, students need to become aware of the complexity of the other traditions that are participating in the debate — both in other countries and within their own increasingly diverse country. They need to be able to converse with the members of these other traditions with sensitivity and not obtuseness; and this sensitivity requires learning about what is really shared among human beings and what is local. Now of course it would be foolish to try to make an undergraduate education give "equal time" to all the cultural traditions of the world. That way each student would get just a smattering of each, and no deep knowledge of any one tradition. But it is possible for a program of multicultural education, intelligently designed, to show students, at the very least, how local some of the received understandings of Western culture may be, and how to inquire into a new and different culture. Such a goal does not, as conservative critics often charge, imply cultural relativism, or the view that all positions are equally good and there is no room for the reasoned criticism of tradition. Students can easily make this error, if exposed to criticism of their own way in an atmosphere that derogates reason. That is one reason why I think that philosophy, which remains committed to reason and argument, has such an urgent role to play in the contemporary debate about multiculturalism. And in this debate the Greek philosophers make a valuable contribution; for they show, again and again, that patient attention to the pupil’s way of life and its social origins does not entail the withholding of reasoned criticism, that conern for context is fully compatible with aiming at a universal human good.

Nor should we think, as classicists, that multiculturalism in the university subverts our own enterprise. I am often asked how it can be that I support the goals of multiculturalism while continuing to teach the ancient Greeks, as if there is some tension between the two concerns. But, as I have already argued, concern with the Greeks can actually show us sound arguments that advance the legitimate purposes of multiculturalism; and multiculturalism also enhances our research and teaching as classicists, by making us aware of that which is culturally specific and local in the classics themselves, sharpening our grasp of them by getting us to define them against something foreign to them. (It can also show us how much human beings actually share, across cultural and historical gulfs.) Giving support to multiculturalism can lose us a part of our clientele — that part that came to our courses under duress because they were the only core requirements, that part that wanted to read the Greeks because they were supposed to be authorities. But that, I believe, is not real loss. We will have to seek students for the right reasons now: because these works, and our teaching of them, are vital and fascinating, because they illuminate the history of a specific civilization that has had enormous importance for us, and because they confront problems that most human lives share in one form or another, with arguments that are worthy of respect, close study, and independent criticism.

IV

So far I have talked about teaching by talking about the classroom and the curriculum. But of course a teacher in a university is also a scholar and writer; and that part of her activity is closely related to her pedagogical role. For one way in which one teaches students about the close connection between philosophical argument and the improvement of public life is to be, oneself, an engaged citizen whose thinking informs her political role. If one teaches students that a major purpose of philosophical argument is the amelioration of the public culture, and then makes it evident that one does not have any interaction with the public culture, the student may well legitimately ask why not, and whether there is not some inconsistency here. Now of course the question might have a satisfactory answer. For one might find that, being the person one is, the best way one can contribute to the public culture is in fact simply by being a teacher, who will train future workers and professionals and politicians to think in ways that will be conducive to social justice. Or one might feel that the best way one can manifest the effect of philosophy in one’s own life is by being a more reflective parent or citizen in ways that have little to do with one’s professional philosophical activity, pursuing civic projects of various sorts, loving one’s family, using part of one’s income for causes connected with one’s social and political goals.

But there is also, I believe, a job for a public philosophy to perform: the job that Plato and Aristotle and Seneca tried to perform in their own day. The job, that is, of clarifying thinking on matters of public urgency through one’s own thought and writing. And this is a job that American professors of philosophy perform far too seldom nowadays, and have not performed well since the time of John Dewey and William James. There are reasons for this: America is a relatively anti-intellectual society, philistine and deeply suspicious of the contribution of any self-appointed "cultural elite". For this reason there are relatively few structures through which American philosophers can address the general public; and if they do they are not likely to be taken as seriously as their counterparts in Germany and France and Britain. Nonetheless, part of the blame must also rest with academic philosophy itself, which too often speaks a jargon-laden language and doesn’t learn how to write in a way that would engage a non-specialist.

I have devoted a great deal of thought to this question, since it seems to me that what I fundamentally am is a writer; that is what I can do, what I know how to do well. I would be no good at all seeking public office, and I don’t have very much money to give away. So if I am to make a public contribution, it seems to me that it would be excellent if a way could be found to do it through my work. And, on the other hand, I think there is a need for philosophical thought in public life that is not being sufficiently met, a need for critical reflection and closely reasoned debate on matters of human urgency. So I have felt it very important to devote a part of my work to this end, and I continue to feel that only doing this justifies me in indulging myself as I do in a way of life that I find so personally pleasing.

