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朝向21世紀的哲學家﹝三﹞:約翰·布洛克曼

朝向21世紀的哲學家﹝三﹞:約翰·布洛克曼

◎宋澤萊

21世紀新人文主義的學者,在美國最重要的是應該是約翰‧布羅克曼(John Brockman),在英國則是朱利安‧赫胥黎(Julian Huxley)。

 

布羅克曼非常不滿老舊的人文主義,認為以往的人文主義學者不懂科學,所談的理論不符實際,遠離真實。他建構網路和出版的平台,廣泛邀請各門各業有成就的科學家來談文化,造成了一種風潮,和以往的人文主義有天壤之別,布羅克曼的影響力日漸深遠。

 

簡介如下:

 一位對當代科學思潮相當熟悉並且熱中於討論及推廣的文化推動者,已經出版超過二十餘種書,包括《新人文主義:從科學的角度觀看》﹝The New Humanists: Science At the Edge﹞、《我們這樣想世界》(How Things Are: Science Tool Kit for the Mind)、《第三種文化:跨越科學與人文的鴻溝》(The Third Culture: Beyond Scientific Revolution)、《108個改變歷史的偉大發明》(The greatest inventions of the past 2,000 years)、《未來英雄》未來英雄(Digerati : Encounters with the Cyber Elite)等書。他也是著名網站Edge.org的創辦人和負責人,這個網站已經成為科學家與思想家交流的平台。

 

以下是布羅克曼所寫的一篇文章,翻譯和英文轉貼於下:

 

【轉貼】

 

第三種文化
譯者:mindyoy

 

第三種文化包括科學家及經驗世界中的其他思想家們,他們通過自己的作品和解釋性寫作,正逐步取代傳統知識份子,向人們揭示生活的深層意義,重新定義我們是誰、我們是什麼。

——約翰·布洛克曼 


在過去的幾年裡,美國精神生活的操練場發生了變化,傳統知識份子日趨邊緣化。50年代所學的佛洛德學說、馬克思學說和現代主義,都不足以讓人能夠成為90年代的思考者。美國傳統知識份子確實在某種程度上越來越保守,他們不只對當代許多真正意義重大的學術成就一無所知,還(堅持這種無知並)為此感到自豪。傳統知識份子的文化多屬於非實證領域,且對科學不屑一顧。它用的是自己的行話,掃自家的門前雪。其主要特徵是對注解加以注解,這種注解加注解的繁複膨脹,最終丟失了真實世界。

 

1959年,C.P. 斯諾(C.P. Snow)發表了《兩種文化》。一種是人文知識份子的,另一種是科學家的。他帶著懷疑的口吻寫道,30年代的人文知識份子趁人不注意時,自封為“知識份子”,似乎除了他們別無他者。“文人”所下的新定義將科學家排除在外,如天文學家愛德溫·哈勃、數學家約翰·馮·諾伊曼、控制論學家諾伯特·維納,物理學家阿爾伯特·愛因斯坦、尼爾斯·波爾和維爾納·海森堡。


人文知識份子如何做到這點呢?首先,科學界的人們沒有充分地證明其作品的啟示意義。其次,雖然許多卓越的科學家,如物理學家亞瑟·愛丁頓和詹姆斯·金斯,也為普通大眾寫書,但是他們的作品被自詡為知識份子的文人所無視,且作品中表達的思想所具有的價值和重要性也被當作是學術探索活動而不為人知,原因在於科學不是主流期刊雜誌的關注物件。

 

在1963年再版的《兩種文化》中,斯諾收錄一篇新文章,《再看兩種文化》。在該文中,斯諾樂觀地提出,未來將出現一種新的文化,即“第三種文化”,這種文化能填補人文知識份子和科學家之間溝通的鴻溝。在斯諾提出的“第三種文化”中,人文知識份子將與科學家平等對話。雖然我這裡借用了斯諾的用詞,但我所指的第三種文化不同於斯諾所預見的。人文知識份子並沒有與科學家進行溝通。是科學家直接與普通大眾溝通。傳統學術媒體採取的是直線策略:記者加以捧高,教授加以貶低。如今,第三種文化的思想家常繞開中間人,力求以一種可行的方式,向以求知為閱讀目的的大眾表達他們最深刻的思想。


