m.2138.c0m_太阳集团娱乐网址坛论

太阳集团娱乐网址坛论

大学英语 学英语,练听力,上听力课堂! 注册 登录
> 大学英语 > 大学英语学习 >  内容

英汉双语《西南联大英文课》42:通识学院的理论_亚历山大·米克尔约翰

所属教程:大学英语学习

浏览:

qinting

2018年07月06日

随身学
扫描二维码方便学习和分享

42 THE THEORY OF THE LIBERAL COLLEGE

By Alexander Meiklejohn

THE THEORY OF THE LIBERAL COLLEGE, by Alexander Meiklejohn, from his Freedom and the College, New York, The Century Company, 1923, pp. 155-189.

Alexander Meiklejohn (1872-1964), American educator and teacher of philosophy.

This was his inaugural address as president of Amherst College, Massachusetts, October 16, 1912.

英汉双语《西南联大英文课》42:通识学院的理论_亚历山大·米克尔约翰

In the discussions concerning college education there is one voice which is all too seldom raised and all too often disregarded. It is the voice of the teacher and scholar, of the member of the college faculty. It is my purpose here to consider the ideals of the teacher, of the problems of instruction as they present themselves to the men who are giving instruction. And I do this not because I believe that just now the teachers are wiser than others who are dealing with the same questions, but rather as an expression of a definite conviction with regard to the place of the teacher in our educational scheme. It is, I believe, the function of the teacher to stand before his pupils and before the community at large as the intellectual leader of his time. If he is not able to take this leadership, he is not worthy of his calling. If the leadership is taken from him and given to others, then the very foundations of the scheme of instruction are shaken. He who in matters of teaching must be led by others is not the one to lead the imitative undergraduate, not the one to inspire the confidence and loyalty and discipleship on which all true teaching depends. If there are others who can do these things better than the college teacher of to-day, then we must bring them within the college walls. But if the teacher is to be deemed worthy of his task, then he must be recognized as the teacher of us all, and we must listen to his words as he speaks of the matters intrusted to his charge.

In the consideration of the educational creed of the teacher I will try to give, first, a brief statement of his belief;second, a defense of it against other views of the function of the college; third, an interpretation of its meaning and significance; fourth, a criticism of what seem to me misunderstandings of their own meaning prevalent among the teachers of our day; and finally, a suggestion of certain changes in policy which must follow if the belief of the teacher is clearly understood and applied in our educational procedure.

I.

First, then, What do our teachers believe to be the aim of college instruction? Wherever their opinions and convictions find expression there is one contention which is always in the foreground, namely, that to be liberal a college must be essentially intellectual. It is a place, the teachers tell us, in which a boy, forgetting all things else, may set forth on the enterprise of learning. It is a time when a young man may come to awareness of the thinking of his people, may perceive what knowledge is and has been and is to be. Whatever light-hearted undergraduates may say, whatever the opinions of solicitous parents, of ambitious friends, of employers in search of workmen, of leaders in church or state or business—whatever may be the beliefs and desire and demands of outsiders—the teacher within the college, knowing his mission as no one else can know it, proclaims that mission to be the leading of his pupil into the life intellectual. The college is primarily not a place of the body, nor of the feeling, nor even of the will; it is, first of all, a place of the mind.

II.

Against this intellectual interpretation of the college our teachers find two sets of hostile forces constantly at work. Outside the walls there are the practical demands of a busy commercial and social scheme; within the college there are the trivial and sentimental and irrational misunderstandings of its own friends. Upon each of these our college teachers are wont to descend as Samson upon the Philistines, and when they have had their will, there is little left for another to accomplish.

As against the immediate practical demands from without, the issue is clear and decisive. College teachers know that the world must have trained workmen, skilled operatives, clever buyers and sellers, efficient directors, resourceful manufacturers, able lawyers, ministers, physicians, and teachers. But it is equally true that in order to do its own work, the liberal college must leave the special and technical training for these trades and professions to be done in other schools and by other methods. In a word, the liberal college does not pretend to give all the kinds of teaching which a young man of college age may profitably receive; it does not even claim to give all the kinds of intellectual training which are worth giving. It is committed to intellectual training of the liberal type, whatever that may mean, and to that mission it must be faithful. One may safely say, then, on behalf of our college teachers, that their instruction is intended to be radically different from that given in the technical school or even in the professional school. Both these institutions are practical in a sense which the college, as an intellectual institution, is not. In the technical school, the pupil is taught how to do some one of the mechanical operations which contribute to human welfare. He is trained to point, to weave, to farm, to build; and for the most part he is trained to do these things by practice rather than by theory. His possession when he leaves the school is not a stock of ideas, of scientific principles, but a measure of skill, a collection of rules of thumb. His primary function as a tradesman is not to understand but to do, and in doing what is needed he is following directions which have first been thought out by others and are now practiced by him. The technical school intends to furnish training which, in the sense in which we use the term, is not intellectual but practical.

In a corresponding way the work of the professional school differs from that of the liberal college. In the teaching of engineering, medicine or law, we are or may be beyond the realm of mere skill and within the realm of ideas and principles. But the selection and the relating of these ideas is dominated by an immediate practical interest which cuts them off from the intellectual point of view of the scholar. If an undergraduate should take away from his studies of chemistry, biology, and psychology only those parts which have immediate practical application in the field of medicine, the college teachers would feel that they had failed to give the boy the kind of instruction demanded of a college. It is not their purpose to furnish applied knowledge in this sense. They are not willing to cut up their sciences into segments and to allow the students to select those segments which may be of service in the practice of an art or a profession. In one way or another the teacher feels a kinship with the scientist and the scholar which forbids him to submit to this domination of his instruction by the demands of an immediate practical interest. Whatever it may mean, he intends to hold the intellectual point of view and to keep his students with him if he can. In response, then, to demands for technical and professional training our college teachers tell us that such training may be obtained in other schools; it is not to be had in a college of liberal culture.

In the conflict with the forces within the college our teachers find themselves fighting essentially the same battle as against the foes without. In a hundred different ways the friends of the college, students, graduates, trustees, and even colleagues, seem to them so to misunderstand its mission as to minimize or to falsify its intellectual ideals. The college is a good place for making friends; it gives excellent experience in getting on with men; it has exceptional advantages as an athletic club; is a relatively safe place for a boy when he first leaves home; on a whole it may improve a student's manners;it gives acquaintance with lofty ideals of character, preaches the doctrine of social service, exalts the virtues and duties of citizenship. All these conceptions seem to the teacher to hide or to obscure the fact that the college is fundamentally a place of the mind, a time for thinking, an opportunity for knowing. And perhaps in proportion to their own loftiness of purpose and motive they are the more dangerous as tending all the more powerfully to replace or to nullify the underlying principle upon which they all depend. Here again when misconception clears away, one can have no doubt that the battle of the teacher is a righteous one. It is well that a boy should have four good years of athletic sport, playing his own games and watching the games of his fellows; it is well that his manners should be improved; it is worth while to make good friends; it is very desirable to develop the power of understanding and working with other men; it is surely good to grow in strength and purity of character, in devotion to the interests of society, in readiness to meet obligations and opportunities of citizenship. If any one of these be lacking from the fruits of a college course we may well complain of the harvest. And yet is it not true that by sheer pressure of these, by the driving and pulling of the social forces within and without the college, the mind of the student is constantly torn from its chief concern? Do not our social and practical interests distract our boys from the intellectual achievement which should dominate their imagination and command their zeal? I believe that one may take it as the deliberate judgment of the teachers of our colleges to-day that the function of the college is constantly misunderstood, and that it is subjected to demands which, however friendly in intent, are yet destructive of its intellectual efficiency and success.

III.

But now that the contention of the teacher has been stated and reaffirmed against objections, it is time to ask, What does it mean? And how can it be justified? By what right does a company of scholars invite young men to spend with them four years of discipleship? Do they, in their insistence upon the intellectual quality of their ideal intend to give an education which is avowedly unpractical? If so, how shall they justify their invitation, which may perhaps divert young men from other interests and other companionships which are valuable to themselves and to their fellows? In a word, what is the underlying motive of the teacher, what is there in the intellectual interests and activities which seems to him to warrant their domination over the training and instruction of young men during the college years?

