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【Aeon】古代贤明也带有偏见?

【Aeon】古代贤明也带有偏见?


“人非圣贤,孰能无过。”但有时即使是圣贤,也有犯错的时候。毕竟在时代大背景的局限下,人的眼界或多或少会受到限制。所以, “过而能改,善莫大焉”。


古代贤明也带有偏见?

【Aeon】古代贤明也带有偏见?

作者:Julia Baggini

译者:刘   蕊

校对:倪凌晖

编辑:唐    萧


Why sexist and racist philosophers might still be admirable

古代贤明也带有偏见?


本文选自 AEON | 取经号原创翻译

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Admiring the great thinkers of the past has become morally hazardous. Praise Immanuel Kant, and you might be reminded that he believed that ‘Humanity is at its greatest perfection in the race of the whites,’ and ‘the yellow Indians do have a meagre talent’. Laud Aristotle, and you’ll have to explain how a genuine sage could have thought that ‘the male is by nature superior and the female inferior, the male ruler and the female subject’. Write a eulogy to David Hume, as I recently did here, and you will be attacked for singing the praises of someone who wrote in 1753-54: ‘I am apt to suspect the Negroes, and in general all other species of men … to be naturally inferior to the whites.’

对过去的伟大思想家怀揣敬仰之心已成为一种道德危机。敬仰伊曼纽尔·康德,人们会提醒你,康德认为“白种人才是最完美的人种”以及“黄种的印第安人确实没什么天赋”。敬仰亚里士多德,你就得解释,为什么这位名副其实的圣人会有“男尊女卑,男君女臣”的想法。我最近在给戴维·休谟写悼词。如果你是我,你会发现人们会为悼词中的赞美而攻击你,因为这位思想家曾在1753-1754年间写道:“我倾向于认为黑人以及所有其他人种…都天生低于白种人。”


We seem to be caught in a dilemma. We can’t just dismiss the unacceptable prejudices of the past as unimportant. But if we think that holding morally objectionable views disqualifies anyone from being considered a great thinker or a political leader, then there’s hardly anyone from history left.

我们似乎陷入了一个两难的局面。我们不能简单地认为过去那些难以忍受的偏见是无关紧要。如果说伟大的思想家或政治家因为持有道德方面的异议,就被认作为不再具备有“伟大”的资格的话,那么历史上的“伟人”可能就所剩无几了。


The problem does not go away if you exclude dead white establishment males. Racism was common in the women’s suffrage movement on both sides of the Atlantic. The American suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt said that: ‘White supremacy will be strengthened, not weakened, by women’s suffrage.’ Emmeline Pankhurst, her British sister in the struggle, became a vociferous supporter of colonialism, denying that it was ‘something to decry and something to be ashamed of’ and insisting instead that ‘it is a great thing to be the inheritors of an empire like ours’. Both sexism and xenophobia have been common in the trade union movement, all in the name of defending the rights of workers – male, non-immigrant workers that is.

即使将这些过去的权威白人男性排除在外,问题依然存在。在大西洋两岸的妇女选举权运动当中,种族歧视随处可见。美国妇女参政权论者卡利·查普曼·卡特指出:“妇女选举权运动不但不会削弱白人的优越地位,反而会起到进一步推动的作用。”而她的英国同盟,埃米琳·潘克赫斯特,则成为了狂热的殖民主义支持者。潘克赫斯特否认殖民主义是“一件应当受到谴责和感到羞耻的事情”。相反,她坚持认为“被我们这种帝国所殖民,是多么美好。”性别歧视和仇外情绪在工会运动中十分普遍,它们通常以维护工人权利的名义出现——而这里的工人指的是那些男性非移民工人。

Vociferous  /vo’sɪfərəs/ If you describe someone as vociferous, you mean that they speak with great energy and determination, because they want their views to be heard. 大声疾呼的


However, the idea that racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted views automatically disqualify a historical figure from admiration is misguided. Anyone who cannot bring themselves to admire such a historical figure betrays a profound lack of understanding about just how socially conditioned all our minds are, even the greatest. Because the prejudice seems so self-evidently wrong, they just cannot imagine how anyone could fail to see this without being depraved.