The first thing that can be said is that the choice between pursuing one’s own work and writing for the general public need not be seen so exclusively and so tragically. For in fact the general public is hungry for philosophical work addressing ethical and political issues — so long as this work is written by someone who sounds like a person. There is little excuse for the horrible quality of writing in philosophical journals. It is lazy and often, even in its air of precision, imprecise. It is perfectly possible to write something intelligible, and even moving, that a college-educated member of the general public can read with interest. And I therefore always try to write even my most scholarly books in a human and humanly engaging way. Fragility of Goodness was hardly designed as a popular book. It has four hundred pages of text and over a hundred footnotes, in very small print, and is filled with references and citations. And yet it has in fact been read by a large number of non-academic people, as my mail and the sales indicate. (My correspondents report that they even like the footnotes, since this helps them locate other things they might pursue on a topic, and gives them some sense of knowing what the debate is about.) The reason for this, quite simply, is that it is written as if the issues matter; the depth with which they matter to me is soemthing that I have tried to convey, showing the reader my own motivations for doing philosophy. I hope that my recently finished book on Hellenistic Ethics, The Therapy of Desire, will reach a similar audience — though it is more an uphill battle here, since it deals with less familiar ancient texts.

Meanwhile, I have allotted a certain portion of my time to writing pieces more directly addressed to the general public. Our public media do not make this easy: the book review is about the only way to reach a wide audience, and there are very few places that reach beyond the academy that will print serious substantial discussions of philosophical books. The New York Times Book Review sets it sights absurdly low, and does not seek serious intellectual discussion. (I was given 600 words to review Foucault’s History of Sexuality!) The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and more recently, the literary portion of The New Republic, have become the leading contributors to Anglo-American public discussion in these areas. It is to some extent a matter of chance whether one gets asked to review for these journals. And once one is asked one must be willing to adopt new and more collaborative patterns of writing. These editors do not simply print what a writer sends, no matter how much they like the writer. They have definite ideas about what their audience will and will not understand, and there is usually a lengthy process of editing and rewriting for each piece. (TLS does this least, since in Britain the audience is assumed to share a common background and to be somewhat academic.) At first this is an unpleasant surprise to a person who cherishes her own words. But I have learned to have enormous respect for the command of language, the sense of audience, and the sheer common sense of editors such as Bob Silvers of the NYRB and Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic.

Scholars sometimes deride this activity as mere journalism. But I can assure them that, like a good undergraduate lecture course, it requires more mastery of the subject matter and not less, more precision and not less. Usually when I write such a piece I have all the material and arguments at hand for an extremely long and detailed academic review — and then I must ask, what is really important here? And how can I express such a complex point in a way that brings it close to real life? It is an activity very much like undergraduate teaching; and just as I don’t think one can teach philosophy well without doing it well, I don’t think one can do public essays in this way well without having one’s own ideas and developing them in a rigorous way.

American television offers very few opportunities for serious intellectual discussion. And yet, when the opportunity arises, that one can be an especially rewarding way of approaching the public, more closely connected to one’s teaching than writing frequently is. I have done two television programs — one on Aristotle for a BBC series on "The Great Philosophers", one a segment of "Bill Moyers’ World of Ideas" for PBS. Both were in different ways highly rewarding experiences. The first was carefully planned out beforehand, and was like a lecture-by-conversation; the second was a more intense and searching spontaneous conversation about a variety of ethical issues. Each had its virtues, and each, I think, served a valuable pedagogical function. I have usually refused to do television if I think that there would not be the opportunity for serious discussion and sustained argument. The one thing I have planned for the future in this area is a program for a German television series on "tendencies and traditions in American philosophy," which will, I hope, give me a chance to address a new audience that (through conferences) I am just beginning to know. There are many hazards and pitfalls to this sort of public philosophizing. One is that, in reviewing, one may spend more time than one wants to on ideas that are not worth much, simply because of their influence, unchecked, is likely to be pernicious. Living for over a month with the mind of Allan Bloom was not a pleasant experience, nor did it advance my own understanding of any issue. On the other hand the public importance of criticizing his book was great, and if it was an intellectual sacrifice it was well worth it. A more troublesome hazard is that one may simply be devoured by the public and lose one’s own integrity as a thinker. It is necessary to protect oneself in every possible way against invasions of one’s time and space, if one does not want to lose oneself. And sometimes one finds, on a bad day, that the price is still rather high. I make a big effort not to give my phone number out — and yet, during the past three hours I have had fourteen phone calls, in one case three during the writing of a single sentence of this piece.