It is no fair answer to this question to summon us to faith in intellectual ideals, to demand of us that we live the life of the mind with confidence in the virtues of intelligence, that we love knowledge and because of our passion follow after it. Most of us are already eager to accept intellectual ideals but our very devotion to them forbids that we accept them blindly. I have often been struck by the inner contradictoriness of the demand that we have faith in intelligence. It seems to mean, as it is so commonly made to mean, that we must unintelligently follow intelligence, that we must ignorantly pursue knowledge, that we must question everything except the use of thinking itself. As Mr. F. H. Bradley would say, the dictum, “Have faith in intelligence,” is so true that it constantly threatens to become false. Our very conviction of its truth compels us to scrutinize and test it to the end.

How then shall we justify the faith of the teacher? What reason can we give for our exaltation of intellectual training and activity? To this question two answers are possible. First, knowledge and thinking are good in themselves. Secondly, they help us in the attainment of other values in life which without them would be impossible. Both these answers may be given and are given by college teachers. Within them must be found whatever can be said by way of explanation and justification of the work of the liberal college.

The first answer receives just now far less of recognition than it can rightly claim. When the man of the world is told that a boy is to be trained in thinking just because of the joys and satisfactions of thinking itself, just in order that he may go on thinking as long as he lives, the man of the world has been heard to scoff and to ridicule the idle dreaming of scholarly men. But if thinking is not a good thing in itself, if intellectual activity is not worth while for its own sake, will the man of the world tell us what is? There are those among us who find so much satisfaction in the countless trivial and vulgar amusements of crude people that they have no time for the joys of the mind. There are those who are so closely shut up within a little round of petty pleasures that they have never dreamed of the fun of reading and conversing and investigating and reflecting. And of these one can only say that the difference is one of taste, and that their tastes seem to be relatively dull and stupid. Surely it is one function of the liberal college to save boys from that stupidity, to give them an appetite for the pleasures of thinking, to made them sensitive to the joys of appreciation and understanding, to show them how sweet and captivating and wholesome are the games of the mind. At the time when the play element is still dominant it is worth while to acquaint boys with the sport of facing and solving problems. Apart from some of the experiences of friendship and sympathy I doubt if there are any human interests so permanently satisfying, so fine and splendid in themselves as are those of intellectual activity. To give our boys that zest, that delight in things intellectual, to give them an appreciation of a kind of life which is well worth living, to make them men of intellectual culture—that certainly is one part of the work of any liberal college.

On the other hand, the creation of culture as so defined can never constitute the full achievement of the college. It is essential to awaken the impulses of inquiry, of experiment, of investigation, of reflection, the instinctive cravings of the mind. But no liberal college can be content with this. The impulse to thinking must be questioned and rationalized as must every other instinctive response. It is well to think, but what shall we think about? Are there any lines of investigation and reflection more valuable than others, and if so, how is their value to be tested? Or again, if the impulse for thinking comes into conflict with other desires and cravings, how is the opposition to be solved? It has sometimes been suggested that our man of intellectual culture may be found like Nero fiddling with words while all the world about him is aflame. And the point of the suggestion is not that fiddling is a bad and worthless pastime, but rather that it is inopportune on such an occasion, that the man who does it is out of touch with his situation, that his fiddling does not fit his facts. In a word, men know with regard to thinking, as with regard to every other content of human experience, that it cannot be valued merely in terms of itself. It must be measured in terms of its relation to other contents and to human experience as a whole. Thinking is good in itself—but what does it cost of other things, what does it bring of other values? Place it amid all the varied contents of our individual and social experience, measure it in terms of what it implies, fix it by means of its relations, and then you will know its worth not simply in itself but in that deeper sense which comes when human desires are rationalized and human lives are known in their entirety, as well as they can be known by those who are engaged in living them.

In this consideration we find the second answer of the teacher to the demand for justification of the work of the college. Knowledge is good, he tells us, not only in itself, but in its enrichment and enhancement of the other values of our experience. In the deepest and fullest sense of the words, knowledge pays. This statement rests upon the classification of human actions into two groups, those of the instinctive type and those of the intellectual type. By far the greater part of our human acts are carried on without any clear idea of what we are going to do or how are we going to do it. For the most part our responses to our situations are the immediate responses of feeling, of perception, of custom, of tradition. But slowly and painfully, as the mind has developed, action after action has been translated from the feeling to the ideational type; in wider and wider fields men have become aware of their own modes of action, more and more they have come to understanding, to knowledge of themselves and of their needs. And the principle underlying all our educational procedure is that, on the whole, actions become more successful as they pass from the sphere of feeling to that of understanding. Our educational belief is that in the long run if men know what they are going to do and how they are going to do it, and what is the nature of the situation with which they are dealing, their response to that situation will be better adjusted and more beneficial than are the responses of the feeling type in like situations.

It is all too obvious that there are limits to the validity of this principle. If men are to investigate, to consider, to decide, then action must be delayed and we must pay the penalty of waiting. If men are to endeavor to understand and know their situation, then we must be prepared to see them make mistakes in their thinking, lose their certainty of touch, wander off into pitfalls and illusions and fallacies of thought, and in consequence secure for the time results far lower in value than those of the instinctive response which they seek to replace. The delays and mistakes and uncertainties of our thinking are a heavy price to pay, but it is the conviction of the teacher that the price is as nothing when compared with the goods which it buys. You may point out to him the loss when old methods of procedure give way before the criticism of understanding, you may remind him of the pain and suffering when old habits of thought and action are replaced, you may reprove him for all the blunders of the past; but in spite of it all he knows and you know that in human lives taken separately and in human life as a whole men's greatest lack is the lack of understanding, their greatest hope to know themselves and the world in which they live.

Within the limits of this general educational principle the place of the liberal college may easily be fixed. In the technical school pupils are prepared for a specific work and are kept for the most part on the plane of perceptual action, doing work which others understand. In the professional school, students are properly within the realm of ideas and principles, but they are still limited to a specific human interest with which alone their understanding is concerned. But the college is called liberal as against both of these because the instruction is dominated by no special interest, is limited to no single human task, but is intended to take human activity as a whole, to understand human endeavors not in their isolation but in their relations to one another and to the total experience which we call the life of our people. And just as we believe that the building of ships has become more successful as men have come to a knowledge of the principles involved in their construction; just as the practice of medicine has become more successful as we come to a knowledge of the human body, of the conditions within it and the influences without; just so the teacher in the liberal college believes that life as a total enterprise, life as it presents itself to each one of us in his career as an individual—human living—will be more successful in so far as men come to understand it and to know it as they attempt to carry it on. To give boys an intellectual grasp on human experience—this it seems to me is the teacher's conception of the chief function of the liberal college.

May I call attention to the fact that this second answer of the teacher defines the aims of the college as avowedly and frankly practical. Knowledge is to be sought chiefly for the sake of its contribution to the other activities of human living. But on the other hand, it is as definitely declared that in method the college is fully and unreservedly intellectual. If we can see that these two demands are not in conflict but that they stand together in the harmonious relation of means and end, of instrument and achievement, of method and result, we may escape many a needless conflict and keep our educational policy in singleness of aim and action. To do this we must show that the college is intellectual, not as opposed to practical interests and purposes, but as opposed to unpractical and unwise methods of work. The issue is not between practical and intellectual aims but between the immediate and the remote aim, between the hasty and the measured procedure, between the demand for results at once and the willingness to wait for the best results. The intellectual road to success is longer and more roundabout than any other, but they who are strong and willing for the climbing are brought to higher levels of achievement than they could possibly have attained had they gone straightforward in the pathway of quick returns. If this were not true the liberal college would have no proper place in our life at all. In so far as it is true the college has a right to claim the best of our young men to give them its preparation for the living they are to do.

IV.