最近幾本嚴肅科學作品的成功出版,只有因循守舊的知識份子會覺得意外驚訝。在他們看來,這些書是偏離常規的,它們是用來買的,而不是用來讀的。我不贊同。人們對新鮮的重要思想有著強烈的求知渴望,願意努力讓自己獲得知識,這是第三種文化興起的最好證明。


第三種文化的思想家能贏得廣泛的興趣,不僅僅在於他們的寫作能力;傳統上所謂的“科學”如今已成為“大眾文化”。斯圖爾特·布蘭德(Stewart Brand)寫道“科學才是唯一的新聞。打開報紙,一眼掃過,那些有人情味的內容不過重複著老生常談的“他說她說”,政治和經濟的內容也是重複著同樣拙劣的故事,時尚潮流不過是一種可悲的新鮮感幻覺,而只要你懂得科學,技術也是可以預見的。人類本性沒有太大的改變;而科學的變化卻是日新月異,這些變化正在不可逆轉地改變世界。“在我們如今生活的世界裡,變化速度本身就是最大的變化。科學因此也成為重要的話題。


在過去幾年裡,獲得報紙和雜誌重點關注的科學課題包括:分子生物學、人工智慧、人造生物、混沌理論、大規模平行計算、神經網路、宇宙膨脹、分形幾何、複雜自我調整系統、超弦理論、生物多樣性、納米技術、人類基因組、專家系統、間斷平衡論、細胞自動機、模糊邏輯、太空生物圈、蓋亞假說、虛擬實境、網際空間、萬億次超級電腦。此外還有其它課題。對於這些思想,不存在什麼經典作品集或公認的作品名單。第三文化的力量恰恰在於它能夠容忍分歧,保留不同的人對哪些作品該得到嚴肅對待的不同看法。跟以往的智力探索不同,第三種文化的成就,並不是名流階層爭論不休的邊緣性爭論:它們將影響星球上每個人的生活。“


知識份子所起的作用包括溝通交流。知識份子不僅要懂得知識,還要影響同代人的思想。知識份子能夠融匯百家之言,能宣傳並交流自己的思想。在文化歷史學家羅素·雅各比(Russell Jacoby)1987年發表的《最後的知識份子》一書中,他哀痛一代公共思想家的逝去,痛心他們被冷血無情的學者所取代。雅各比說對了,也說錯了。第三種文化思想家就是新一代的公共知識份子。


當今的美國是歐洲和亞洲知識份子的學術溫床。這種趨勢從二戰前阿爾伯特·愛因斯坦及其他歐洲科學家移民美國開始,並在蘇聯成功發射衛星後美國大學興起的科學教育中得到進一步的推動。第三種文化的興起,提出了知識份子話語的新模式,重新確立了美國在某些重大思想領域的重要性。縱觀歷史,精神生活總帶著這樣一個烙印,只有少數人為其他所有人進行嚴肅的思考。我們正在見證的,是火炬從傳統文人知識份子這群思想家的手中傳遞到一個新群體——正在興起的第三種文化知識份子的手中。


約翰·布洛克曼(John Brockman) 

1991 

 

TheThird Culture


The third culture consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are.



In the past few years, the playing field of American intellectual life has shifted, and the traditional intellectual has become increasingly marginalized. A 1950s education in Freud, Marx, and modernism is not a sufficient qualification for a thinking person in the 1990s. Indeed, the traditional American intellectuals are, in a sense, increasingly reactionary, and quite often proudly (and perversely) ignorant of many of the truly significant intellectual accomplishments of our time. Their culture, which dismisses science, is often nonempirical. It uses its own jargon and washes its own laundry. It is chiefly characterized by comment on comments, the swelling spiral of commentary eventually reaching the point where the real world gets lost.



