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自我意识能否抑制自私行为?

自我意识能否抑制自私行为?


我们翻译这篇文章的理由


在万物之中,只有人类才有自我意识,但是个体的自我意识也容易导致个体的自私。当个体的自私利益与人类整体利益相冲突时,个体的自我意识能否战胜自私呢?

——邹世昌


👇


自我意识能否抑制自私行为?


作者: Joseph LeDoux

译者:邵海灵&李静轩

校对:邹世昌

策划:徐嘉茵


Can our self-conscious minds save us from ourselfish selves?

自我意识能否抑制自私行为?


Like all living things, humans are organisms, biological entities that function as physiological aggregates whose constituent parts operate with a high degree of cooperation and a low degree of conflict. But unlike other organisms, humans possess a rogue component – a brain network that can, at will, choose to defect and undermine the survival mission and purpose of the rest of the body. This is the network that underlies human conscious­ness, and especially our capacity for autonoetic, or reflective, self-awareness, the basis of the conceptions that underlie our greatest achievements as a species – art, music, architecture, literature, science – and our ability to appreciate them.
像所有生物一样,人类都是有机体,是如生理聚集体一般发挥功用的生物实体,其组成部分密切合作,协同运行,彼此之间很少发生冲突。但是与其他生物不同,人类拥有一个流氓成分——一个可以随意背叛并破坏身体其余部分的生存使命的大脑组织。这个组织是人类自我意识的基础,尤其是我们自我反思的能力,而以这一能力为根基构建的种种概念,又为我们作为一个物种所能取得的最伟大的成就——艺术、音乐、建筑、文学、科学——以及我们对这些成就的欣赏能力,奠定了基础。


The autonoetically conscious human brain is the only entity in the history of life that has ever been able to choose, at will, to terminate his or her own existence, or even put the organism’s physical existence at risk for the thrill of simply doing so – the other cells and systems be damned. Some argue, on the basis of anecdotal evidence, that some other animals also commit suicide. But whether such behaviours are truly intentional, in the sense of being based on a thought about causing one’s self to cease to exist, is controversial. In the late-19th century, the sociologist Émile Durkheim proposed that the term ‘suicide’ should be used only in cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act that the individual knows or believes will produce the intended result – death. Durkheim argued that conceiving a goal of this kind depends on possession of a reflective form of consciousness that other animals lack – that the physiological capacities they possess are insufficient to this purpose. He concluded that true suicide, in its various forms, is a social condition of humans.
具有自觉性的人类大脑是生命史上唯一能够随意选择终止其自身的存在,甚至为了获得冒险的刺激和快感而不惜将肉身置于危险境地的实体——让其他细胞和生理系统都见鬼去吧。有人以民间轶事为证据,认为有些动物也会自杀。但是,无论这种行为是否真的是有意为之,单看这种行为是否基于一个“要让自己停止存在”的念头,就是存在争议的。在19世纪末,社会学家埃米尔•涂尔干提出,只有当事人知道或相信某个积极或消极的行为会产生预期的结果(即死亡),这种行为导致的死亡才能称之为“自杀”。涂尔干认为,人类之所以能怀有这种目的、形成这类想法,取决于其他动物所缺乏的一种反射性意识形态——也就是说,动物所具有的生理能力不足以让它们构想出这样的目的。他总结说,各种形式的“真正的自杀”,是人类独有的社会状况。


Early humans are believed to have been unremarkable compared with coexisting fauna. Then, at some point (estimates range between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago), something happened to distinguish our ancestors from the rest of the animal kingdom. They developed novel capacities and ways of existing and interacting with one another – language; complex hierarchical relational reasoning; representation of self versus other; mental time-travel. Autonoetic consciousness, the human ability to know about our own existence, was the result.
与同期共存的动物相比,远古时期的人类并没有什么出类拔萃之处。然后,在某个节点(估计是在50,000到200,000年前),发生了某些事情,使我们的祖先与动物王国的其余生物区分开来了。他们发展出了全新的能力、生存方式以及彼此之间的互动方式——语言;复杂的层次关系推理;自我与他人的比较;幻想中的时空旅行等等。结果就是自主意识的诞生,即人类知晓其自身存在的能力。