But now that we have attempted to interpret the intellectual mission of the college, it may be fair to ask: “Are the teachers and scholars of our day always faithful to that mission? Do their statements and their practice always ring in accord with the principle which has been stated?” It seems to me that at two points they are constantly off the key, constantly at variance with the reasons by which alone their teaching can be justified.

In the first place, it often appears as if our teachers and scholars were deliberately in league to mystify and befog the popular mind regarding this practical value of intellectual work. They seem not to wish too much said about the results and benefits. Their desire is to keep aloft the intellectual banner, to proclaim the inteilectual gospel, to demand of student and public alike adherence to the faith. And in general when they are questioned as to results they give little satisfaction except to those who are already pledged to unwavering confidence in their ipse dixit. And largely as a result of this attitude the American people seem to me to have little understanding of the intellectual work of the college. Our citizens and patrons can see the value of games and physical exercises; they readily perceive the importance of the social give and take of a college democracy; they can appreciate the value of studies which prepare a young man for his profession and so anticipate or replace the professional school; they can even believe that if a boy is kept at some sort of thinking for four years his mind may become more acute, more systematic, more accurate, and hence more useful than it was before. But as for the content of a college course, as for the value of knowledge, what a boy gains by knowing Greek or economics, philosophy or literature, history or biology, except as they are regarded as having professional usefulness, I think our friends are in the dark and are likely to remain so until we turn on the light. When our teachers say, as they sometimes do say, that the effect of knowledge upon the character and life of the student must always be for the college an accident, a circumstance which has no essential connection with its real aim or function, then it seems to me that our educational policy is wholly out of joint. If there be no essential connection between instruction and life, then there is no reason for giving instruction except in so far as it is pleasant in itself, and we have no educational policy at all. As against this hesitancy, this absence of a conviction, we men of the college should declare in clear and unmistakable terms our creed—the creed that knowledge is justified by its results. We should say to our people so plainly that they cannot misunderstand: “Give us your boys, give us the means we need, and we will so train and inform the minds of those boys that their own lives and the lives of the men about them shall be more successful than they could be without our training. Give us our chance and we will show your boys what human living is, for we are convinced that they can live better in knowledge than they can in ignorance.”

There is a second wandering from the faith which is so common among investigators that it may fairly be called the “fallacy of the scholar.” It is the belief that all knowledge is so good that all parts of knowledge are equally good. Ask many of our scholars and teachers what subjects a boy should study in order that he may gain insight for human living, and they will say, “It makes no difference in .what department of knowledge he studies; let him go into Sanskrit or bacteriology, into mathematics or history; if only he goes where men are actually dealing with intellectual problems, and if only he learns how to deal with problems himself, the aim of education is achieved, he has entered into intellectual activity.” This point of view, running through all the varieties of the elective system, seems to me hopelessly at variance with any sound educational doctrine. It represents the scholar of the day at his worst both as a thinker and as a teacher. In so far as it dominates a group of college teachers it seems to me to render them unfit to determine and to administer a college curriculum. It is an announcement that they have no guiding principles in their educational practice, no principles of selection in their arrangement of studies, no genuine grasp of the relationship between knowledge and life. It is the concerted statement of a group of men each of whom is lost within the limits of his own special studies, and who as a group seem not to realize the organic relationships between them nor the common task which should bind them together.

In bringing this second criticism against our scholars I am not urging that the principle of election of college studies should be entirely discontinued. But I should like to inquire by what right and within what limits it is justified. The most familiar argument in its favor is that if a student is allowed to choose along the lines of his own intellect or professional interest he will have enthusiasm, the eagerness which comes with the following of one's own bent. Now, just so far as this result is achieved, just so far as the quality of scholarship is improved, the procedure is good and we may follow it if we do not thereby lose other results more valuable than our gain. But if the special interest comes into conflict with more fundamental ones, if what the student prefers is opposed to what he ought to prefer, then we of the college cannot leave the choice with him. We must say to him frankly: “If you do not care for liberal training you had better go elsewhere; we have a special and definite task assigned us which demands that we keep free from the domination of special or professional pursuits. So long as we are faithful to that task we cannot give you what you ask.”

In my opinion, however, the fundamental motive of the elective system is not the one which has been mentioned. In the last resort our teachers allow students to choose their own studies not in order to appeal to intellectual or to professional interest, but because they themselves have no choice of their own in which they believe with sufficient intensity to impose it upon their pupils. And this lack of a dominating educational policy is in turn an expression of an intellectual attitude, a point of view, which marks the scholars of our time. In a word, it seems to me that our willingness to allow students to wander about in the college curriculum is one of the most characteristic expressions of a certain intellectual agnosticism, a kind of intellectual bankruptcy, into which, in spite of all our wealth of information, the spirit of the time has fallen. Let me explain my meaning.

The old classical curriculum was founded by men who had a theory of the world and of human life. They had taken all the available content of human knowledge and had wrought it together into a coherent whole. What they knew was, as judged by our standards, very little in amount. But upon that little content they had expended all the infinite pains of understanding and interpretation. They had taken the separate judgments of science, philosophy, history, and the arts, and had so welded them together, so established their relationships with one another, so freed them from contradictions and ambiguities that, so far as might be in their day and generation, human life as a whole and the world about us were known, were understood, were rationalized. They had a knowledge of human experience by which they could live and which they could teach to others engaged in the activities of living.

But with the invention of methods of scientific investigation and discovery there came pouring into the mind of Europe great masses of intellectual material—astronomy, physics, chemistry. This content for a time it could not understand, could not relate to what it already knew. The old boundary lines did not inclose the new fields;the old explanations and interpretations would not fit the new facts. Knowledge had not grown, it had simply been enlarged, and the two masses of content, the old and the new, stood facing each other with no common ground of understanding. Here was the intellectual task of the great leaders of the early modern thought of Europe: to reëstablish the unity of knowledge, to discover the relationships between these apparently hostile bodies of judgments, to know the world again, but with all the added richness of the new insights, and the new information. This was the work of Leibnitz and Spinoza, of Kant and Hegel, and those who labored with them. And in a very considerable measure the task had been accomplished, order had been restored. But again with the inrush of the newer discoveries, first in the field of biology and then later in the world of human relationships, the difficulties have returned, multiplied a thousandfold. Every day sees a new field of facts opened up, a new method of investigation invented, a new department of knowledge established. And in the rush of it all these new sciences come merely as additions, not to be understood but simply numbered, not to be interpreted but simply listed in the great collection of separate fields of knowledge. If you will examine the work of any scientist within one of these fields you will find him ordering, systematizing, reducing to principles, in a word, knowing every fact in terms of its relation to every other fact and to the whole field within which it falls. But at the same time these separate sciences, these separate groups of judgment, are left standing side by side with no intelligible connections, no establishment of relationships, no interpretation in the sense in which we insist upon it within each of the fields taken by itself. Is it not the characteristic statement of a scholar of our time to say: “I do not know what may be the ultimate significance of these facts and these principles; all that I know is that if you will follow my method within my field you will find the facts coming into order, the principles coming into simple and coherent arrangement. With any problems apart from this order and this arrangement I have intellectually no concern.”

It has become an axiom with us that the genuine student labors within his own field. And if the student ventures forth to examine the relations of his field to the surrounding country he very easily becomes a popularizer, a litterateur, a speculator, and worst of all, unscientific. Now I do not object to a man's minding his own intellectual business if he chooses to do so, but when a man minds his own business because he does not know any other business, because he has no knowledge whatever of the relationships which justify his business and make it worth while, then I think one may say that though such a man minds his own affairs he does not know them, he does not understand them. Such a man, from the point of view of the demands of a liberal education, differs in no essential respect from the tradesman who does not understand his trade or the professional man who merely practices his profession. Just as truly as they, he is shut up within a special interest; just as truly as they, he is making no intellectual attempt to understand his experience in its unity. And the pity of it is that more and more the chairs in our colleges are occupied by men who have only this special interest, this specialized information, and it is through them that we attempt to give our boys a liberal education, which the teachers themselves have not achieved.

