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[转载]中国拿走了美国的镇国之宝

已有 7941 次阅读 2014-6-11 23:10 |个人分类:书海拾贝|系统分类:观点评述|关键词:纽约时报,知识分子,大使馆,奖学金| 大使馆, 知识分子, 奖学金, 纽约时报 |文章来源:转载

中国拿走了美国的镇国之宝

2014-06-10 19:56:34  纽约时报


作为一个生活在北京的美国富布赖特奖学金(Fulbright)学者,我常常陷入无法翻译的伦理对话。不久前,我们与美国驻华大使馆的官员及中国知识分子共进午餐,结果,我们在红包问题上展现了彻底的文化分歧。


  中国人常常送出装有现金的红包,作为祝贺婚礼、小孩出生和春节等场合的礼物。红色被认为代表着好运。中国家庭向即将给他们的家人做手术的医生送红包,是一种非常普遍的现象。每个人都知道要照此办理,也都按照自己的能力给出红包。我们这群美国人则认为,此举是不道德的贿赂,因为这是在寻求医生偏袒自己。桌上的中国人回答,“当然会让医生偏袒。这就是目的啊。”他们不仅对我们的谴责感到困惑,还迅速反问,我们这些美国人有没有小孩——因为,但凡家长必然会采取一切必要手段来保护挚爱的家人。


  当一名(尽全力施展“人心外交”的)使馆工作人员建议中国人可以等手术成功后再送红包,而不是事先送,他们惊呆了。当然了,必须得事前送,因为红包会激发医生的积极性。礼金给医生传达的讯息是:一、对我们的孩子特别照顾;二、我们尊重你的医术和受到的教育,并且相应地给了你“面子”;三、我们对孩子很重视,会要求你负责,而且有能力让你负责。并非所有人都有能力通过送红包来影响他们的医生,但这个事实不是拒送红包的理由,因为我们此刻正在努力保护我的孩子。在中国人看来,像抽象的原则这种说不清道不明的东西,永远不能跟孩子的幸福相提并论。


  这种简单的困惑暴露出了两种文化之间显著的伦理差异。许多美国人认为,像红包这样的赞助在本质上是腐败。他们指出,这种现象一开始当然都很简单,但它会扩大至收受贿赂并携巨额财产潜逃的腐败政党成员。另一方面,中国人认为交换红包是有礼貌的行为,是增进社会关系的重要方式,与贿赂无关。他们也谴责贿赂太自私。大部分西方人无法理解中国人的实用主义道德标准,认为任何优待制度都是不道德的,因为它未能平等地尊重每一个公民。


由于美国出产的唯一一门正式的哲学有着同样的名字——实用主义(pragmatism),这就让这种分歧愈发显得突出。实用主义的核心是19世纪末、20世纪初一小群思想家的理念,这些思想家包括约翰·杜威(John Dewey)、威廉·詹姆斯(William James)和查尔斯·桑德斯·皮尔斯(Charles Sanders Pierce)(詹姆斯认为,皮尔斯是实用主义哲学的奠基人)。美式实用主义对学术界和思想界的影响都很重大,但却都不长远。随着分析哲学在美国大学体系中站稳了脚跟,实用主义的影响就褪去了。但在后冷战时代,以理查德·罗蒂(Richard Rorty)为首的哲学家重拾实用主义后,使它又得到了振兴和修正。


  在1906年的一次题为“实用主义意味着什么”的演讲中,詹姆斯说,实用主义方法寻求“通过追踪各自的实际后果来解读每一个观念”。我想说,现在那种方法看上去更具有中国特色,而非美国特色。


  大部分美国人都熟悉中国在涉及外交政策时的实用主义。中国对与其他国家进行道德辩论不感兴趣,它采取的立场是,自己的政策“只是公事公办”,以同样的方式与圣人和暴君进行贸易。至少在公开场合,美国看不起这种看上去缺乏原则的做法,但在我看来,我们未能了解中国文化中更深层次的实用主义道德观。


  如今,中国知识分子对实用主义的欢迎似乎胜过美国人。在中国,对杜威哲学思想的热情尤其在迅速高涨起来,相比之下美国对它的热情已经枯萎了。在北京外国语大学,我所在学院的院长孙有中教授解释说,上海华东师范大学正在广泛地重新翻译杜威的大量著作,这些作品包括杜威1919年到1921年在中国居住期间的许多演讲。最近,在北京和上海还召开了一些以杜威的哲学思想为主题的会议,我所有的本科学生都知道他的名字,但在国内,我在芝加哥的大部分本科学生却不知道。如果这样的证据最多是道听途说,那么一些统计数据表明,对美式实用主义的兴趣正在自己的土壤上消失:让学生有机会专门研究本土哲学的研究生项目,在授予学位的哲学院系中仅占10%左右。


