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Martha C. Nussbaum, A Liberal Education:Should academics join the government?(附吴万伟译本)

本文作者Martha C. Nussbaum是芝加哥大学法学院、神学院和哲学系合聘的弗伦德法律与伦理学杰出贡献教授,研究领域涵盖古希腊、罗马哲学,政治哲学和伦理学。

Last month was decision time for the many academics who left their tenured jobs to work in the Obama administration. Universities standardly grant leave for at most two years, at which point a professor must either return or resign. Some, of course, can hope to be rehired later, but prudence often rules. Many of my acquaintances made the choice to return to writing and teaching. A few have stayed on. For a long time I’ve been comparing my free and sheltered life to those exposed and difficult lives, with a mixture of relief and guilt. I keep thinking of Cicero’s acerbic commentary on philosophers who refuse to serve the public realm: “Impeded by the love of learning, they abandon those whom they ought to protect.” Even worse, he accuses them of arrogant self-indulgence: “They demand the same thing kings do: to need nothing, to obey nobody, to enjoy their liberty, which they define as doing what you like.” It’s difficult not to hear that voice in one’s dreams, even if one believes, as I do, that writing itself can serve the public good.

While I pondered my own regal privilege and the recent choices of my friends, I happened upon a book that sheds as much light on such choices as any I know: A Liberal Education, by Abbott Gleason. Gleason is a respected historian of Russia in the pre-Soviet and Soviet periods. He taught in the History Department at Brown from 1968 until his recent retirement—but with a two-year stint in Washington running the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a leading think tank focused on Russia and its surrounding states. Gleason’s father Everett, also a historian, made the opposite choice, leaving his tenured position at Amherst and taking on the jobs of chief of the current intelligence staff for the Office of Strategic Services, and of deputy executive secretary of the National Security Council. So Tom (as I always knew him, when we overlapped at Brown) grew up in two worlds, and this early experience informed his later choice.

Gleason was a child of WASP elite privilege, and he ultimately came to detest narcissism and egotism in all its forms, even those that masquerade as revolutionary zeal. That’s what makes this memoir, written with a lovely sense of irony (Orwell is his favorite stylist, and it shows), so tricky and so fascinating. As Tom depicts his early forays into left-wing politics while a Harvard undergraduate, some of the commitments were genuine—he ran real risks in the South during the civil rights movement. But there was also a lot of narcissistic hype, as he came to believe that he and his mostly Jewish friends (he congratulated himself both on having such friends and on being able to keep up, almost, with their smarts) would someday run the world, in a far better way than it had been run before. Meanwhile, as he shows, his own life contained stunning pockets of unexamined arrogance, particularly in his role as a husband who just expected that his wife would like everything he liked and do whatever was most convenient for his career. (It is a testimony to his interest in genuine self-knowledge that the marriage has endured and flourished.) The tale Gleason tells is, ultimately, one of patient self-unmasking and self-recreation, as his radical effusions gave way to a cautious and deeply unfashionable liberal individualism with conservative elements (the love of community attachments that he depicts historically in his best known book, Young Russia).

Where government service was concerned, Gleason took issue early on with contemporaries who denounced everything that went on there as corrupt, while saluting one another with canned revolutionary slogans. But he also knew how life in Washington, with its constant jockeying for reputation and power, its severe restraints on self-expression, had drained his father of joy over time, and he was determined not to be drawn too deeply in. After two years of what he regards as useful and enjoyable public service he had had enough. He had learned something—a richer sense of the reality of political choices, a new confidence in his grasp of the whole range of issues affecting Russia—but he saw that beyond a certain point staying there would not satisfy his desire to understand.

But why the academy? Gleason’s portrait of that life (my life, the life of those returners) is far from rosy. He trenchantly puts before us so much vanity, so much anti-Semitism, sexism, racism, so much disdain for the legitimate demands of students, that the reader begins to wonder why he didn’t run screaming away. He’s particularly rough—rightly—on Harvard, where both professors and students alike operated (and maybe we should use the present tense!) on an unearned assumption that they were indeed kings and that they would rule the world with their superior endowments.

And yet, there is just the delight of finding something out and teaching it to others. It’s deeply moving to see Gleason find, slowly, the subject that grabs his passions and, ultimately, sustains his life. Moving, too, to find that he connects his curiosity about Soviet history with the capacities for self-criticism and self-change that he slowly developed, and with his evident capacity for thinking critically and creatively about academic institutions. (He almost became provost while I was at Brown, but withdrew from the final group of two because of a health issue.) In the final chapter, he talks about his current struggle with Parkinson’s disease. As his body increasingly eludes his control, there is still the abiding pleasure of doing some work every day, learning just a bit more, being just a bit deeper as both thinker and person. He’s still getting a liberal education, and that, in the end, he suggests, is what life is really about.

I admire and honor my friends who have made Cicero’s choice for service and who stick by it. They are giving the world something that we who write all day are not. Reading Gleason’s powerful memoir, however, reminds me that it is not just cowardice or truculence that keeps us here in the study. It is something in which a reasonable person could reasonably hope to find the meaning of a life. 

【本文转自新共和

自由教育:大学教授应该当官吗?

