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思考的工具

所属:成长励志 作者:戴维·布鲁克斯 阅读:3424 次 评论:0 条 [我要评论]  [+我要收藏]

小编摘要:人人都希望成为解决棘手问题的高手,但究竟何种科学观能够提高我们的认知能力?

思考的工具

 

 

数月前,哈佛大学的史蒂芬·平克奇思突发:究竟何种科学观能够提高人的认知能力?
A few months ago, Steven Pinker of Harvard asked a smart question: What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?
最近Edge.org的好事者举办了一次座谈会,邀请164位思想家对此出谋划策。哥伦比亚大学的语言学家约翰·麦克沃特尔认为,人们应该会更加关注路径依赖(path dependence)。其观点是,“那些如今被人们认作理所当然的东西往往源自于过去某一特定时刻所作的合理选择,尽管这种选择缺乏正当的理由,但最终还是被传承了下去。”
The good folks at Edge.org organized a symposium, and 164 thinkers contributed suggestions. John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University, wrote that people should be more aware of path dependence. This refers to the notion that often “something that seems normal or inevitable today began with a choice that made sense at a particular time in the past, but survived despite the eclipse of the justification for that choice.”
例如,早先的打字机如果输入速度太快就会卡壳,于是厂家便开发出键盘,但打字员的速度确因此而变慢。如今,尽管我们已经永远告别了打字机,但对标准英文键盘已经习以为常。
For instance, typewriters used to jam if people typed too fast, so the manufacturers designed a keyboard that would slow typists. We no longer have typewriters, but we are stuck with the letter arrangements of the qwerty keyboard.
麦克·沃特尔还说,许多语言模式和心理范畴都可以用路径依赖去加以解释。不少人疑虑重重,觉得发电子邮件会降低写作能力。但再怎么样,电邮方式也无法阻挡人们借用19世纪文人书信写作的风格。语言发展到20世纪60年代已经变得不再那么程式化了,假如现在还有谁留恋那些老套套就会被视作不合群异类。
Path dependence explains many linguistic patterns and mental categories, McWhorter continues. Many people worry about the way e-mail seems to degrade writing skills. But there is nothing about e-mail that forbids people from using the literary style of 19th-century letter writers. In the 1960s, language became less formal, and now anybody who uses the old manner is regarded as an eccentric.
《网络妄想症》的作者叶夫根·莫罗佐夫推荐的则是“定势效应”(the Net Delusion),即我们在解决问题时,总是喜欢借鉴以往行之有效的方法,而不敢就事论事独辟蹊径。这种思维惯性在处理外交事务时尤其突出,每一次新的冲突都被放在这种有色棱镜之下接受审视,无论是越南战争、慕尼黑阴谋、冷战或者伊拉克战争。
Evgeny Morozov, the author of “The Net Delusion,” nominated the Einstellung Effect, the idea that we often try to solve problems by using solutions that worked in the past instead of looking at each situation on its own terms. This effect is especially powerful in foreign affairs, where each new conflict is viewed through the prism of Vietnam or Munich or the cold war or Iraq.
普林斯顿大学的丹尼尔·卡尼曼提到观念与“聚焦幻觉”(Focusing Illusion)有关。该观点认为“生活中没有什么是非同小可的,除非你认为它特别重要。”他还说,“教育是决定收入多寡的一个重要的因素,也是最重要的因素之一,不过其重要程度并没有多数人所想象的那么高。假如人人接受的教育是相同的,收入不均衡的差异只会减少不到百分之十。当你过分专注于教育时,就有无数其他的决定性因素被你置于脑后。有些人受教育相同,但收入差别却有天壤之别。”
Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University writes about the Focusing Illusion, which holds that “nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.” He continues: “Education is an important determinant of income — one of the most important — but it is less important than most people think. If everyone had the same education, the inequality of income would be reduced by less than 10 percent. When you focus on education you neglect the myriad of other factors that determine income. The differences of income among people who have the same education are huge.”
哈佛大学的哲学家兼神经科学家乔舒亚·格林选了一个靓丽的词条:随附性(supervenience)。设想有这样一幅画:电脑屏幕上一条小狗坐在划艇上。这幅画的主题可以被认为是关于狗的,但是,换一个层面也可以看做是像素和色彩的排列。这两个层面之间的关系完全不对称。相同的图像能以不同的形状和不同的像素去显示。高级别的属性(狗)是附着在低级别的属性(像素)之上的。
Joshua Greene, a philosopher and neuroscientist at Harvard University, has a brilliant entry on Supervenience. Imagine a picture on a computer screen of a dog sitting in a rowboat. It can be described as a picture of a dog, but at a different level it can be described as an arrangement of pixels and colors. The relationship between the two levels is asymmetric. The same image can be displayed at different sizes with different pixels. The high-level properties (dogness) supervene the low-level properties (pixels).