然而,我们也不能认为历史人物持有种族歧视和性别歧视等观点,就不配受人敬仰。如果有人无法欣赏这样的历史人物,那是因为他没能理解我们的思想是怎样被我们所处的社会塑造的。即使是那些最伟大的人也不能幸免。这种偏见错得如此明显,以至于人们根本想象不到,一个善良的人也有可能持有这种偏见。


Their outrage arrogantly supposes that they are so virtuous that they would never be so immoral, even when everyone around them was blind to the injustice. We should know better. The most troubling lesson of the Third Reich is that it was supported largely by ordinary people who would have led blameless lives had they not by chance lived through particular toxic times. Any confidence we might have that we would not have done the same is without foundation as we now know what people then did not know. Going along with Nazism is unimaginable today because we need no imagination to understand just what the consequences were.

这些人自大且愤怒地认为自己是如此得善良,即使身边的人会对不公正视而不见,他们也不会有不道德的时候。我们应该清楚地知道,第三帝国(指希特勒统治下的德国)最令人不安的教训便是,它的支持者大多是普通人,如果不是恰好经历了这段惨绝人寰的特殊时期,他们也不会犯下这样的罪行。我们自信地认为自己不会重蹈覆辙,但这种自信毫无根据可言。我们之所以不会重蹈覆辙,是因为现在的我们了解到了当时的人们所了解不到的信息。我们清楚地了解纳粹主义的后果,所以支持纳粹主义在今天是一件不可能的事。


Why do so many find it impossible to believe that any so-called genius could fail to see that their prejudices were irrational and immoral? One reason is that our culture has its own deep-seated and mistaken assumption: that the individual is an autonomous human intellect independent from the social environment. Even a passing acquaintance with psychology, sociology or anthropology should squash that comfortable illusion. The enlightenment ideal that we can and should all think for ourselves should not be confused with the hyper-enlightenment fantasy that we can think all by ourselves. Our thinking is shaped by our environment in profound ways that we often aren’t even aware of. Those who refuse to accept that they are as much limited by these forces as anyone else have delusions of intellectual grandeur.

为什么这么多人无法相信,那些所谓的天才有时候也意识不到自己的偏见是不理智且不道德的呢?原因之一在于我们的文化有其根深蒂固的错误假设,即个体是一种独立于社会环境的自主的人类智慧。即使对心理学、社会学和人类学只是略知一二,也应当消除这种想当然的错觉。我们能够且应该独立思考的启蒙思想不应当与我们能够完全独立思考的超启蒙幻想混为一谈。我们的思维受了所处环境的影响,有时甚至意识不到。拒绝承认这些影响所产生的限制,也就导致有人活在了智慧的宏大幻想当中。


When a person is so deeply embedded in an immoral system, it becomes problematic to attribute individual responsibility. This is troubling because we are wedded to the idea that the locus of moral responsibility is the perfectly autonomous individual. Were we to take the social conditioning of abhorrent beliefs and practices seriously, the fear is that everyone would be off the hook, and we’d be left with a hopeless moral relativism.

当一个人深陷于不道德体系之中时,个人责任就变得难以辨别。这点叫人不安。因为我们一直认为道德责任的核心便是充分自主的个体。我们担心,如果承认了社会大环境中的偏见思想和行为会对生活在其中的个体产生影响,那不道德的人都不用承担道德上的谴责了,而我们也将陷入无望的道德相对主义当中。


But the worry that we would be unable to condemn what most needs condemnation is baseless. Misogyny and racism are no less repulsive because they are the products of societies as much, if not more, than they are of individuals. To excuse Hume is not to excuse racism; to excuse Aristotle is not to excuse sexism. Racism and sexism were never okay, people simply wrongly believed that they were.

我们担心最该遭到谴责的事物因此未能遭到谴责。这种担心是毫无根据的。如果我们承认了社会环境的影响力,厌女症和种族歧视也不会得到谅解,因为他们既是社会的产物,也是个人的产物。为休谟开脱并不意味着为种族歧视开脱,为亚里士多德开脱并不意味着为性别歧视开脱。种族歧视和性别歧视在那个年代并不是什么好事,只是人们错误地认为它们好而已。

misogyny  /maɪ’sɑdʒɪni/ Misogyny is a strong dislike of women. 厌女症; 女人嫌忌


Accepting this does not mean glossing over the prejudices of the past. Becoming aware that even the likes of Kant and Hume were products of their times is a humbling reminder that the greatest minds can still be blind to mistakes and evils, if they are widespread enough. It should also prompt us to question whether the prejudices that rudely erupt to the surface in their most infamous remarks might also be lurking in the background elsewhere in their thinking. A lot of the feminist critique of Dead White Male philosophy is of this kind, arguing that the evident misogyny is just the tip of a much more insidious iceberg. Sometimes that might be true but we should not assume that it is. Many blindspots are remarkably local, leaving the general field of vision perfectly clear.