In 1959 C.P. Snow published a book titled The Two Cultures. On the one hand, there were the literary intellectuals; on the other, the scientists. He noted with incredulity that during the 1930s the literary intellectuals, while no one was looking, took to referring to themselves as "the intellectuals," as though there were no others. This new definition by the "men of letters" excluded scientists such as the astronomer Edwin Hubble, the mathematician John von Neumann, the cyberneticist Norbert Wiener, and the physicists Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg.



How did the literary intellectuals get away with it? First, people in the sciences did not make an effective case for the implications of their work. Second, while many eminent scientists, notably Arthur Eddington and James Jeans, also wrote books for a general audience, their works were ignored by the self-proclaimed intellectuals, and the value and importance of the ideas presented remained invisible as an intellectual activity, because science was not a subject for the reigning journals and magazines.



In a second edition of The Two Cultures, published in 1963, Snow added a new essay, "The Two Cultures: A Second Look," in which he optimistically suggested that a new culture, a "third culture," would emerge and close the communications gap between the literary intellectuals and the scientists. In Snow's third culture, the literary intellectuals would be on speaking terms with the scientists. Although I borrow Snow's phrase, it does not describe the third culture he predicted. Literary intellectuals are not communicating with scientists. Scientists are communicating directly with the general public. Traditional intellectual media played a vertical game: journalists wrote up and professors wrote down. Today, third-culture thinkers tend to avoid the middleman and endeavor to express their deepest thoughts in a manner accessible to the intelligent reading public.



The recent publishing successes of serious science books have surprised only the old-style intellectuals. Their view is that these books are anomalies--that they are bought but not read. I disagree. The emergence of this third-culture activity is evidence that many people have a great intellectual hunger for new and important ideas and are willing to make the effort to educate themselves.



The wide appeal of the third-culture thinkers is not due solely to their writing ability; what traditionally has been called "science" has today become "public culture." Stewart Brand writes that "Science is the only news. When you scan through a newspaper or magazine, all the human interest stuff is the same old he-said-she-said, the politics and economics the same sorry cyclic dramas, the fashions a pathetic illusion of newness, and even the technology is predictable if you know the science. Human nature doesn't change much; science does, and the change accrues, altering the world irreversibly." We now live in a world in which the rate of change is the biggest change. Science has thus become a big story.



Scientific topics receiving prominent play in newspapers and magazines over the past several years include molecular biology, artificial intelligence, artificial life, chaos theory, massive parallelism, neural nets, the inflationary universe, fractals, complex adaptive systems, superstrings, biodiversity, nanotechnology, the human genome, expert systems, punctuated equilibrium, cellular automata, fuzzy logic, space biospheres, the Gaia hypothesis, virtual reality, cyberspace, and teraflop machines. Among others. There is no canon or accredited list of acceptable ideas. The strength of the third culture is precisely that it can tolerate disagreements about which ideas are to be taken seriously. Unlike previous intellectual pursuits, the achievements of the third culture are not the marginal disputes of a quarrelsome mandarin class: they will affect the lives of everybody on the planet.



The role of the intellectual includes communicating. Intellectuals are not just people who know things but people who shape the thoughts of their generation. An intellectual is a synthesizer, a publicist, a communicator. In his 1987 book The Last Intellectuals, the cultural historian Russell Jacoby bemoaned the passing of a generation of public thinkers and their replacement by bloodless academicians. He was right, but also wrong. The third-culture thinkers are the new public intellectuals.



America now is the intellectual seedbed for Europe and Asia. This trend started with the prewar emigration of Albert Einstein and other European scientists and was further fueled by the post- Sputnik boom in scientific education in our universities. The emergence of the third culture introduces new modes of intellectual discourse and reaffirms the preeminence of America in the realm of important ideas. Throughout history, intellectual life has been marked by the fact that only a small number of people have done the serious thinking for everybody else. What we are witnessing is a passing of the torch from one group of thinkers, the traditional literary intellectuals, to a new group, the intellectuals of the emerging third culture.

John Brockman

1991

 

 

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