  杜威的哲学思想,以及在他之前的威廉·詹姆斯的哲学思想,首要主题是试验性的生活方式——这是一种在行为领域测试各种见解的做法——应该在涵盖了宗教、政治、道德、艺术,当然还有科学的所有领域,成为指引我们行动的原则 。杜威反对僵化的意识形态,反对绝对主义和本质论。我们当中有太多人对自己的意见过于自信了,而且倾向于把它们视为确信无疑的精辟之见,认为自己的见解比别人的见解、比别的文化和别的时代的见解要更出色。实用主义者指出,即便我们自信确认无疑,真理依然会出偏差,我们不能完全肯定,何时获知了真理。在《信仰的意志》(Will to Believe)一文中,威廉·詹姆斯说,“相信真理存在,且相信我们的理智能够找到它,这种信念存在两种方式。绝对论者在这个问题上宣称,我们不仅能够认识真理,而且能够 ‘知道何时’ 认识了真理;而经验论者则认为,尽管我们可以获得真理,但我们不能准确无误地知道何时认识了真理。‘认识’ 是一回事,肯定地知道 ‘我们认识’ 则是另一回事。一个人可以坚持第一种认识,而不相信第二种。”


  和其他事情一样,我们必须把我们的伦理主张当做假设来对待,在社会领域对其进行检验。道德不会像永恒的真理一样从天而降。我们在社交互动领域检验那些好的观念,证实那些对我们有利的(比如分享),去除那些不利于我们的(比如奴役)。杜威在《达尔文对哲学的影响》(The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy)一文中表示,道德关乎如何“提升我们的教育、改善我们的举止、推进我们的政治”这样的必要问题,而非乌托邦式的理想主义。深受达尔文影响的实用主义认为,即便是道德准则,也是针对现代人社会生活的一种不断进化的适应性反应。


  时下,杜威和实用主义在中国的复兴,强调了世俗伦理的维度,是在提醒日渐壮大的富有阶层不要忘记共同利益。几千年来,中国人一直都是无神论者,并且实用主义与非常世俗化的儒家伦理极其契合。前不久,我让北京的学生向我解释中国的实用主义,我以为他们会引用邓小平那句不屑拘泥于经济意识形态的名言:“不管白猫黑猫,会捉老鼠就是好猫。”但他们一直追溯到孔子,并提醒我当孔子被问及我们应该怎样侍奉鬼神时,孔子答道,我们首先应该弄明白怎么和人打交道。只有解决了现时的问题后,我们才该去担忧超自然领域的事情。


  现在,我们有机会从实用主义角度考虑中美伦理差异,并且看到为什么说我们能够很好地重振自己的民族哲学。之前有关孝心和红包的例子揭示了中国伦理的实用主义本质,但它并非只是出于权宜或方便(尽孝这种事可没什么方便可言)。增进社会关系不是自私,而是互惠。美国人认为它是“贿赂”而对其不予理会,但它却让人们形成有益于其所在群体及其成员的互惠关系。只有当这种增进社会关系的行为未得到回报或过度了时,它才会成为一个问题。它的对错取决于程度,并非本质上就是错误的,或绝对是错误的。


  相比之下,美国伦理(以及外交政策)在权衡轻重时依然太过认真,甚至在对民主传统的坚持上,也带有一种教条主义的热情。正如已多次被指出的那样,认为上帝站在自己这一边的人几乎无所不能。当然,不久前我们看到,无神论者也会同样教条,毛泽东时代的中国自己也证明了这一点。但现在的中国已大不一样,它更支持一种实用主义的认知,即教条主义(不管是有宗教信仰的人还是无神论者)才是更大的问题。


  基于这一见解,我们自己的实用主义传统应该带给我们亟需的谦逊。


  作者史蒂芬·T·阿斯马(Stephen T. Asma)是芝加哥哥伦比亚学院(Columbia College Chicago)的哲学教授,最近著有《反对公平》一书。  翻译:陈亦亭


