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高级英语直接听读182A:Social Cohesion and Human Nature(罗素讲座,敬请转发)

2020-07-21  昵称70926...

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本篇选自BBC Reith Lectures,是1948年讲座开篇邀请到的英国哲学家、数学家伯特兰·罗素(Bertrand Russell)就“权威与个体”所做的演讲的第一讲下篇。全篇长近半小时,为方便朋友利用零星时间收听,我把这篇分成上下两部分,这样文章也不会显得太长。每周放出上下两篇,这样就是完整的一场讲座,一周能够把这场讲座听好、听透,高级英语学习就有了基本保障。

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REITH LECTURES 1948: Authority and the Individual

Bertrand Russell

Lecture 1: Social Cohesion and Human Nature

TRANSMISSION: 24 December 1948 -Home Service

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Changing Division of Friends’ and Foes

Modern loyalty to the vast groups of our time, in so far as it is strong and subjectively satisfying, makes use still of the old psychological mechanism evolved in the days of small tribes. Congenital human nature, as opposed to what is made of it by schools and religions, by propaganda and economic organisations, has not changed much since the time when men first began to have brains of the size to which we are accustomed. Instinctively we divide mankind into friends and foes ‘-friends towards whom we have the morality of co-operation; foes towards whom we have that of competition. But this division is constantly changing; at one moment a man hates his business competitor, at another, when b6th are threatened by socialism or by an external enemy, he suddenly begins to view him as a brother. Always when we pass beyond the limits of the family it is the external enemy which supplies the cohesive force. In times of safety we can afford to hate our neighbour, but in times of danger ?we must love him. We do not, at most times, love those whom we find sitting next to us in an omnibus, but during the blitz we did.

It is this that makes the difficulty of devising means of world-wide unity. A world state, if it were firmly established, would have no enemies to fear and would therefore be in danger of breaking down through lack of cohesive force. Two great religions -Buddhism and Christianity -have sought to extend the co-operative feeling that is spontaneous towards fellow tribesmen to the whole human race. They have preached the brotherhood of man, showing by the use of the word ‘brotherhood’ that they are attempting to extend beyond its natural bounds an emotional attitude which, in its origin, is biological. If we are all children of God, then we are all one family. But in practice those who in theory adopted this creed have always felt that those who did not adopt it were not children of God but children of Satan, and the old mechanism of hatred of those outside the tribe has returned, giving added vigour to the creed, but in a direction which diverted it from its original 1 p . Religion, morality, economic self-interest, the mere pursuit of biological survival, all supply to our intelligence unanswerable arguments in favour of world-wide co-operation, but the old instincts that have come down. to us from our tribal ancestors rise up in indignation, feeling that life would lose its savour if there were no one to hate, and that anyone who could love such a scoundrel as so-and-so would be a worm, that struggle is the law of life, and that in a world where we all loved one another there would be nothing to live for. If the unification of mankind is ever to be realised, it will be necessary to find ways of circumventing our largely unconscious primitive ferocity, partly by establishing a reign of law, and partly by finding innocent outlets for our competitive instincts.

This is not an easy problem, and it is one which cannot be solved by morality alone. Psycho-analysis, though no doubt it has its exaggerations, and even perhaps absurdities, has taught us a great deal that is true and valuable. It is an old saying that, even if you expel nature with a pitchfork, it will still come back. But psycho-analysis has supplied the commentary to this text. We now know that a life which goes against natural impulse beyond a point is one which is likely to involve effects of strain that may be quite as bad as indulgence in forbidden impulses would have been. People who live a life which is unnatural beyond a point are likely to be filled with envy, malice and all uncharitableness. They may develop strains of cruelty, or, on the other hand, they may so completely lose all joy of life that they have no longer any capacity for effort.

‘Victims of Virtue’

This latter result has been observed among savages brought suddenly in contact with modern civilisation. Anthropologists have described how Papuan head-hunters, deprived by white authority of their habitual sport, lose all zest, and are no longer able to be interested in anything. I do not wish to infer that they should have been allowed to go on hunting heads, but I do mean that it would have been worthwhile if psychologists had taken some trouble to find some innocent substitute activity. Civilised man everywhere is, to some degree, in the position of the Papuan victims of virtue. We have all kinds of shocking impulses and also creative impulses which society forbids us to indulge, and the alternatives that it supplies in the shape of football matches and all-in wrestling are hardly 2 a . Anyone who hopes that in time it may be possible to abolish war should give serious thought to the problem of satisfying harmlessly the instincts that we inherit from long generations of savages. For my part I find a sufficient outlet in detective stories where I alternatively identify myself with the murderer and the huntsman-detective, but I know there are those to whom this vicarious outlet is too mild, and for them something stronger should be provided.