接受这一点并不意味着就要全面掩盖过去的偏见。我们要意识到,即使是康德和休谟这样的伟人也只是时代的产物。这也提醒着我们,如果社会上的观点都是错误和邪恶的,那即使是伟大的历史人物仍有可能对其视而不见;这也应该促使我们去质疑,那些粗俗浮现在臭名昭著言论中的偏见是否也潜藏在他们思想的其他角落当中。许多女权主义者就是这样指责“白种男性至上”原则的,认为显而易见的厌女症只是冰山一角。这种观念有时确实正确,但我们不应该假设它完全正确。许多盲点都过于局部,整体视野也就更加清晰了。


The classicist Edith Hall’s defence of Aristotle’s misogyny is a paradigm of how to save a philosopher from his worst self. Rather than judge him by today’s standards, she argues that a better test is to ask whether the fundamentals of his way of thinking would lead him to be prejudiced today. Given Aristotle’s openness to evidence and experience, there is no question that today he would need no persuading that women are men’s equals. Hume likewise always deferred to experience, and so would not today be apt to suspect anything derogatory about dark-skinned peoples. In short, we don’t need to look beyond the fundamentals of their philosophy to see what was wrong in how they applied them.

古典主义者伊迪斯·霍尔为亚里士多德的厌女症进行了辩解,很好地展示了如何将哲学家从负面形象中拯救出来。她认为,与其用现代标准来评判亚里士多德,最好还是想想,亚里士多德思维方式的基础若放在今天,是否还会导致他的偏见。鉴于他对证据和经验的开放态度,毫无疑问,今天的亚里士多德无需他人说服,便相信女性拥有和男性平等的地位。同样,休谟也喜欢遵循经验。因此,他若活在今日,也定不会对深肤色人种产生任何贬低和质疑。简而言之,我们无需越过哲学的基本原理来判断哲学家们在运用这些原理的时候存在哪些问题。

paradigm /’pærə’daɪm/  A paradigm is a model for something that explains it or shows how it can be produced. 范例


One reason we might be reluctant to excuse thinkers of the past is because we fear that excusing the dead will entail excusing the living. If we can’t blame Hume, Kant or Aristotle for their prejudices, how can we blame the people being called out by the #MeToo movement for acts that they committed in social milieus where they were completely normal? After all, wasn’t Harvey Weinstein all too typical of Hollywood’s ‘casting couch’ culture?

我们不愿为过去的思想家开脱,原因之一是我们害怕为过去的人开脱会导致为现在的人开脱。如果我们为休谟、康德和亚里士多德的偏见找到了借口,那我们又怎么可以去谴责那些在MeToo运动中犯错的人呢?他们所犯下的错误,在现在这个社会环境下,可是完全正常的呢!毕竟,哈维·温斯坦不就是好莱坞“潜规则”的典型代表吗?


But there is a very important difference between the living and the dead. The living can come to see how their actions were wrong, acknowledge that, and show remorse. When their acts were crimes, they can also face justice. We just cannot afford to be as understanding of present prejudices as we are of past ones. Changing society requires making people see that it is possible to overcome the prejudices they were brought up with. We are not responsible for creating the distorted values that shaped us and our society but we can learn to take responsibility for how we deal with them now.

但是过去的人和现在的人之间存在着一点非常重要的差别。现在的人能够看到自己的行为错在哪了,承认这些错误并展现出懊悔。犯罪后,他们会面临法律的制裁。我们不能像过去的人那样来理解现在的偏见。要想改变社会,就要让人们认识到,克服从小就形成的偏见是有可能的。过去那些扭曲的价值观不仅影响了我们,还影响了整个社会,对于这一点,我们无须负什么责任;但对于如何在当下面对这些价值观,我们责无旁贷。


The dead do not have such an opportunity, and so to waste anger chastising them is pointless. We are right to lament the iniquities of the past, but to blame individuals for things they did in less enlightened times using the standards of today is too harsh.

过去的人没有这样的机会了,因此浪费情感惩罚他们毫无意义可言。我们悲叹于过去的不公正,这并没有什么错,但是用当下的标准谴责人们在那个不怎么开明的时代所做的事,这就有些苛刻了。


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【Aeon】古代贤明也带有偏见?


<原文地址:https://aeon.co/ideas/why-sexist-and-racist-philosophers-might-still-be-admirable>

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