马萨·诺斯鲍姆 著 吴万伟 译

上个月是许多辞掉大学教授职务到奥巴马政府工作的人做出决定的时候。大学通常给教授们最多两年的假期,假期结束后,他们就必须做出决定,要么返回学校,要么辞去教职。当然,有些人希望以后再次得到聘用,但谨慎的选择还是占上风。我认识的许多人做出的选择是返回学校,从事教书和写作的老本行。少数人继续留在政府工作。长期以来,我一直在对比我自由自在和衣食无忧的教授生活和那些成为公众人物的麻烦生活,一方面我感到庆幸,但同时也感到内疚。我总是想起西塞罗对拒绝为公众服务的哲学家的尖刻评论:“由于受到对学问的热爱的阻碍,他们抛弃了那些应该得到保护的人。”更糟糕的是,他指控这些人傲慢自大、自我放任,“他们要求国王们拥有的一切:什么都不缺,谁也不服从,享受完全的自由,想做什么就做什么。”即使像我一样相信写作本身就是为公众服务的人,恐怕也很难不在梦中听见这样的声音吧。

就在我思考自己帝王般的特权和朋友们最近的选择时,我碰巧阅读了阿伯特·格里森(Abbott Gleason)著的《自由教育》,该书阐明了我所了解的这些选择。格里森是令人尊敬的历史学家,专门研究苏联时期及苏维埃之前的俄国历史。自1968年到最近退休,一直在布朗大学历史系教书,但是曾有两年时间的停顿,在华盛顿主持伍德罗威尔逊凯南研究所,这是一个专门研究俄罗斯及其周边国家的智库。格里森的父亲埃利特(Everett)也是历史学家,却做出了相反的选择,放弃阿默斯特大学(Amherst)的教授岗位,担任了战略服务处当前情报部主任和国家安全委员会副秘书长。所以汤姆(因为我早就认识他,我们都曾在布朗大学工作过)就是在政界和学界的两个世界长大的,这种早年经历指导了他后来的选择。

格里森是盎格鲁撒克逊白人新教徒精英特权阶层子弟,最终却开始厌恶这个阶层的各种形式的自恋和自我主义,甚至包括那些戴着革命热情伪装的内容。难怪,这本充满讽刺味道的回忆录(该书显示奥威尔是他最喜欢的文体家)却这么发人深省,引人入胜。汤姆描述他在哈佛读本科时如何初次涉足左翼政治,虽然他的承诺是真诚的,在民权运动时期在南方他确实冒着真正的风险,但里面也确实有很多自恋的宣传,因为他逐渐相信他和他的大部分犹太人朋友(他庆幸自己有这样的朋友,庆幸自己有他们那样超群的智慧)若有朝一日统治世界肯定比从前的人管理得更好。与此同时,正如他显示的,他自己的生活中包含了令人吃惊的傲慢自大,虽然他自己并没有意识到。尤其是他作为丈夫只期待妻子喜欢他喜欢的一切,做有利于他的事业的一切。(他们的婚姻稳定美满也表明了他对真正的自我了解的兴趣)格里森讲述的故事其实就是病人自己撕去伪装和自我消遣的东西,因为他的激进思想的迸发已经让位于带有保守主义色彩的谨慎的、极端不讨人喜欢的自由派个人主义。(在他最著名的历史书《年轻的俄罗斯》中就可以看出他对集体承诺的热爱)

至于为政府服务的问题,其实在格里森谈及当今有些人时就已经涉及到了。他们谴责那里的一切都腐败透顶,同时用革命口号的陈词滥调相互恭维。他很清楚,华盛顿的生活虽然有追求名誉和权力的种种花招和权谋,但对自我表现的严格限制已经夺走了他父亲生活中太多的快乐,所以他决心不过分卷入这种生活。两年在他看来有用的和快乐的公共服务期已经足够。在此期间,他学到了一些东西,对政治选择的现实有了更深刻的认识,同时对他抓住影响俄国的众多议题的能力有了新的信心。不过,他也看到了超过了一定期限的恋栈已经无法满足他的求知欲望。

但是,为什么要留在大学呢?格里森对那种生活(我的生活和从政界返回的人的生活)的描述远不是那么美好浪漫的。他犀利地刻画了大学的名利场,里面充斥着反犹主义、性别歧视、种族主义、和对学生合法要求的蔑视,以至于读者开始纳闷他为什么没有大声疾呼。在哈佛的时候,他是个特别厉害的人,那里的教授和学生曾经拥有(或许我们应该用现在时)牛气冲天的使命感:他们就是国王,要用自己高超的天赋统治这个世界。

但是,发现一些东西并把它传授给他人本身就是一种乐趣。看到格里森逐渐发现抓住他的激情并最终维持其生活的这个主题,非常令人感动。令人感动的还有他把对俄罗斯历史的好奇心和他逐渐养成的自我批评和自我改造的能力结合起来。(当我在布朗大学的时候,他几乎就当上教务长了,但是因为身体原因在最后两名人选的竞争中选择退出)在最后一章,他谈到了现在患上帕金森综合症,与病魔做斗争的故事。虽然身体越来越失去他的控制,但他每天都要做一些工作,学习一点东西,不仅作为思想家而且作为普通人,这都是永远的快乐根源。他仍然在接受自由教育,他认为,自由教育才是人生的真谛。

我敬佩和称赞那些朋友,他们做出了西塞罗服务大众的选择,并坚持下去。他们能给予世界我们这些整天只会写作的人无法提供的东西。但是,阅读格里森令人震撼的回忆录后,我再次认识到促使我们做出继续留在学界的选择的因素并不是胆小怯懦或凶猛好战,而是一个有理性的人理所当然地希望在生活中找到的意义。

【译文转自:吴万伟先生个人博客

分类: 大学教育 标签: 5,857
  1. 默识
    2011年3月28日08:51 | #1

    译文有些随意。
    比如译文第一句是“上个月是许多辞掉大学教授职务到奥巴马政府工作的人做出决定的时候。”下一句是“他们就必须做出决定,要么返回学校,要么辞去教职。”
    既然已经“辞掉大学教授职务”,怎么还要再一次“辞去教职”?答案其实就在第二句中:“大学通常给教授们最多两年的假期,假期结束后,他们就必须做出决定”。可见,第一句不是“辞掉大学教授职务”,而是请假离开。查阅原文,错误可知。

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