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对Personal Identity这一历史悠久的哲学问题进行了深入浅出的讨论。行文流畅明晰,引领(哪怕是最外行的)读者置身于问题探讨的语境中。同时,作为一种颇具神秘吸引力的立场,世界主义到底是可欲并可行的,还是过分理想的空中楼阁?作者对读者发出了深思的邀约。




作者:Kenneth Taylor 




Negotiating Identities: The Crash Solution


I want to try to dig a little deeper in this post into a question that kind of simmered beneath the surface of our discussion but wasn’t really addressed headon. The issue has a little bit to do with identities that are regarded bythose who adopt them as in some ways “non-negotiable” and as more orless direct sources of directives about how to live one’s own life, and asource of directives about how to live one’s life in relation to others who don’t share one’s identity and may even be hostile to it in some ways. 


By a “non-negotiable” aspect of an identity I mean, roughly, an aspect that the”holder” of that identity regards as non-negotiable and thus as not subject to revision and reconfiguration.  It doesn’t matter for my purposes whether the relevant identity is “really” up for grabs or subject to revision in certain ways.  I think probably all identities are revisable and are subject to reconfiguration in light of all sorts of things.  For example, some identities simply cease to be possible at certain junctures. Once the slaves were freed, one could remain an unreconstructed southern racist, but you had to find new ways to do so.  You couldn’t simply persist as a slaving-owning agrarian southerner, with all that entailed.


On my view, much social friction, political turmoil, cultural change is driven by the “clash” of identities regarded as non-negotiable with realities on the ground that exert pressure for the reconfiguration of such identities.   I’m not saying that only identities regarded asnon-negotiable are subject to external pressures of this sort.  But thosewho regard some “threatened”   aspect of their identity asnon-negotiable are, I think, likely to resist in different ways from those whoregard their identities as negotiable.  One can either participate willingly or be dragged kicking and screaming into the reconfiguration of an identity, for example. Think of the heretofore unreconstructed sexist who sincerely tries to re-think sex and gender in response to social change vs the heretofore unreconstructed sexist who does everything in his power to help maintain the old order and resist the new.


The real question, I suppose, is what, if any, aspects of an identity are worth regardingas non-negotiable?   I’m not sure there’s an a priori “once and for all” answer to that question.   When I’m in a “liberalcosmopolitan” frame of mind, I’m tempted to say that just those aspects of one’s identity that are consistent with a thorough going allegiance to”the party of humanity” are worth considering non-negotiable.Everything that divides and separates, that pits “them” against”us” is unworthy of being regarded as non-negotiable.

在我看来,真正的问题是,身份的哪些方面(如果有的话)是值得被视为不可协商的?对于这个问题,我不确定是否有一个“一劳永逸”的先验答案。当以一种“自由世界主义者(liberal cosmopolitan)”的视角思考时,我想说,在一个人的身份中,只有那些完全忠于“人类党(the party of humanity)”的方面才值得被视作不可协商。一切造成分裂、区隔、形成“他们”与“我们”这种对立关系的东西都不值得被认为是没有商量余地的。

There is probably something right about that. But although I count myself a”would-be” liberal cosmopolitan, I actually regard a liberal cosmopolitanism as a “that toward which” some of us have chosen to work, not as an actual concrete achievement already present on the ground. I mean several things by that. I’ve laid out some of it in other posts including How to be a Relativist and I took on some related issues in  On the Absence of Dogmatism. But I don’t really want to re-hash those posts now. 


The current point I want to make about liberal cosmopolitanism is that in one way it doesn’t seem thick enough to support a concrete, particular identity that istied up with a shared way of life.  And in that sense liberal cosmopolitanism doesn’t really define one possible identity that one might adopt among other possible identities. What, exactly, would it mean to live on behalf of “humanity at large”? What would be the character of one’s relation to one’s family, friends, fellow citizens, or co-coreligionists if one lived primarily as one human among others?  One possible answer is that you would always be a stranger,invested in none of the special projects that define one’s nation or religion, sharing none of the special attachments that define one’s family. Indeed, perhaps liberal cosmopolitans couldn’t even share a special attachment to each other, it would seem.  What kind of life is that?  A rootless life, a life lived always and everywhere “on the outside,” always and everywhere as a stranger.