That autonoesis might be unique to humans does not mean that it appeared out of the blue. For one thing, our primate ancestors had sophisticated cognitive capacities, including working memory and executive functions. These made possible the integration of perceptual and mnemonic information in real time, and the ability to deliberate about alternative courses of action. Such capacities are known to depend on networks involving lateral areas of prefrontal cortex. This is important because both human and nonhuman primates possess these areas, but other mammals do not. Perhaps these networks allowed ancestral primates to have a noetic (factual or semantic) consciousness of objects and events, including the ability to distinguish between what is useful and what is harmful, and maybe even to have a simple semantic version of self-awareness. But they would not have been able to experience their self as an entity with a personal past, and imagine possible futures, including the existential realisation of future nonexistence. This capacity for autonoesis, I propose, depended on the emergence of unique, enriched features of prefrontal networks that humans are known to possess, but that even other primates lack.  
这种自觉可能是人类独有的,但这并不意味着它是突然出现的。一方面,我们的灵长类祖先具有复杂的认知能力,包括工作记忆和执行能力。这些使知觉和记忆信息的实时整合成为可能,并且使人们有能力思考其他的行动方案。现在我们已经知道,这种能力取决于和前额叶皮层的侧面区域有关的认知网络。这一点很重要,因为人类和非人类的灵长类动物都拥有这些区域,而其他哺乳动物则没有。也许这些网络使我们的灵长类祖先具有了对物体和事件的(事实或语义层面上的)自觉意识,包括区分什么有用什么有害的能力,甚至可能形成了反映自我意识的简单语言。但是他们还无法把自我作为一个有着各自过往的实体去体验,也无法想象自己在尚未发生的未来将如何存在。我认为,这种自觉的能力取决于额叶前网络的出现,这一网络独特而丰富的细节是人类独有的,其他灵长类动物却没有。


Given that autonoetic consciousness can undermine the survival goals of the organism, it must have had useful consequences. Perhaps it enabled the ability to have a self-focused perspective on the value of objects and events to the individual – to the self. Without the involvement of one’s subjective self, what we humans call emotions cannot be experienced. Other animals might have some kinds of emotional experiences in significant situations in their lives, but without autonoesis they cannot have the kinds of experiences we do.
鉴于自觉意识会破坏有机体的生存目标,因此它肯定也能产生有益的结果。或许它使人们能够形成一种自我聚焦的视角,去审视对象和事件对于个人(对自我)的价值。没有一个人的主观自我的参与,就无法体验我们人类所谓的情感。其他动物可能会在生命的关键时刻经历某种情感体验,但是如果没有自主性,它们就无法获得我们所经历的那种体验。


The personal, self-centred nature of the autonoetic mind leads it to assume that it is always in charge of its body’s actions. Indeed, so-called free will is one of our most cherished narratives. For example, Judeo-Christian religions teach that humans attain heaven in the afterlife through their choices in life. René Descartes’s dualistic philosophy was an attempt to reconcile such religious conceptions in light of the scientific revolution begun by Copernicus and Galileo. The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard later proposed that anxiety is the price we pay for this freedom to choose. While some movements in modern science – behaviourism being a prime example – have attempted to suppress consciousness as a scientific construct, consciousness itself did not let that rejection stand. Today, the science of consciousness is a vibrant field.
具有自主性的头脑思想是个人的、以自我为中心的,这种本质使其以为自己总是管理着身体的行为。确实,所谓的自由意志是我们最为珍视的词汇之一。例如,犹太教和基督教都教导人们通过今世的选择来进入来世的天堂。勒内•笛卡尔的二元哲学则是在哥白尼和伽利略发起科学革命后,试图与这种宗教观念互相调和的尝试。哲学家索伦•基尔凯郭尔后来提出,焦虑是我们为选择自由付出的代价。尽管现代科学中的某些运动试图将意识打压为一种科学建构,但意识本身并没有让这种拒绝站住脚——行为主义就是一个很好的例子。今天,意识科学已经成为了一个生机勃勃的领域。


The kind of consciousness supported by our unique kind of brain has enabled us to conquer frontiers. We have the power to change the environment to meet our needs; satisfy our whims, desires and fantasies; and protect ourselves from our fears and anxieties. Imagining the unknown inspires us to find new ways of existing. Pursuing these comes with risks, but we can also anticipate them and conceive of possible solutions in advance.
自我意识引领着我们探索新的领域。我们能够改变环境,从而满足我们的需要、欲望和奇思妙想,同时远离恐惧和焦虑。我们能够探索未知领域,从而找到新的生存方式。这都是有风险的,但是我们可以预测这些风险并提前想好应对策略。


Our thirst for knowledge has led to scientific and technological discoveries that have made life, at least for the lucky among us, easier in many ways. We don’t have to forage for food or drink in dangerous settings – attacks by other species, which are so common in the animal kingdom, are simply not part of daily life for most humans. Food is kept fresh by refrigeration. We easily combat seasonal changes in temperature with other convenient appliances. We have access to medications to treat, and even prevent, common illnesses, and surgical procedures can fix and, in some cases, replace damaged body parts. We can electronically communicate with people anywhere in the world instantaneously.
对知识的渴求让我们不断在科学和技术领域取得进展,让人们(至少是一部分人)生活的方方面面都变得更加轻松。我们无需在危机四伏的环境中觅食,也不会被其他物种攻击。食物能在冰箱中保鲜。各种电器让我们在四季变换中过得十分舒适。药物能够治疗甚至预防疾病,手术能够修复甚至替换我们受损的身体部位。电子通信让全球即时沟通成为常态。