I do not think that ordinary human beings can be happy without competition, for competition has been, ever since the origin of man, the spur to most serious activities. We should not, therefore, attempt to abolish competition, but only to see to it that it takes forms which are not too injurious. Primitive competition was a conflict as to which should murder the other man and his wife and children; modem competition in the shape of war still takes this form. But in sport, in literary and artistic rivalry, and in constitutional politics it takes forms which do very little harm and yet offer a fairly adequate outlet for our combative instincts. What is wrong in this respect is not that such forms of competition are bad, but that they form too small a part of the lives of ordinary men and women.

Apart from war, modern civilisation has aimed increasingly at security, but I am not at all sure that the elimination of all danger makes for happiness. I should like at this point to quote a passage from Sir Arthur Keith’s New Theory of Human Evolution:

Those who have visited the peoples living under a reign of ‘wild justice’ bring back accounts of happiness among natives living under -such conditions. Freya Stark, for example, reported thus of South Arabia: ‘When I came to travel in that part of the country where security is non-existent, I found a people, though full of lament over their life of perpetual blackmail and robbery, yet just as cheerful and as full of the ordinary joy of living as anywhere on earth’. Dr. H. K Fry had a similar experience among the aborigines of Australia. ‘A native in his wild state’, he reports, ‘lives in constant danger; hostile spirits are about him constantly. Yet he is light?-hearted and cheerful ... indulgent to his children and kind to his aged parents’. My third illustration is taken from the Crow Indians of America, who have been living under the eye of Dr. R. Lowie for many years. They are now living in the security of a reserve. ‘Ask a Crow’, reports Dr. Lowie, ‘whether he would have security as now, or danger as of old, and his answer is -“danger as of old ... there was glory in it”’. I am assuming that the wild conditions of life I have been describing were those amid which mankind lived through the whole of the primal period of its evolution. it was amid such conditions that man’s nature and character was fashioned, one of the conditions being the practice of blood-revenge.

Such effects of human psychology account for some things which, for me at least, were surprising when in 1914 I first became aware of them. Many people are happier during a war than they are in peace time, provided the direct suffering entailed by the fighting does not fall too heavily upon them personally. A quiet life may well be a boring life. The unadventurous existence of a well-behaved citizen, 3 e in earning a moderate living in a humble capacity, leaves completely unsatisfied all that part of his nature which, if he had lived 400,000 years ago, would have found ample scope in the search for food, in cutting off the heads of enemies, and in escaping the attentions of tigers. When war comes the bank clerk may escape and become a commando, and then at last he feels that he is living as nature intended him to live. But, unfortunately, science has put into our hands such enormously powerful means of satisfying our destructive instincts, that to allow them free play no longer serves any evolutionary purpose, as it did while men were divided into petty tribes. The problem of making peace with our anarchic impulses is one which has been too little studied, but one which becomes more and more imperative as scientific technique advances. From the purely biological point of view it is unfortunate that the destructive side of technique has advanced so very much more rapidly than the creative side. In one moment a man may kill 500,000 people, but he cannot have children any quicker than in the days of our savage ancestors. If a man could have 500,000 children as quickly as by an atomic bomb he can destroy 500,000 enemies we might, at the cost of enormous suffering, leave the biological problem to the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. But in the modem world the old mechanism of evolution can no longer be relied upon.

Security Plus Adventure?

The problem of the social reformer, therefore, is not merely to seek means of ‘security, for if these means when found provide no deep satisfaction the security will be thrown away for the glory of adventure. The problem is rather to combine that degree of security which is essential to the species, with forms of adventure and danger and contest which are compatible with the civilised way of life. And in attempting to solve this problem we must remember always that, although our manner of life and our institutions and our knowledge have undergone 4 p changes, our instincts both for good and evil remain very much what they were when our ancestors’ brains first grew to their present size. I do not think the reconciliation of primitive impulses with the civilised way of life is impossible, but I do not think it can be achieved by exclusive emphasis upon either side. A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a life in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it will is sure to be short.

I think perhaps the essence of the matter was given by the Red Indian whom I quoted a moment ago, who regretted the old life because ‘there was glory in it’. Every energetic person wants something that can count as ‘glory ‘. There are those who get it-film stars, famous athletes, military commanders, and even some few politicians-but they are a small minority, and the rest are left to day-dreams: day-dreams of the cinema, day-dreams of wild west adventure stories, purely private day-dreams of imaginary power. I am not one of those who think daydreams wholly evil; they are an essential part of the life of imagination. But when throughout a long life there is no means of relating them to reality they easily become unwholesome and even dangerous to sanity. Perhaps it may still be possible, even in our mechanical world, to find some real 5 o for the impulses which are now confined to the realm of phantasy. In the interests of stability it is much to be hoped that this may be possible, for, if it is not, destructive philosophies will from time to time sweep away the best of human achievements. If this is to be prevented, the savage in each one of us must find some outlet not incompatible with civilised life and the happiness of his equally savage neighbour.

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