I should not like to be misunderstood in making this railing accusation against our teachers and our time. If I say that our knowledge is at present a collection of scattered observations about the world rather than an understanding of it, fairness compels the admission that the failure is due to the inherent difficulties of the situation and the novelty of the problems presented. If I cry out against the agnosticism of our people it is not as one who has escaped from it, nor as one who would point the way back to the older synthesis, but simply as one who believes that the time has come for a reconstruction, for a new synthesis. We have had time enough now to get some notion of our bearings, shocks enough to get over our nervousness and discomfiture when a new one comes along. It is the opportunity and the obligation of this generation to think through the content of our knowing once again, to understand it, so far as we can. And in such a battle as this, surely it is the part of the college to take the lead. Here is the mission of the college teacher as of no other member of our common life. Surely he should stand before his pupils and before all of us as a man who has achieved some understanding of this human situation of ours, but more than that, as one who is eager for the conflict with the powers of darkness and who can lead his pupils in enthusiastic devotion to the common cause of enlightenment.

V.

And now, finally, after these attacks upon the policies which other men have derived from their love of knowledge, may I suggest two matters of policy which seem to me to follow from the definition of education which we have taken. The first concerns the content of the college course; the second has to do with the method of its presentation to the undergraduate.

We have said that the system of free election is natural for those to whom knowledge is simply a number of separate departments. It is equally true that in just so far as knowledge attains unity, just so far as the relations of the various departments are perceived, freedom of election by the student must be limited. For it at once appears that on the one side there are vast ranges of information which have virtually no significance for the purposes of a liberal education, while on the other hand there are certain elements so fundamental and vital that without any one of them a liberal education is impossible.

I should like to indicate certain parts of human knowledge which seem to me so essential that no principle of election should ever be allowed to drive them out of the course of any college student.

First, a student should become acquainted with the fundamental motives and purposes and beliefs which, clearly or unclearly recognized, underlie all human experience and bind it together. He must perceive the moral strivings, the intellectual endeavors, the æsthetic experiences of his race, and closely linked with these, determining and determined by them, the beliefs about the world which have appeared in our systems of religion. To investigate this field, to bring it to such clearness of formulation as may be possible, is the task of philosophy—an essential element in any liberal education. Secondly, as in human living, our motives, purposes, and beliefs have found expression in institutions—those concerted modes of procedure by which we work together—a student should be made acquainted with these. He should see and appreciate what is intended, what accomplished, and what left undone by such institutions as property, the courts, the family, the church, the mill. To know these as contributing and failing to contribute to human welfare is the work of our social or humanistic sciences into which a boy must go on his way through the liberal college. Thirdly, in order to understand the motives and the institutions of human life one must know the conditions which surround it, the stage on which the game is played. To give this information is the business of astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, biology, and the other descriptive sciences. These a boy must know, so far as they are significant and relevant to his purpose. Fourthly, as all three of these factors, the motives, the institutions, the natural processes have sprung from the past and have come to be what they are by change upon change in the process of time, the student of human life must try to learn the sequences of events from which the present has come. The development of human thought and attitude, the development of human institutions, the development of the world and of the beings about us—all these must be known, as throwing light upon present problems, present instrumentalities, present opportunities in the life of human endeavor. And in addition to these four studies which render human experience in terms of abstract ideas, a liberal education must take account of those concrete representations of life which are given in the arts, and especially in the art of literature. It is well that a boy should be acquainted with his world not simply as expressed by the principles of knowledge but also as depicted by the artist with all the vividness and definiteness which are possible in the portrayal of individual beings in individual relationships. These five elements, then, a young man must take from a college of liberal training, the contributions of philosophy of humanistic science, of natural science, of history, and of literature. So far as knowledge is concerned, these at least he should have, welded together in some kind of interpretation of his own experience and the world in which he lives.

My second suggestion is that our college curriculum should be so arranged and our instruction so devised that its vital connection with the living of men should be obvious even to an undergraduate. A little while ago I heard one of the most prominent citizens of this country speak of his college days, and he said, “I remember so vividly those few occasions on which the professor would put aside the books and take like a real man about real things.” Oh, the bitterness of those words to the teacher! Our books are not dealing with the real things, and for the most part we are not real men either, but just old fogies and bookworms. And to be perfectly frank about the whole matter, I believe that in large measure our pupils are indifferent to their studies simply because they do not see that these are important.

Now if we really have a vital course of study to present I believe that this difficulty can in large measure be overcome. It is possible to make a freshman realize the need of translating his experience from the forms of feeling to those of ideas. He can and he ought to be shown that now, his days of mere tutelage being over, it is time for him to face the problems of his people, to begin to think about those problems for himself, to learn what other man have learned and thought before him, in a word, to get himself ready to take his place among those who are responsible for the guidance of our common life by ideas and principles and purposes. If this could be done, I think we should get from the reality-loving American boy something like an intellectual enthusiasm, something of the spirit that comes when he plays a game that seems to him really worth playing. But I do not believe that this result can be achieved without a radical reversal of the arrangement of the college curriculum. I should like to see every freshman at once plunged into the problems of philosophy, into the difficulties and perplexities about our institutions, into the scientific accounts of the world especially as they bear on human life, into the portrayals of human experience which are given by the masters of literature. If this were done by proper teaching, it seems to me the boy's college course would at once take on significance for him; he would understand what he is about; and though he would be a sadly puzzled boy at the end of the first year, he would still have before him three good years of study, of investigation, of reflection, and of discipleship, in which to achieve, so far as may be, the task to which he has been set. Let him once feel the problems of the present, and his historical studies will become significant; let him know what other men have discovered and thought about his problems, and he will be ready to deal with them himself. But in any case, the whole college course will be unified and dominated by a single interest, a single purpose—that of so understanding human life as to be ready and equipped for the practice of it. And this would mean for the college, not another seeking of the way of quick returns, but rather an escape from aimless wanderings in the mere bypaths of knowledge, a resolute climbing on the highroad to a unified grasp upon human experience.

I have taken so much of your time this morning that an apology seems due for the things I have omitted to mention. I have said nothing of the organization of the college, nothing of the social life of the students, nothing of the relations with the alumni, nothing of the needs and qualifications of the teachers, and, even within the consideration of the course of study, nothing of the value of specialization or of the disciplinary subjects or of the training of language and expression. And I have put these aside deliberately, for the sake of a cause which is greater than any of them—a cause which lies at the very heart of the liberal college. It is the cause of making clear to the American people the mission of the teacher, of convincing them of the value of knowledge:not the specialized knowledge which contributes to immediate practical aims, but the unified understanding which is Insight.

参考译文

【作品简介】

《通识学院的理论》一文选自亚历山大·米克尔约翰所著《自由与学院》,纽约世纪公司1923年出版,155—189页。

【作者简介】

亚历山大·米克尔约翰(1872—1964),美国教育家、哲学教师。本文是他在1912年10月16日出任马萨诸塞州阿默斯特学院院长一职时的就职演说。

42 通识学院的理论

在关于大学教育的讨论中,有一个声音极少被听到,而且往往被忽视。那就是来自教师与学者的声音,大学教师队伍的声音。在此,我意在思量教师的理想,思考在教学过程中呈现在教师面前的种种问题。之所以这样做,并不是因为在我看来当下教师比其他处理同样问题的人更加智慧贤明,而是笃定且信任教师这个角色在我们的教育体制的地位和作用。这种作用表现为教师作为其时代的思想领导者,能够成为学生和整个社区的表率。如果他无法承担此领导作用,那么他就愧对这个称谓。如果他的领导地位被剥夺,被赋予他人,那么整个教育体制的基础也将会为之动摇。在教学中拾人牙慧、亦步亦趋的教师培养不出效仿力强的学生,更谈不上教育真正依赖的树立信心、鼓舞忠诚、激励崇奉。如果有人能够比当今的教师在这些方面做得更加出色,那么我们必须把他们请进大学校园中来。而且,如果教师所做的工作得到社会的价值认同,我们所有人应视其为老师,听从他的言辞,因为他所言之事正是被交托之职。