I don’t mean to deny that there are cosmopolitan responses to this line of criticism.   Recall, for example, Appiah’s way of thinking about the difference between ethics and morality. Appiah thinks of identities as “ethically significant” partly because an identity provides answers tothe question “How shall I live?”  He distinguishes that question from the question for morality “What do I owe to others.”  But he clearly thinks that ethics and morality can conflict. That’s because he allows that one’s choices about how to live, under what “identity” flag to march, can generate obligations, commitments, entitlements, of their own. But so, can morality. Morality is an independent source of commitments, obligations, and entitlements, not necessarily tied to particular, local, concrete identities. Sometimes the demands of ethics arising from one’s particular, local, concrete identity simply clash with the demands of morality. But Appiah believes, I think, that the demands of morality have a certain priority — though he also thinks this priority is”defeasible,” if I understand him rightly.


译注:可废止推理(defeasible reasoning):有疏漏性推理是对推理形式的研究,它尽管令人信服,却不如演绎推理那么形式化和严格

You can sort of see, given what he thinks identities are like and where they come from, why someone like Appiah would think that morality has defeasible priority over ethics.   For Appiah, after all, there is not a fixed set of antecedently given identities.  We “create” and don’t merely inherit our identities. Now we don’t create them ex nihilo. Rather, we take what is pre-given, what is made available by the milieu in which we merely find ourselves, and we somehow make something brand new out of it, by engaging in Millian “experiments in living.”  We are always reconfiguring our identities, trying out new ways of living, sometimes, presumably, with great success and sometimes not so successfully.  This makes the ethical demands generated by our identities seem contingent and escapable.  And it makes the demands generated by morality –which, by contrast, don’t depend on the contingent localities of our identities — seem more binding, less contingent.


As long as one regards one’s identities as contingent and revisable in this way,maybe this all makes good sense. But what is the cosmopolitan supposed to say about to someone who regards some aspect or other of her identity as non-negotiable? And how does it help with the charge that the cosmopolitan is always and everywhere a rootless outsider? 


Take rootlessness first. Suppose the cosmopolitan grants that cosmopolitanism is not the source of one concrete particular identity among others. Cosmopolitanismreally articulates a kind of moral constraint to which all more particular identities are subject. The guiding principle might be whatever identity you adopt, make sure that it is consistent with having as part of one’s life plan due regard for the well-being of others. Live as an American, as a member of this or that club, or religion, or whatever, if you will, but in so living recognize that your club is merely one club among others and that the interests of your club do not trump the interests of humanity at large.


The cosmopolitan can even say that having some well-configured concrete particular identity is a good thing, one key to a well-lived human life, at least as longas it is constrained in the right way by considerations of morality and a due respect for the common humanity of all.


I like this story a lot. On some days, I’m tempted to believe something rather like it, especially as an answer to the charge that the cosmopolitan is always and everywhere a stranger. But I’m not sure it follows that concern for our common humanity defeasibly trumps or overrides any more local, particular concrete concerns.

我很喜欢这样的描述。有时,我很愿意相信一些类似的东西,尤其相信以上图景可以回应”世界主义者无论何时何地都是一个无根的局外人 “这一指控。但我不确定这是否真的意味着,虽然存在疏漏,但是我们对共同人性的关注仍然可以战胜或压倒任何相较更近更具体的关切。

Here’s why. If who I am is in some sense defined by more local and particular attachments, I don’t see off hand why those local and particular attachments don’t trump whatever concern I feel for humanity at large. After all, it is thoselocal and particular attachments that make me an insider, that define wherehome is. Too much attachment to the common humanity of all really does threaten  to make me always and everywhere the outsider.


Now I’m not prepared to fully reject the claim that morality trumps ethics. I’m just looking for more of an argument than I’ve ever seen. To rephrase my problem. I started out wondering what we can say to people who regard some aspect of their identity as “non-negotiable.” But I see now I wasn’t entirely clear about what I meant by that. I meant that: (a) those non-negotiable aspects are sources of felt commitments, demands, entitlements,etc. that place the person who adopts the relevant identity deeply at odds with cosmopolitan principles of morality and/or competing demands from the concreteand particular identities of others; (b) those aspects are regarded by the relevant person or persons as somehow bedrock definers of who and what they are.