The internet has indeed transformed life in ways worth celebrating but, like most good things, it comes at a cost. It has made it easier to be self-centred, facilitating realignments of interests that oppose the common good and challenge commonly accepted beliefs through hearsay and rumour, and even outright lies. False assertions gain credence simply through rapid repetition. Some use such tactics to undermine the value of science and its contributions to life and wellbeing, and to attack the foundations of our social structures, including our government, and its safety nets for those in need, and its checks and balances against tyranny.
网络确实将我们生活的某些方面变得更好,但是同样也产生了负面影响。网络让人们歪曲事实、散播谣传、谎话连天,让人们变得更自私,形成利益集团,公然对抗共同利益和共同信念。谎话说了多遍竟也成了真话。某些人借机贬低科学价值及其对生活的影响,借机攻击社会结构的根基,政府及其为人们提供的安全网以及对抗暴政的三权分立都囊括其中。


The pace of change to our ecosystem has become fast and furious. Global temperatures and sea levels are rising. Weather patterns are in flux. Forests are burning. Deserts are expanding. Species are becoming extinct at unprecedented rates. Many alarmed observers have called for efforts to reverse, or at least slow, changes brought on by our choices. According to the astrophysicist Adam Frank, the Earth will surely persist in some form, but it is likely that some of the life forms present today will not make it. History tells us that large organisms with energy-demanding lifestyles are especially vulnerable to environmental reconfigurations. Never, in the history of life, has any species asked more of the environment than we have.
生态系统正以迅猛的速度发生转变。全球气温和海平面正在上升。天气模式变得更加不可预测。森林正在燃烧。沙漠在扩张。物种正以前所未有的速度灭绝。许多观察员呼吁人们共同努力,来阻止,至少来推迟人类引起的种种变化。天体物理学家Adam Frank认为,地球肯定会以某种形式存在下去,但是现在地球上的某些生命形式可就没那么好运了。历史告诉我们,耗能较高的大型生物更容易受到环境变化的影响。历史上从没有一个物种像人类一样,向自然索取如此之多。


Pondering such issues, the philosopher Todd May recently asked: ‘Would human extinction be a tragedy?’ He concluded that the planet might well be better off without us, but that such an outcome would indeed be a tragedy, as we have achieved remarkable things as a species. Autonoesis, I contend, has made these possible. But it also has a dark side. With self-consciousness comes selfishness, and narcissism, enabling our most troubling and base dispositions towards others – distrust, fear, hate, greed and avarice. According to the philosopher Christophe Menant, it is the root of evil.
哲学家Todd May一直在思考这个问题,他最近说道:“人类灭绝真的会是一场悲剧吗?”他得出了这样的结论,这确实会是一场悲剧,虽然没有了人类,地球可能会变得更好,但是人类这个物种确实取得了很多非凡的成就。我认为,是自我意识让我们取得了这些成就。但是自我意识同样具有黑暗的一面。有了自我意识,就有了自私和自恋,就让我们对他人起了歹心——不信任、恐惧、憎恨、贪婪。哲学家Christophe Menant将它称之为罪恶之根。


Yet only self-conscious minds can come to the realisation, as May’s mind did, that we have an obligation to confront our selfish nature for the good of humankind, as a whole. To act on this will require a global effort. If we succeed in joining together to rise above short-sighted policies and self-indulgent desires we might avert some of the more drastic changes in the configuration of life, and preserve some kind of future for our descendants.
但正是自我意识让我们意识到,为了全人类的福祉,我们需要直面自己自私的本性,哲学家May就是这么做的。要履行这项义务需要全人类的共同努力。如果我们能够联合起来,共同抵制目光短浅的政策以及自己的私欲,我们就可能避免生命中的剧烈变动,为子孙后代留下一线生机。


We persist as individuals only if we persist as a species. We don’t have time for biological evolution to come to the rescue – it’s too slow a process. We have to depend on more rapid avenues of change – cognitive and cultural evolution – which, in turn, depend on our autonoetic minds. In the end, whether humans will be part of the Earth’s future is up to us – to the choices our self-conscious minds make.
人类不可能离群而自立。我们没有时间等待生物进化来拯救自己,生物进化太缓慢了。我们必须采取更加迅速的方法,那就是认知和文化进化,而这又依赖于我们的自我意识。到头来,我们将来是否能在地球上继续存在还是取决于人类自身,取决于人类的自我意识的选择。



自我意识能否抑制自私行为?

  • 本文原载于 Aeon

  • 原文链接:https://aeon.co/ideas/can-our-self-conscious-minds-save-us-from-our-selfish-selves




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