关于教师的教育信条,首先我将尝试对他的信仰做简短说明;其次,针对有关大学之作用的其他观点,为他的信仰进行辩护;第三,对教师信仰的意义和重要性进行阐释;第四,批评在当今教师队伍中普遍存在的对信仰意义重要性的误解;最后,如果教师的信仰被充分理解并被应用于我们的教育过程之中,则必须对随之而来的一些政策变化提出建议。

首先,在我们的教师心目中,什么才是大学教育的目标呢?无论他们何时何地表达自己的观点和信念,其核心论点必然是,如果一所学院要实现通识教育,就必须根本上是知识思想型的。教师们告诉我们,大学是这样一个地方:在这里,一个孩子会将其他一切杂事抛诸脑后,专注于学业。大学是这样一段时光:在这段时光里,一个年轻人会开始关注人民的思想,会领悟感知现在是什么,曾经是什么,将来会是什么。不论无忧无虑的大学生有何想法,不管怀着殷切期望的父母、雄心勃勃的赞助者、正在寻找员工的雇主乃至教会或国家或商界领袖持何种观点——总之,无论局外人的信念、愿望和要求是什么——大学教师比任何人都

清楚他的职责所在,声明他的使命就是引领他的学生走进思想生活。大学从根本上不是一个关于身体的地方,也不是一个关于情感的地方,甚至也不是一个关于意志的地方;它是一个旨在形成思想、充实头脑的地方。

我们的教师发现有两股势力一贯站在对大学的思想性阐释的对立面,对其形成干扰。一股来自大学校园之外,表现为繁杂的商业和社会体系的实际需求;另一股来自大学校园之内,是其支持者的细微琐碎、感情用事且毫无理性的误解。我们的大学教师就如同参孙降世与非利士人进行终生争战一般,已经习惯于与这两股势力周旋。一旦他们拥有坚定的意念,对手的施展空间便微乎其微。

与校园之外的现实需求针锋相对时,问题的阐释便清晰明确。大学教师深知这个世界需要训练有素的工人,技术娴熟的技工,头脑聪明的买卖人,富有效率的主管,资源丰富的制造商,能力出众的律师、政客、医生和教师。但同样无可厚非的是,为专注于自身的工作,通识学院必须将这些行业的专门技术训练任务交由其他学校,以其他方式进行。总而言之,通识学院从不自诩有能力开设让大学学龄的年轻人快速获益的所有课程;也不宣称他们所有的教育都是有价值的。通识学院致力于通识性的知识教育,无论其内涵是什么,这是它必须效忠的使命。一个大学教师代表可以非常笃定地说,他们所从事的教育是知识思想型的,这与重视实践性的技术学校或职业学校截然不同。在技术学校中,学生学习如何操作某种机械,从而为人类的福祉做出贡献。他接受各种训练,比如学习针绣、纺织、农耕、建筑;大多数情况下,他接受的是实践操作而非理论训练。到毕业时,他所拥有的不是丰富的思想观点、大量的科学原理,而是一些实践技能、一套经验法则。作为手艺人,他的主要职责不是通文明意而是躬行实践,在做实际需要的工作的过程中,他要做的是遵循指导规则,这些规则已经由前人熟思总结,现在由他来付诸实践。技术学校旨在提供训练,这种训练不是我们所谓的知识思想性的,而是实践性的。

同样,职业学校的工作与通识学院的工作也迥然相异。在工程学、医学或法学的教学中,我们关注的不是或可能不会去关注纯粹的技术领域,而是步入思想观点与理论原理的疆域。但对这些思想观点的择取与关联则受现实旨趣所支配,这一旨趣与学者的思想性视角相割裂。假如一名大学生从他的化学、生物学和心理学课程中仅仅获得能直接快速地运用于医学领域实践的知识内容,大学教师一定会感到他们未能成功给予这名学生大学所应有的那种教育,因为,他们的目的不在于提供这个意义上的应用型知识。他们不愿将科学切割成段,任由学生们去选取那些可能对他们的技术或职业有用的碎片。在某种意义上,大学教师感到他与科学家和学者有一种亲近感,这种亲近感阻止他将他的教育屈从于直接的现实利益。无论如何,他努力秉持知识思想性的观点,尽量让学生紧跟自己的脚步。至于技术和职业训练,我们的大学教师会说,这样的训练应在其他学校习得,而不是在一所弘扬博雅文化的大学获得。

在与大学内部势力纠缠的过程中,我们的教师们发现自己同样陷于与外部敌人的斗争之中。在他们看来,大学的赞助者、在校生、毕业生、董事会成员,甚至连他们的同事似乎都在以千姿百态的方式曲解着大学的使命,将它的知识思想性理想降到最低层次甚至予以歪曲。大学是一个结交朋友的绝佳之地;让人享受与人相处时的美好体验;拥有作为“体育俱乐部”的特殊优势;对于第一次离家的孩子来说,它是一个相对安全之地;总的来说,它会改善一个学生的行为举止;让崇高的理想和高尚的情操与人为伴,宣传社会服务的信条,赞扬公民的美德和职责。所有这些观点对一个教师来说似乎都是在隐藏或掩盖一个事实,即大学从根本上讲是一个思想的圣地,一段思考的时光,一次认知的机会。这些观点蕴藏着崇高的目的和动机,但与此相称,可能也愈发危险,因为它们在试图以更强有力的方式替代或抹除其赖以存在的基本原则。当这些错误观念得以清除时,就没有人能怀疑大学教师打的是一场正义之仗。确实,一个孩子应该进行整整四年的体育运动,或自己去参加比赛,或观看同伴的赛事;他的行为举止的确需要规范得体;结交益友乃意义非凡之事;理解力与协作的能力同样很有价值;身心得以不断成长,为社会福利做出更多贡献,更加愿意承担公民应尽的义务,善于抓住应有的机会,这些当然都是益事。如果其中任何一项从大学课程的教育成果中缺失,我们很可能抱怨收获不丰。然而,正是在诸如此类的重压之下,在被大学校园内外的社会力量的推拉撕扯之中,学生的思想常常偏离其主要关注点,这难道不是事实吗?难道我们的社会实际利益没有使我们的学生们从理应主宰他们的想象力和激情的思想成果中分心吗?我认为人们或许可以将此理解为今日之大学教师在深思熟虑后做出的判断,即大学的作用一直在被误解,认为其受制于现实需求,而这种需求虽然意图良好,却对思想教育的效率和成功产生毁灭性的作用。

然而,既然大学教师的论点已经得以阐明并通过与其反对观点的辩驳得到重申,现在是时候提出以下疑问了:它的内涵是什么?如何证明其合理性?一群学者以何种能力邀请这些学生共度四年时光?由于坚持自己理想中的思想性教育,他们是否能让学生接受一种明确的非实践性教育呢?如果是这样,他们将如何使自己的邀请有理有据,进而可以劝服年轻人放弃其他兴趣和对自己与同伴都很宝贵的伙伴情谊,转而投奔他们呢?简言之,教师的内在动力是什么?即对他来说,在思想旨趣和思想活动中有何内在因素可以保证其在大学期间对年轻人的训练和教育中起到主导作用?