画梦评论日期:2014-06-11 06:43:11
美国的镇国之宝是宪法和维护宪法的三权鼎立的立法执法裁决和监督系统。虽然不完美却是世界上极少数几个好的制度之一。专制国家不可能也不愿意拿走。拿走了就宣布自己专制的灭亡。句号!
五步蛇评论日期:2014-06-10 22:35:12
作者回避了两点:1. 中国把"实用主义"划归为"实事求是"的一个子集!!!显然, 道德对于实用主义而言, 暗藏的是虚伪. 实是求是却不然, 实事求是包含了道德. 2。 至于, “红包”只能比做生物界(当然包括人类) 的排泄部位以及排泄物.只要是生物都有. 唯一不同的是有的拉猪屎, 有的拉人屎, 有的拉牛屎, 有的拉狗屎。。。。。。。。。。 .“红包”也一样, 红包仅仅属于所谓“文明世界”背后的肮脏勾当的最小单位或一个小得可怜的子集而已!!红包可以体现在"定单"上, 在"基金"上(千万别以为所谓基金都是用来做善事的),股市内部信息, 等等, 甚至武器弹药, 军事装备等等都可以归类为“红包"的最高体现形式!!能力超强的, 在国际上送"红包", 能力较弱的在人与人之间送"红包"。。。。。。。。。只要弱肉强食存在于人类一天, 各种形形色色的"红包"就必然渗透与人类世界的各个角落。
km评论日期:2014-06-10 20:13:46

完全是特洛伊木马


From China, With PragmatismBy STEPHEN T. ASMA


As an American Fulbright lecturer living in Beijing, I am regularly confronted with “lost in translation” ethical conversations. At a recent lunch with United States Embassy officers and local Chinese intellectuals, we had a complete cultural breakdown over red envelopes.

My students in Beijing and Shanghai all know John Dewey’s name, but most of my Chicago undergrads back home do not.


Chinese people regularly give red envelopes, or hongbao, filled with money as gifts for weddings, births, New Year celebrations and so on. The red color is thought to be good luck. It is very common for a Chinese family to give hongbao to a surgeon who is about to perform a procedure on a family member. Everyone knows to do this, and everyone does it to the extent that they are able. The Americans in our group thought this practice was unethical bribery, because it sought to bias the doctor in one’s favor. The Chinese people at the table replied, “Of course it biases the doctor. That’s why we do it.” Not only were they mystified by the censure, but the Chinese were prompted to ask if the Americans had any children — for every parent surely uses any means necessary to protect loved ones.

When one embassy officer (working his best “hearts-and-minds diplomacy”) suggested that the Chinese switch the giving of hongbao to after the successful operation, rather than before, the Chinese were struck dumb with astonishment. Of course, you have to give the hongbao beforehand because it motivates the doctor. The gift tells the doctor: (a) to take special care with our child (b) we respect your surgical skills/education and “give face” accordingly (c) we are devoted to our child, will hold you responsible and have the means to do so. The fact that not everyone can afford to influence their doctor with hongbao is not grounds for withholding it, since we’re trying to protect my child here and now. The parent, according to the Chinese, should never weigh the child’s well-being against something so arcane as an abstract principle.

This simple confusion exposes tectonic ethical differences between the two cultures. Many Americans see patronage like hongbao as intrinsic corruption. Sure, it starts simple, they suggest, but it scales up to corrupt party members taking bribes and absconding with great wealth. The Chinese on the other hand recognize that hongbao exchange is good manners and important social grooming (guanxi), and has nothing to do with graft, which they also condemn as selfish. Most Westerners cannot understand the pragmatic ethics of the Chinese, dismissing any preferential system as unethical because it fails to respect every citizen equally.

This chasm is especially notable since the only official philosophy America ever produced goes by that very name — pragmatism. It is centered in the ideas of a small group of late 19th- and early 20th-century thinkers that includes John Dewey, William James and Charles Sanders Peirce (whom James acknowledged as pragmatism’s philosophical founder). American pragmatism’s influence in both academic and intellectual life was significant but not long-lived. As analytic philosophy gained footholds in the American university system, the influence of pragmatism faded, though it was revived and revised when it was taken up again by philosophers, Richard Rorty foremost among them, in the post-Cold War era.

In a 1906 lecture, “What Pragmatism Means,” James said that the pragmatic method sought to “interpret each notion by tracing its respective practical consequences.” I would argue that at this moment, that method seems more Chinese than American.