And apart from the question of time, there is the question of persona. The public world wants to package people neatly, to make them into media figures, performance artists. One must, I think, decide: does one want to live that way, or does one want to be a philosopher? In concrete terms this means, I think, being extremely careful what invitations one accepts (I declined to go on the Oprah Winfrey show opposite Allan Bloom), and being very judicious about what one puts into print, making sure that it expresses one’s commitment to reason and creates a persona who is a serious philosopher. This doesn’t at all mean writing without pungency or wit; but it does mean not sounding strident and dogmatic. And since it is all too easy to get into print with a polemic, I think that it is especially important to make sure that one’s piece has something positive to say, and shows a spirit of fair-mindedness toward the opposition. It is easy to make fun of a book one doesn’t like; but the philosophical way to criticize it is something different. And it is in this connection important not to lapse into the easy sloganeering that all too often characterizes American politics, even in the academy. I am happy if my audience is not altogether sure beforehand what I am going to say — and above all if those who know my work trust me not to say what I can’t support by argument, and to follow the argument anywhere it leads. This was why it was important to me, for example, to publish my favorable review of Richard Posner’s Sex and Reason (in an April issue of The New Republic). For many people on the left simply define Posner as a "right-wing" thinker and don’t look at his arguments. (The review of the book in The New York Times was an egregious case of this.) I read the book carefully, and found that it was a highly complicated and subtle piece of work, in many ways extremely impressive. And I said so. I can tell you that my praise disconcerted a number of my friends on the left, and I am glad so to disconcert them. For one is no longer a philosopher if one is the committed agent of a particular set of political views, ready to impose them uncritically on every work one encounters.

V

I have spoken of addressing the general public. But there are many other ways for philosophers to influence the conduct of public life. The past twenty years have seen the flowering of "applied ethics", in which philosophers increasingly interact with doctors, lawyers, businessmen, to discuss ethical issues in those professions. My colleague Dan Brock is one of the leaders in medical ethics in this country; he does work (for example on the relationship between patient’s interests and patient’s autonomy) that influences the conduct of doctors in countries all over the world, and the writing of pertinent legislation in this country, at both state and national levels. He can have such a far-reaching influence only because he does not pontificate from a position of non-involvement: he spent an entire year going on rounds in a local hospital, and now spends part of every term teaching medical students and interacting with doctors. Here theory and practice are meeting in an especially fruitful way.

My own engagement has been above all with the field of law. By now I have given a number of major lectures and lecture series in law schools, and in 1993-4 I will be visiting for one quarter at the University of Chicago Law School, teaching their course on law and literature. This began almost by chance, as I found myself getting invitations to speak at law schools. I wondered what had led to this; and I soon discovered that the law today has a keen interest in finding paradigms of rationality that are alternatives to the narrow account of rationality put forward by economics. In this connection, they had been turning to Aristotle; and they had seen some of my work on Aristotle’s account of "non-scientific deliberation". Once I got into the law schools, my anti-utilitarian appetite was whetted by the spectacle of a noble and highly influential profession denying the complexity of its own historical insights in order to pursue the alluring pseudo-scientific simplicity of economic utilitarianism. The opposition was, it seemed, unarmed: those who held that there was a plurality of noncommensurable goods were labelled irrationalists, and accepted the label; those who held that emotions played a role in good moral reasoning were accused of throwing out reason, and conceded the charge. There was a job to be done, clearly: saying what reason is, in a way that shows why economic reasoning may well be irrational, and Aristotelian reasoning rational. Increasingly I have found it fascinating to undertake this job — for it appears that my professional qualifications and interests actually make me well-placed to do so.

In the law one is, for the most part, addressing only the problems of American life, and addressing them in an academic insider’s way. This is in one sense good, since this means that through the usual academic channels of lecturing and publishing one may actually manage to have an effect. Judges read — or at least some of them do. And what one writes, if read, need only change one or two minds in order to have a significant impact. I am not all sanguine about the judiciary at present. I think that judges like Posner — academically talented, open-minded, sensitive — are increasingly rare, not only on the Supreme Court, but at the lower levels as well. On the other hand, I have at least the hope that some change might come about through good thinking and writing on these issues, writing of a sort that by training and temperament I am well positioned to produce.

The situation in my other field of practical work is far more complex. This is the field of international development studies and policy making. For the past seven years I have been a Research Advisor at the World Institute for Development Economics Research in Helsinki, a research institute connected with the United Nations, whose function is to generate new interdisciplinary approaches to the economic problems of developing countries. I have been a part of a project that looks at different ways of understanding the job of measuring the "quality of life" in these countries, a project designed to bring philosophers together with economists in order to illuminate the problems further. And here my experience as a philosopher specializing in the ancient world converges in a fascinating way with some of the most urgent issues of development, as an approach to quality of life measurement based on ancient Greek thought, and especially on Aristotle, is joining hands with the best recent work in economics to generate new approaches to the issue.