关于这个问题,并没有一个令人满意的答案可以激励我们全身心地将信念倾注于思想性教育理念之中;也没有一个令人满意的理由可以要求我们对知识智慧满怀信心,享受精神生活,或可以要求我们热爱知识,出于激情去追寻知识。我们当中的大多数人已经怀着热切的心情去接受思想性理想,但正是这份热忱和执着不允许我们盲目地接受它们。我经常为坚持思想理念这一要求的内在矛盾感到迷惑及受挫。这似乎意味着——而且通常也被理解为——我们须虚怀若愚、天真无邪地去攀缘智慧之树,摘取智慧之果,须质疑除思想用途之外的任何事物。正如布拉德雷先生所说,“相信智慧”这个格言是如此真实以至于它常常走向虚假的边缘。正是我们对其真实性的笃信驱使我们彻头彻尾地审视它、检验它。

那么我们如何才能证实大学教师的信念呢?我们能给出什么理由来解释为何要弘扬思想训练和活动?关于这个问题,可能有两个答案:第一,知识和思想本身是有益的;第二,它们帮助我们获取生活中其他有价值之物,而没有知识和思想是万万做不到的。这两个答案可能由(而且已经由)大学教师们给出,其中蕴含了一切能够对通识学院的工作所做出的解释和辩护。

第一个答案现在受到的认可程度远不及它本应得到的。当一个阅历丰富的人被告知一个孩子要受到思想训练仅仅是因为思想本身的乐趣和满足感,只是为了他在有生之年能够持续地思考时,话音未落,就已经听到这个饱经世故之人嘲笑奚落学院派人士是在做异想天开的美梦。但如果思想本身并非益事,如果纯粹的思想活动毫无价值的话,这位阅历丰富者会告诉我们什么有益,什么有价值吗?我们当中有人乐于在鸡毛蒜皮、庸俗粗鄙之人的消遣中寻求满足感,无暇顾及思想带来的乐趣。有人被紧紧地圈定在微不足道的乐趣中,他们从未梦想过阅读、交谈、研究、思考所能带来的快乐。关于这些,人们只能说这是一种品位的差异,他们的品位似乎比较无聊乏味。当然通识学院的一个作用便是把孩子们从这种乏味中解救出来,激励他们追求思考的乐趣,使他们对由欣赏和理解事物所得来的快乐变得敏感,向他们展示心灵游戏是多么美好迷人,多么有益于身心健康。当游戏的因素仍然占上风时,让孩子们知道面对问题和解决问题的游戏规则很有意义。除一些友谊和怜悯的情感经历外,我怀疑是否存在如思想活动那般永远令人满足、美好绝妙的人类旨趣。给予我们的孩子们感知思想性事物的那种激情和快乐,赋予他们欣赏值得去经历的那种生活的能力,让他们成为思想文化人——那无疑是任何一所通识学院的工作的一部分。

另一方面,如此定义之下的文化创造决不能等同于大学的所有成就。唤起发问的灵感、实验的动机、研究的潜质、思考的冲动,激发对思想的本能的渴望至关重要。但没有一所通识学院会止步于此。像所有其他本能的反应一样,这种思想的冲动必须接受质问,必须被理智化。这一点值得我们去思考,但是我们要思考的对象是什么呢?较之其他,有没有更有价值的研究思路和思考途径呢?如果有,它们的价值如何才能得到验证?再者,如果思考的冲动与其他欲求和渴望发生冲突时,这种对立该如何解决?有人曾暗示我们的思想文化人可能就像古罗马帝国的皇帝尼禄,当整个世界为熊熊大火所包围时,他不仅熟视无睹,还为眼前的景象舞文弄墨。这里不是说舞文弄墨是件坏事,是毫无意义的消遣,而是说这样做显得不合时宜,此人与其所处环境完全脱节,其所作所为有违常理,不符合现实。总之,人们知道思想就如同其他人类体验一样,不能以自身来衡量其价值。它必须被置于与其他内容和整个人类体验的关系之中来加以考量。思想本身是益事——但是它以何物为代价?又带来何种其他价值?把它置于各种个人和社会体验之中,以它的内涵来作为衡量的标准,以它的关系网来对其定位,这样,你就会知道它的价值,这种价值不囿于自身,这是一种当人类的欲望得以理性化,人类的生活以其整体被感知,而且可以被生活在其中的人所知晓时方能显现出的更深层次的价值。

由此,我们找到了教师关于证实大学工作合理性的要求的第二个答案。他告诉我们,知识是有益的,不仅在于它自身,而且在于它对我们的人生经历中的其他价值的丰富和提升。知识值得以最深层且最完全意义上的话语来诠释。这是基于对人类活动的两组分类——即本能类型和思想类型——做出的论断。到目前为止,我们在进行大部分人类活动时,对于我们将要做什么,怎么做并没有清晰明确的概念。大多数情况下,我们对所处环境做出反应是出于情感、认知、习俗和传统的即时反应。但是随着思想缓慢而艰难的发展,一个接一个的行为从情感型转变成了概念型;人们开始在越来越宽阔的领域中对自己的行为模式有了认知,随着他们对事物的了解越来越深入,也愈发明确自身以及自身的需求。我们所有教育过程的基本原则是:总体上,当行为活动从感性的情感范畴过渡到理性的理解范畴时,它们会更加成功。我们的教育理念是:从长远来看,如果人们知道自己要做什么,怎么去做,他们所处的环境如何,那么他们对那个环境做出的反应会比在类似环境中情感型的反应更加有致,从而能够更好地做出调整。

显而易见,这一原则的合理性有其局限性。如果人们先去调查,再去思考,继而才做出决定,那么这个行动一定会被延迟,我们就不得不接受等待所带来的惩罚。如果人们努力去了解和掌握他们所处的环境,那么我们必须做好足够的心理准备,看着他们在思想上犯错误,由于不确定性因素而畏缩不前,糊里糊涂地掉进陷阱,陷入幻想和错误思想的深渊,到头来耗费大量时间,而所得的价值还远远低于他们所试图取代的本能反应之下的所得。思想滞后、谬误和不确定性会让我们付出沉重代价,但是大学教师坚信,这个代价比起所得的算不了什么。你可能会向他指明,在理解式批评面前,陈规陋习毫无优势可言,相反,只会带来损失。你可能会提醒他,被取代的旧式思想和行动将会带来痛苦与折磨,你可能会因为过去所犯的过错谴责他;但是尽管如此,他和你一样深知在人们个体生活和整个人类生活中,人们最大的缺失就是缺乏理解,他们最大的希望就是了解自己和自己生活的这个世界。

在这个总的教育原则的范围内,通识学院的地位便可轻易地得以确定了。在技术学校,学生们为一份特定的工作做准备,大部分停留在感性活动的层面,做别人可以理解的工作。在职业学校,学生们倒是处在思想和原则的领域之内,但他们仍然局限于某一特定的人类旨趣,他们的认知活动也仅基于此。但是大学之所以相对于这两类学校被称为“通识学院”,是因为它的教育不是由特定的兴趣所主宰,它不局限于任何单个的人类使命,不是孤立地理解人类的种种努力,而是将人类活动当作整体,将这种理解置于彼此的联系之中,置于与总体经验即我们所谓的人们的生活的关联之下。就如同我们认为随着人们对造船原理的掌握,船只的建造已经愈加成功;就如同随着我们对人体结构及其内在环境和外在影响的逐渐了解,医学实践也已经变得更加卓有成效;因此,通识学院的教师相信,鉴于人们开始逐渐理解生活,努力在继续人生的过程中逐渐懂得生活,人类的生活——作为一种整体事业,亦作为展现在我们每个人面前的个体生活——也会更加成功。让孩子们拥有一种对人类经历的思想性理解——在我看来这是教师眼中的通识学院的主要职能。

请大家关注这样一个事实,教师的第二个答案开诚布公地明确了大学的目标是实践性的。追求知识主要是为了对人类生活的其他方面做出贡献。但是另一方面,又明确宣称在方法论上,大学是完全地毫无保留地思想性的。如果我们能够发现这两种要求并不冲突,相反它们相辅相成,处于一种方式与目的、工具与成就、方法与结果的和谐关系中,我们可能就可以避免很多不必要的冲突,将我们的教育方针统一在同一目标和活动之中。为了这样做,我们必须表明大学是思想性的,这个思想性并不与实践旨趣和目标相悖,只是反对不实际的不理智的工作方法。问题不在于是实践性的还是思想性的目标,而在于目标是眼前的还是长远的,程序方法是仓促而定的还是权衡思量过的,结果是要求立竿见影的还是愿意通过等待得到最好的。通往成功的思想性道路比其他的道路更加漫长,更加迂回曲折,比起走捷径想获得快速回报的人,意志坚定、敢于攀登的人一定会取得更高的成就。如果事实并非如此,那么通识学院在我们的生活中就不会占有一席之地。鉴于事实确实如此,大学就有权利将我们最出色的年轻人聚集起来,帮助他们做好准备,迎接未来的生活。