Most Americans are familiar with Beijing’s pragmatism when it comes to foreign policy. Uninterested in moral debates with other nations, China takes the position that its policies are “just business,” and trades with saints and tyrants alike. The United States, at least publicly, looks down its nose at this seeming lack of principle, but it is my view that we fail to understand the deeper pragmatic ethic in Chinese culture.

These days, it seems that pragmatism is more commonly embraced by Chinese intellectuals than by Americans. In China, enthusiasm for Dewey’s philosophy in particular is growing rapidly, while back home interest in it languishes. The dean of my school in Beijing Foreign Studies University, Professor Sun Youzhong, explained that an extensive new translation of Dewey’s voluminous works is underway at East China Normal University in Shanghai, and these will include many lectures that Dewey gave when he lived in China from 1919 to 1921. There have also been recent conferences on Dewey’s philosophy in Beijing and Shanghai, and my own undergraduate students all know his name, while most of my Chicago undergrads back home do not. If such evidence is anecdotal at best, there is some statistical indication that interest in American pragmatism is withering in its own soil: American graduate programs that offer the opportunity to specialize in our homegrown philosophy make up only around 10 percent of degree-granting philosophy departments.

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Read previous contributions to this series.

The overarching theme of Dewey’s philosophy, and that of William James before him, is that an experimental approach to life  — one that tests ideas in the realm of action — should guide us in all domains, including religion, politics, ethics, art and, of course, science. Dewey argued against sclerotic ideology, absolutism and essentialism. Too many of us are overconfident about our opinions and tend to view them as gems of certainty, outshining those of other people, cultures and eras. To all this confident certainty, pragmatists pointed out that truth is fallible and we can’t be entirely sure when we’ve arrived at it. William James, in his “Will to Believe,” says, “the faith that truth exists, and that our minds can find it, may be held in two ways. The absolutists in this matter say that we not only can attain to knowing truth, but we can know when we have attained to knowing it; while the empiricists think that although we may attain it, we cannot infallibly know when. To know is one thing, and to know for certain that we know is another. One may hold to the first being possible without the second.”

Our ethical claims, like everything else, need to be treated as hypotheses that we test in the social realm. Morality does not fall from the sky as eternal truth. We try out notions of the good in the realm of social interaction, and we validate ones that work for us (like sharing) and eliminate ones that don’t (slavery). Dewey, in his essay “The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy,” says ethics is not about utopian idealism, but needful matters like how to “improve our education, ameliorate our manners, advance our politics.” Pragmatism, heavily influenced by Darwin, holds that even ethics is an evolving adaptive response of Homo sapiens’ social life.

The current renaissance of Dewey and pragmatism in China stresses the secular ethics dimension as a way to remind a growing wealthy class of the common good.  Chinese people have been atheists for thousands of years, and pragmatism is very congenial with the deeply secular Confucian ethic. When I asked my Beijing students recently to explain Chinese pragmatism to me, I expected them to cite Deng Xiaoping’s famous dismissal of economic ideology: “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice.” But they went all the way back to Confucius and reminded me that when he was asked how we should best serve the ghosts and spirits, Confucius replied that we should first figure out how to serve human beings. Only after we solve the problems of the here and now should we worry about the supernatural realm.

Now, we’re in a position to consider Chinese and American ethical differences from a pragmatist perspective, and also see why we’d do well to revitalize our own national philosophy. The earlier example of filial piety and hongbao reveal the pragmatic nature of Chinese ethics, but it is not merely expedient or convenient (there is nothing convenient about filial piety). The social grooming of guanxi is not selfishness, but reciprocity. Americans dismiss it as “bribery” but it places reciprocal bonds on people that benefit the group and its members. It becomes a problem only  when the grooming is unreciprocated or excessive. It is wrong by degrees, not intrinsically or absolutely wrong.

By contrast American ethics (and foreign policy) is still too religious in its perspective, and even our democratic traditions are asserted with dogmatic gusto. As it’s been pointed out many times, someone who thinks he has God on his side is capable of almost anything. Of course, we’ve seen lately that atheists can be just as dogmatic, and China herself proved this in the Mao era. But China is very different now, and aligns more with the pragmatic insight that dogmatism (whether religious or atheist) is the bigger problem.

Given that insight, our own pragmatist tradition should give us a well-needed dose of humility.

Stephen T. Asma

Stephen T. Asma is professor of philosophy and fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science and Culture at Columbia College Chicago. His most recent book is “Against Fairness.”

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 9, 2014

An earlier version of this post misspelled the surname of Charles Sanders Peirce. It is not Pierce.







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