The situation is this. When governments want to figure out how they are doing, or when international agencies want to figure out how different countries are doing, they need to know what to look for. So they need some adequate conception of human well-being, and of the methods that are most likely to elicit reliable data about well-being. Usually economics has proceeded in a haphazard and superficial way. Opulence, in the form of GNP per capita, is the most common measure of how things are. But it is obvious that this measure does not even ask about the distribution of wealth and income; far less does it go deeper, to ask about the role of wealth and income in promoting flourishing human lives. Aristotle insisted vehemently that in order to see whether a city was doing well, one had to look not just to one class, but to the situation of each and every one; and he was aware that some extremely wealthy citizens may deprive their poorer members of the bare minimum for basic human functioning. It was for these insights that his work was so important to Marx.

One step up in level of sophistication, we have an approach that measures life quality in terms of utility, asking how satisfied people feel with what they have. This approach has the merit of focusing on people, and the role of resources in human lives. But it neglects a fact that was fundamental to all of the Greek philosophers — namely, that people’s desires are not always a very reliable indicator of what is good for them. The rich and pampered become accustomed to their luxury, and view with extreme dissatisfaction a situation in which they are treated like anyone else. The poor and deprived adjust their sights to what they have — particularly if they are deprived of education, and particularly if, as is the case with many women in these countries, traditional gender norms represent to them that a lower level of functioning is right for them. Our project promotes, as an alternative to both of these approaches, an approach based on the Aristotelian idea of human functioning. We argue that what governments should really be asking is how well citizens are actually able to function, in a variety of important areas of human life.

This approach raises the specter of paternalism; and so we have spent a good deal of our time thrashing out the arguments about cultural relativism and objectivity that are currently on the scene, and trying to argue that the legitimate concerns about sensitivity to diversity do not undermine our attempt to bring to bear a general notion of human functioning. We have also refined our approach to make it more sensitive to cultural diversity. Currently we are looking at its implications for the future of the family and of sexuality in the light of new progress in reproductive technology. If the Institute’s new director (currently being selected) proves supportive of these philosophical approaches, we will continue by looking at possibilities for implementing the approach in the actual design of social programs in various parts of the world.

This work has been extremely exhilarating to me, and also extremely frustrating. Exhilarating, because I can enter a diverse international world in which the arguments of philosophy might actually count for something where need is most urgent. The issues — especially those connected with the lives of women in developing countries — seem to me so urgent that I am all the more frustrated that it is so difficult to make progress with them. The countries in question are so many and so diverse that it is unclear how any intellectual approach — especially one that is internationalist and secularist — can hope to have a deep influence. At any rate, the question of its influence is one that depends on factors that I neither understand nor control. And the resistance of mainstream economic thinking to any modification of this sort is so dogged that there are many barriers to getting a fair hearing, even on the intellectual front. Philosophers, meanwhile, do not, in general write well enough to be persuasive in this arena. So my best hope is that over the course of the next five years I can write a book that will have a broad impact on public policy, even without altering the direction of mainstream economic thinking. Even then, its implementation depends on politics, and politics, at this time, is increasingly centrifugal and ethnocentric — tendencies, I might add, that are extremely ominous for the lives of many of the world’s women.

At this point I might seem to have strayed very far from the topic of teaching. But I believe that one’s whole life is in one or another way present in the classroom — in the way in which one’s commitments infuse one’s personality and one’s ways of looking at the world, and also in the way in which experiences like this give one a rich store of urgent examples of ethical and political issues with which to illustrate an abstract moral point. I know, in particular, that what I have learned about the world from working in India and in Helsinki has altered the way I present the work of the Greek philosophers to my students, and has made me more able to pursue the goal of world citizenship in my teaching of the traditional material of "Western Civilization". Most of all, I think, I want to be, and I want my students to see me to be, a person passionately immersed in the ethical issues of life, one who does not shrink from taking risks for those commitments, but also one who loves philosophy and believes that the best way to address these commitments is through the very sort of reasoning and study that I am asking them to do, which I see as something extremely joyous and deeply delightful. Epicurus said, "Through the passionate love of philosophy, every bad human suffering is undone." This is no doubt excessively optimistic. But as a guiding ideal and "political motivation" for teaching, it is not so bad.

Martha Nussbaum

http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Cla…/Nussbaum.html

分类: 学术文献 标签: 4,614
  1. hhz
    2010年10月26日12:58 | #1

    这篇文章真是太棒了,值得反复品味!

    • 默识
      2010年10月26日14:00 | #2

      Nussbaum是一个相当不错的学者,你可以关注一下。我们现在的法哲学视野太过狭隘了。

  2. hhz
    2010年10月27日01:17 | #3

    师兄所言极是!

  3. Yangwm
    2010年11月25日02:47 | #4

    记得我第一次知道NUSSBUM还是在甘阳《自然权利与历史》的导言中,里面甘阳好像把她译作“纳斯包”,看得我头上起包啊……

    • yushuang
      2010年11月25日16:29 | #5

      翻译成了“妮斯邦”……

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