但是既然我们已试图说明了大学的思想使命,就有理由发问:“我们今天的教师和学者们是否始终忠于这一使命?他们的所言所行是否印证着我们所提到的原则?”在我看来,他们似乎常常在两点上不得要领,始终与合理的教学理念相悖。

首先,对于这项思想性工作的实际价值,我们的教师和学者们似乎常常故意合起伙来蒙蔽大众的思想。他们并不愿意过多谈及其成果和利益。他们所期望的是高举“思想”的大旗,颂扬“思想”的福音,并要求大众与学生一样忠于信仰。总体来看,当有声音质疑这项工作的结果时,除了那些坚持拥护他们武断言论的人,他们几乎不能给其他人满意的答复。在我看来,这种态度在很大程度上导致了美国人几乎无法理解大学在思想层面的任务;我们的大众和赞助人士能够理解比赛和体育锻炼的意义;也能够感受到社会上的互谅互让对于民主大学之重要性;他们能够领会研究对于学生未来职业的价值,因而提前或免去在职业学校的学习;他们甚至认为,如果一个孩子四年中坚持思考,他的思维会更敏锐,更系统,更精确,所以也会比之前更有用处。但是就课程的内容而言,就知识的意义而言,除了对于职业本身有意义外,学生学习希腊语或经济学、哲学或文学、历史或生物学的知识后还会获得什么?在我们进行说明之前,这一问题的答案对诸位或许不甚明了。如果老师们说(他们有时候确实说)大学学习的知识对于大学生的品性与生活的作用是随机的,与知识真正的目的和功能并无真正的联系,那么,在我看来我们的教育方针是完全脱节的。如果教导与生活没有了内在联系,那么除了眼下看来教育本身是令人愉悦的外,就没有理由进行教导了,这样我们就没有教育方针一说了。为了防止这种踟蹰和信仰的缺失,我们大学中的人应该明确我们的信条——知识的意义在于它所带来的成果。为了避免误会,我们应该直白地告诉人民:“把你们的孩子交给我们吧,再给我们所需要的资金,我们将会训练孩子们的思维,并告诉他们有了我们的训练,他们以及他们周围的人都会拥有更加成功的人生。给我们机会,我们能教会你们的孩子什么是人生,因为我们深信有识之士比无知之人拥有更精彩的人生。

另一种偏离这种信念的观点在研究者中十分常见,因此也可以称作“学者谬误”。这种谬误认为所有的知识作为整体是美好的,因此,构成整体的部分知识同样都是美好的。不少学者和教师在回答孩子应该学什么科目以更好地洞悉人生这一问题时都会说:“学什么知识没有关系,梵文或细菌学、数学或历史都一样,只要进入人类正在解决知识问题的领域,只要学会自己去解决这些问题,教育的目的就已经达到了,因为他已经参与进思想活动中。”这种贯穿诸多课程选择体系的观点在我看来与任何合理的教育理论都毫无契合之处。这代表着一个学者作为教师和思想家的最低水平。目前,这种观点盛行于一群大学教师之中,我似乎应该指出这群人不适合参与大学课程的决策与管理。这意味着他们的教育实践中没有指导原则,学研部署中没有选择标准,也没有真正抓住知识与生活之间的联系。这种观点的共鸣来自一个群体,这群人在自己从事的专业研究领域内迷失,彼此之间又尚未形成有机联系,更无法协作完成共同任务。

第二点对于学者的批评并不意味着要完全叫停大学学习中的课程选择规定,但需要考察能够确保其合理性的理由和限度。有一个大家都很熟悉的观点可以用在此,即如果学生可以按照他对知识和职业的兴趣选择专业课程,他将热情饱满,并产生基于自身天赋的求知欲。现在,只要这一结果能够实现,只要学问的质量有所提高,这个过程就是有益的。如果我们不会因为这个过程而得不偿失,就应该将其采纳。但如果特殊兴趣与更为基本的兴趣相冲突,如果学生所喜欢的与他应该感兴趣的内容相悖,我们就不能将选择权留给学生。对于这些学生,我们必须坦率地说:“如果你不接受通识教育,此处就不适合你;我们有特定的培养任务,它要求我们不被特殊的或者职业性的追求所左右。只要我们忠于职守,就不能任意满足你的要求。”

然而我认为,课程选择体系的根本动机并非如上所述。教师到最后一步才会允许学生自己选择其学习的课程,但这并不是迎合学生的知识或职业兴趣,而是因为他们自己没有一个足够自信的选择来支配。这种支配性教育方针的缺失反过来体现着一种理性思想的态度,那是一种我们这个时代的学者特有的观点。总之,对我而言,我们愿意让学生在大学课程中任意选择是某种知识层面的不可知论的典型表现之一,是一种思想的崩解,即便我们掌握再多的信息也没能阻止时代精神的崩塌。下面我要对自己的观点做一解释。

旧的经典课程由那些持有完整的世界观和人生观的人构建。他们已知晓当时可获取的全部人类知识,并将这些内容加工成为一个彼此衔接的整体。从我们的标准来看,他们所掌握的知识总量是很少的。但他们却将无限的精力用于对这些极为有限的知识的理解和阐释之上。在分别掌握了世人对于科学、哲学、历史、艺术等作为独立学科的观点后,他们将不同的学科融合,构建彼此之间的关系,并消除学科中的抵牾和含混之处,以便在他们生活的年代,整个人类的生活和周围的世界为人们所认识、理解并被赋予理性。他们有自己赖以生存的人生经验,并将这些经验传授给其他参与生存活动的人们。

但随着科学发现和研究方法的诞生,涉及天文学、物理学、化学的大量知识涌入欧洲人的头脑。这些知识曾经一度无法被理解,也无法与已知的知识建立联系。旧的科学体系无法容纳新的知识,旧的理论无法解释新的情况。知识并没有纵深增长,只是横向地得以扩展,缺乏共同理解基础的新旧知识体系彼此对立。此时,早期欧洲现代思想的伟大领袖们便有了新的知识任务,即重建知识体系,理清看上去敌对的各知识模块间的关系,并用新的更具丰富的洞察力和新信息重新认识世界。莱布尼兹、斯宾诺莎、康德、黑格尔以及与他们共事的人承担起了这项伟大的工作。他们在很大程度上完成了这项工作并重新构建了秩序。但随着新学科的涌入,如生物学以及后来的人际关系,比之前困难千倍的问题又出现了。每天都会有新的领域开启,新的研究方法诞生,新的知识门类建立。这些新涌现的学科只是在数量上增加了知识的门类,并没有被人们理解,只是为了统计数量才被列在大批独立知识领域所构成的清单上统计数量,却并未得以阐释。如果研究一下涉足这些领域的任何一位科学家的著作,你就会发现他使知识秩序化、系统化、规则化。换言之,他对新证据的认识都是通过其与已知证据及所处的整个领域的联系来实现的。但同时,这些彼此独立的学科,这些互不相干的观点集合仍然被孤立地对待,它们之间没有显而易见的关联,没有构建起彼此关系,也没有按照我们所坚持的在各自领域中所赋予它的意义并对它们进行阐释。我们这个时代的学者最常见的观点难道不是说:“我不知道这些证据和规则究竟有什么意义,我只知道在我的领域中只要你按照我的方法来做,证据就会变得有秩序,规则也会因此简洁而有条理。条理和秩序之外的任何问题我都尚未考虑。”