现在我还不准备完全否定道德高于伦理的说法。我只是想找一个更充分的论据。重新阐述一下我的问题:一开始,我想知道我们能对那些把自己身份的某些方面视为不可协商的人说些什么,但我现在发现先前我并没有说清楚什么是“不可协商的”。我的意思是: (a) 身份中那些不可协商的方面是某人感受到的承诺、要求、权利等的来源,这使得他反对“世界主义的道德原则”以及与自身观念相矛盾的“来自他人具体身份的要求”;(b) 该身份的持有者认为这些方面从根本上决定了“他们是谁”和“他们是什么”。

The cosmopolitan answer to my worry is basically that there can’t legitimately be such aspects of our identity. That’s because identities that are mobilized around injustice or immorality are somehow illegitimate. But I don’t know why that is so. Some would appeal to universal commandments of cold and impersonal reason or the warm glue of human sentiment to articulate the principles of justice that constrain all more locally generated entitlements. Some philosophers — like Rawls — think that to settle the principles of justice, we have to engage in an intellectual exercise of “abstracting away”from our concrete identities and histories. That’s part of the point of hisso-called “veil of ignorance.” I’ve never found this kind of move particularly convincing. I’ve never been able to see why I, living under the actual banners that I do live under, with the actual particular attachments that I in fact have, should be bound by judgments I would make under conditions in which I did not know, in effect, who I am. Saying in detail why I find such”abstracting away” arguments uncompelling would take a much longer post, though. So, I think I’ll leave it with that simple declaration of skepticism for now.

对于我的担忧,世界主义者的回答基本上是,在我们的身份中,不可能合法地存在这样的方面。因为出于某种原因,围绕着不公正或不道德而建立起来的身份是不合法的。但我不知道为什么是这样的。有些人会诉诸于冷酷无情的理性的普遍戒律,或者人类情感的温暖联结,来阐明正义原则如何制约着所有从更近的关系中产生的权利。一些哲学家—例如罗尔斯–认为,为了解决正义原则的问题,我们必须进行一种将自我从具体身份和历史中 “抽离 “的智力活动。这就是他所谓 “无知之幕 “的部分意义。我一直不觉得这种举动特别有说服力。当我设想自己在无知之幕下会做出何种判断时,我并不知道真正生活中的我究竟是谁。因此我也从来没能理解,为什么被确切依恋的约束的我要服从于无知之幕下的判断。然而,详述为什么我认为这种 “抽离 “的论点没有说服力则需要一个更长的帖子。所以,我暂就以这个简单的怀疑宣言结束吧。

Obviously, I haven’t settled anything here and there is really a lot more to say about all this. A whole lot more. You really should read Anthony’s book, because it says a lot about these issues, and it does so quite well. I suspect that the real answer to how we cope with identities worn heavily is something close to the“Crash” solution (or non-solution). In the movie Crash, people learn to see their common humanity across the gulfs that their identities create simply by crashing into one another, by being brought up short, by experiments in living running aground. Philosophers would like to believe that something more orderly — reasoned reflection on our common humanity, judgments made behind aveil of ignorance — might do the trick. But I think many have gotten it the wrong way around. If we really did have a shared moral vision, rooted in our common perception of our common humanity, that would be a grand thing. And it would be, I think, a singular and profound cultural achievement. The belief that such a thing just might be possible is, I think, the real innovation of the Enlightenment. And the project of trying to achieve the what the Enlightenment envisioned as a real possibility is a worthy and honorable one. But as I’ve said in other posts, the Enlightenment project is just that — a project and one not yet achieved. It is a mistake to think that there is already and has always been a shared moral community that is rooted in the mutually recognized and endorsed demands of our common humanity. It isn’t a mistake, though, to think that if we keep crashing into one another, we might someday manage to constitute such a community.

很明显,我在这里还没有解决任何问题,关于所有这些话题,真的还有很多话要说。很多很多。你真的应该读读安东尼的书,因为它对这些问题说了很多,而且说得相当好。我怀疑,对如何应对我们被身份拖累这一问题的真正答案,是类似于 “撞车 “的解决方案(或者说不解决方案)。在电影《撞车》中,仅仅通过相互碰撞、日常生活的突然暂停,以及在生活搁浅时进行的各种尝试,人们就学会了跨越身份造成的鸿沟,并看到了不同的人之间共同的人性。哲学家们愿意相信,一些更有秩序的东西——对共同人性进行理性反思,在无知之幕后做出决定——也许能起到作用。但我认为很多人弄错了。如果我们真的有一个共同的道德愿景,它植根于我们对共同人性的共同认识,那将是一件伟大的事情,一个独特而深刻的文化成就。同时我认为,对于这种可能性的信念是启蒙运动的真正创新。而试图将启蒙运动所设想的可能性变为真实的项目,是值得尊敬的。但正如我在其他文章中所说,启蒙工程只是一个工程,而且是一个尚未实现的工程。如果有人认为我们已经拥有一个共同的道德共同体,且它一直都存在着,植根于共同人性所产生的彼此承认和认可的要求,那么她就错了。不过,如果设想人们通过不断地相互碰撞,能够有朝一日构成这样一个共同体,这还是有希望的。

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