格林先生补充道,随附性有助于用来解释诸如自然科学与人文科学之间的关系问题。人文学家忧心忡忡,科学家正在蚕食他们的领地,因为后者试图用科学诠释一切。然而,科学对大脑机制的新发现却无法解释莎士比亚笔下的人物??麦克白。心灵产品是依附于大脑机制的,即使寄生于后者,人文科学仍然可以通过认知科学被了解。
Supervenience, Greene continues, helps explain things like the relationship between science and the humanities. Humanists fear that scientists are taking over their territory and trying to explain everything. But new discoveries about the brain don’t explain Macbeth. The products of the mind supervene the mechanisms of the brain. The humanities can be informed by the cognitive sciences even as they supervene them.
如果容我冒昧再提一个词条,那就是“基本归错法”( Fundamental Attribution Error):不要试图借助性格特征去解释行为,最好是根据前因后果去加以阐释。
If I were presumptuous enough to nominate a few entries, I’d suggest the Fundamental Attribution Error: Don’t try to explain by character traits behavior that is better explained by context.
此外,我还得提一下情感丰富与无法自控之间的差异。一般的推测是,性情中人总是动动辄暴跳如雷,但实际情况并非如此。我们也会说,美国19世纪的著名诗人艾米莉·狄金森多愁善感。但据我所知,她并没有一天到晚四处声嘶力竭。能够分清艾米莉·狄金森的情感起伏与脱口秀高手一时冲动之间的界限将是有用的。
I’d also nominate the distinction between emotion and arousal. There’s a general assumption that emotional people are always flying off the handle. That’s not true. We would also say that Emily Dickinson was emotionally astute. As far as I know, she did not go around screaming all the time. It would be useful if we could distinguish between the emotionality of Dickinson and the arousal of the talk-show jock.
如果人们跟多地动态的眼光(the concept of emergence)去观察问题,公共生活将因此而大为改善。此观点得到众多研讨会参加者的认同。
Public life would be vastly improved if people relied more on the concept of emergence. Many contributors to the Edge symposium hit on this point.
通常我们都试图通过肢解并研究其组成部的方式去琢磨问题,然而动态问题(emergent problems)是无法用这种方式去认识的。在动态体系(emergent systems)中,各种不同因素犬牙交错,而由这种纠结状态所产生的新东西往往会大于各部分的总和,反过来又会对构成要素施加自上而下的影响。
We often try to understand problems by taking apart and studying their constituent parts. But emergent problems can’t be understood this way. Emergent systems are ones in which many different elements interact. The pattern of interaction then produces a new element that is greater than the sum of the parts, which then exercises a top-down influence on the constituent elements.
文化就是一个动态体系,它是由一群人建立的某种互动模式。一旦此种文化形成之后,它就会影响身处其中每个人的行为举止。经济是动态体系,政治多极化、日益增长的医疗保健成本以及不幸的婚姻亦属此类。
Culture is an emergent system. A group of people establishes a pattern of interaction. And once that culture exists, it influences how the individuals in it behave. An economy is an emergent system. So is political polarization, rising health care costs and a bad marriage.
动态体系中的互动是自下而上与自上而下同时展开的,因此对它们必须有区别地加以研究,可以从整体和纵横交错的网络关系层面去把握。针对如何解决贫穷和伊斯兰极端主义问题,人们仍然抱着对个别原因进行梳理的传统方法不撒手。如果我们能转换思路,也许会取得更大进展。
Emergent systems are bottom-up and top-down simultaneously. They have to be studied differently, as wholes and as nested networks of relationships. We still try to address problems like poverty and Islamic extremism by trying to tease out individual causes. We might make more headway if we thought emergently.
如果每个人都能从本次研讨会得到些许启发,我们的生活一定会更加自在。此次大讨论低调而有胆识,完全可以与一届科学盛会相媲美。
We’d certainly be better off if everyone sampled the fabulous Edge symposium, which, like the best in science, is modest and daring all at once.?
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2011-04-14 14:29 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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