真正的学者只在自己的领域之内从事研究,这目前已经成为一个普遍接受的道理。如果一位学者冒险去探索自己领域与周围领域的关系,他很容易成为知识普及工作者、文人、思辨者,或者最不好的结果是变得与科学研究背道而驰。现在如果有人选择只关注自己的业务领域我并不反对,但如果一个人这样做是因为他不懂其他业务领域的知识,或是因为他不了解使他的业务变得有理据、有意义的任何相关领域的知识,那我们就可以说虽然此人很专注于自己的业务,但他并不通晓,并不理解它们。这样的人,从今天所要求的“通识教育”的角度看,与不懂自己买卖的买卖人和只从事自己专业的职业人士没有本质差别。他与他们一样将自己封闭于狭窄的个人兴趣之内,而从来不花脑力从整体上理解自己的经验。遗憾的是,我们大学里越来越多的席位都被这些仅有特定兴趣,掌握专业化知识的人占据。我们正是通过他们对孩子们进行通识教育,而他们自己都尚未称得上是通才。

大家不要误以为我是在苛责我们的教师和这个时代。如果我说目前我们的知识只是来源于对世界零散的观察,而并非源于对世界的整体理解,对此,一种合理的解释是,这种缺陷是目前形势本身存在的困难和不断产生的新问题所致。如果我高声反对人们所持有的不可知论,那不是为了逃避,也不是提倡复古,而只是认为我们应该重新整合出一个新的知识体系。我们已经有足够的时间适应革新所带来的压力和冲击,有足够的时间克服革新伴随的紧张和尴尬情绪。我们这一代有机会,也有义务去重新思考我们掌握的知识,并尽我们所能理解它们。在这样一场战役中,打头阵的应该是大学。大学老师当然应该作为一个对我们人类的处境有一定了解的人站在学生和大众面前,但这还不够,他应该勇于与黑暗势力抗争,并能够带领他的学生满怀热情地投身人类共同的启蒙大业。这便是一个属于大学老师,而不属于日常生活中任何其他成员的使命。

最后,在我抨击了前人出于对知识的热爱而制定的方针之后,请允许我基于大众对教育的定义,提出两点关于教育方针的建议,第一点是关于大学课程的内容,第二点涉及课程教授的方法。

我们已经说过,对于那些认为知识仅仅是孤立门类的人而言,自由选课体系是理所应当的。但同样确定的是,如果把知识看成一个整体,看到不同门类之间的联系,学生选课的自由性就要受到限制。因为我们同时发现,一方面,似乎大量的信息对于通识教育这个目标实际上并无作用,而另一方面,又有不少至关重要的内容是通识教育不可或缺的。

下面我简要地说一下人类知识中有一些最核心的部分,在我看来任何选课规定都不该允许这些部分从学生的课程计划中缺失。

首先,学生应该熟悉隐藏于一切人类经验背后并使之彼此统一的动机、目标和信仰,无论这些动机、目标和信仰是否清晰可辨。他必须体会到人类在道德上的奋进和在知识上的勤勉,理解他的种族对于美的体验,以及与之紧密相关并互起决定作用的信仰,这些信仰关乎我们的世界,并已出现在我们的宗教系统中。作为通识教育的核心构成元素之一,哲学的任务便是研究这一领域,并使之尽可能如公式般清晰明了。第二,由于在生活中,我们的动机、目标和信仰都体现于制度,也就是我们共同工作时约定的行为程式,即制度规定,学生也应该对这些制度了然于心。他应该能够察觉并理解诸如财产、法庭、家庭、教堂、工厂等制度的目标是为什么,做了什么,还没有做什么。知晓这些制度是否有益于人类福祉也是我们的人文社会科学的工作,是推行通识教育的大学中学生必修的。第三,为了理解人类生活中的制度和动机,人们必须理解周围的环境,也就是“人生游戏”得以开展的平台。而要了解这些,就要学习天文学、地质学、物理学、化学、生物学以及其他描述性科学。只要与学生的学习目标有关系、有意义,他就必须知道这些。第四,鉴于以上三个方面,即动机、制度和自然过程都始于过去,并在长期的连续变化后才呈现出现状,学生要理解人生,就必须了解由古至今发生的一系列事件,即历史。人类思想和态度的发展历程,制度的形成过程,世界的演化以及与我们相关的物种进化——这些都需要了解,因为它们会帮助我们理解现今人类生存活动中遇到的问题,为我们提供解决方法,从而让我们获得机会。除了这四类将人类经验抽象化的学问,通识教育还应该涉及对人生的现实刻画,这样的内容属于艺术,尤其是文学艺术。孩子了解的世界不仅仅应该表现为知识原理,而且应该体现在艺术家生动而清晰的描绘中,而这只有在对个体和个体关系的描绘中才能得到体现。哲学、人文科学、自然科学、历史和文学是年轻人从通识教育中必须获取的五个部分,一个学生至少应该掌握这些知识;它们会融为一体,从而有助于他理解自身经历和他所处的世界时。

我的第二个建议是,我们的大学课程安排和教学设计都需要与民生息息相关,这种关联应该是显而易见的,即便是本科生也应该能够察觉。前不久,我听到一位国内名流人士回忆自己的大学生活时说:“至今我还记得那些教授们抛开书本,作为活生生的人去谈论现实问题的场景,这些场景虽然为数不多,却令我记忆犹新。”唉,老师们听到这话该有多难过啊。我们的书本解决的不是现实的问题,而大部分情况下,我们也不是活生生的人,而只是老学究和书呆子而已。开诚布公地看待整个问题,我敢说我们的学生对学习漠不关心,很大程度上是因为他们觉得所学的内容没有用处。

现在,如果我们真的有一门核心课程要教给学生,我认为这一困难在很大程度上可以克服。使一名大一新生意识到有必要将他的感性经验转化为理性思考,这一点是可以实现的。现在,他能够也必须明白,单纯灌输知识的日子一去不返了,他必须直面他的民族所面临的问题,开始独立思考那些问题,学习前人所学过及思考过的东西。总而言之,准备着分担以思想、准则和目标引领大众生活的重任。如果这一点做到了,我想我们就能从关怀现实的美国孩子身上感受到一些期待的东西,例如对知识的热情,感受到当他们出于认同某件事的价值而全力为之时流露出的精神。但我认为,如果不彻底颠覆大学的课程安排,这个结果就无法实现。我期待看到每个新生沉浸哲学思考,研究复杂难解的制度,探索关于世界的科学性描述,尤其是那些与人类生活相关的内容。我也期待看到他们致力于刻画文学巨匠笔下的人物生活经验。如果通过正确的引导让他做到了这些,在我看来,大学课程就会变得有意义。他也就会理解自我的价值。虽然第一年的学习之后他还会因困惑而迷茫,但他还有足足三年时间去学习,去研究,去思考,去拜师,在这个过程中完成现在看来可能属于他的任务。要让学生认识到只有关注当下,学习历史才意义。遇到同样问题时,要了解前人在这个问题上是如何发现,有何思考的,这样他就能够自己解决这些问题。但是无论如何,大学的课程都是统一的,由统一的目标和兴趣支配,即理解人类的生活,并准备将理解的内容付诸实践。对于大学来说,这并非另一种急功近利,而是避免漫无目的地徘徊在知识边缘,而是坚定地跋涉在大路之上,追求对于人类经验的一致性。

今天上午我已经占用了诸位很长的时间,对于省去未提的内容,似乎只好说句抱歉了。我没有提到关于学院的组织机构,没有提及学生的社交生活,没有说到与校友的关系,没有说到教师的资历和需求,甚至就课程学习而言,也没有提到专业化学习的价值,没有提到各学科的课程科目,以及语言和表达能力的训练等。我有意避开这些话题,是为了一个更为重要的目标,这个目标对于推行通识教育的大学而言处于核心地位,那就是告诉美国人教师的使命,使他们相信知识的价值,这里的知识并不是指能够快速达到实际目的的专业知识,而是一种具有共性的理解,一种真知灼见。

(罗选民 译)


内容来自 听力课堂网:/show-7849-414210-1.html
用手机学英语,请加听力课堂
微信公众号:tingclass123
用户搜索

疯狂英语 英语语法 新概念英语 走遍美国 四级听力 英语音标 英语入门 发音 美语 四级 新东方 七年级 赖世雄 zero是什么意思

订阅每日学英语:

  • 频道推荐
  • |
  • 全站推荐
  • 广播听力
  • |
  • 推荐下载
  • 网站推荐