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汉娜·阿伦特《人的境况》前言

Hannah Arendt The Human Condition, Prologue

1957年,一个人造的、在地球上诞生的物体,被发射到了太空中,在随后的数星期内,它绕地球航行,与不停地做旋转运动的天体——太阳、月亮和星辰——一样,遵循着同一套重力规律。准确地说,这个人造卫星既不是月亮或星星,也不是沿圆周轨道运行的天体,后者对我们受地球寿命所限的凡人来说,是永恒存在下去的东西。不过,在一段时间里,这个人造卫星打算留在太空中,它以与天体近似的方式在天上栖息和运行,仿佛它已被暂时地允许加入它们的高贵行列。

这一在重要性上无可比拟,甚至比原子裂变还重要的事件,如果不考虑它在军事上和政治上带来的令人不快的影响,就应当得到人们无比喜悦的欢呼。但奇怪的是,人们的欢呼并非胜利的喜悦,也不是在面对人力掌控自然的巨大力量时,充盈于心中的骄傲和敬畏之情(现在当他们从地球上仰望天空时,就能观看到一个他们自己制造的东西)。在事件发生的一瞬间,直接的反应是大松一口气,人类总算“朝着摆脱地球对人的束缚迈出了第一步”。这个奇特的宣言不是某个美国记者随口说说的,而是恰好重复了二十年前刻在一位俄国伟大科学家墓碑上的惊人之语:“人类不会永远束缚在地球上。”

这样的情绪一段时间来很常见,表现为人们已处处不愿再慢吞吞地理解和适应科学发现和技术进步,而且,他们在几十年里就把科学甩到了后头。在这儿和在其他方面一样,科学家们实现了人们最大胆的梦想,证明这些梦想既不狂野也非荒诞无稽。新奇的只是这个国家中最受人尊敬的一份报纸,终于把直到那时还尘封在不太受人尊敬的科幻文学里的故事(不幸的是,对科幻故事作为一种大众情绪和大众愿望的传达手段,没有人给予应有的重视)登上了报纸头条。这个报道的平庸不应当让我们忽视它事实上的了不起,因为尽管基督徒说过尘世是一个泪之谷,哲学家把他们的身体视为思想或灵魂的监狱,但人类历史上还没有哪个人把地球本身看作人类身体的监狱,或表现出如此急切地想从地球上移居到月球上的渴望。难道肇始于一种背离(不必然是背离上帝,而是背离作为“我们在天上的父”的一位神)的现代解放和世俗化,要终结于更致命的对地球本身——天空下所有生物之母——的背弃吗?

地球是人类条件的集中体现,而且我们都知道,地球自然是宇宙中独一无二的能为人类提供一个栖息地的场所,在这里人类不借助人造物的帮助,就能毫不费力地行走和呼吸。世界上的人造物把人类存在与一切纯粹的动物环境区分开来,但是生命本身是外在于这个人造世界的。而现在大量的科学投入却致力于让生命也成为“人工的”,切断这一让人属于自然母亲怀抱的最后纽带。同样一种摆脱地球束缚的强烈渴望,也体现在从试管中创造出生命的努力,体现在“从能力显著的人身上取出精子冷冻”,混合后“放在显微镜下制造出超人”,并“改变(他们的)体形和能力”的愿望中。而且我猜想,摆脱人类条件的心愿,也体现在让人的寿命延长到百岁以上的期望中。

科学家告诉我们,他们在不到一百年的时间里就可以生产出的未来人类,似乎拥有一种反抗人类被给定的存在的能力,拥有一种不知从哪里来(就世俗而言)的自由天分,只要他愿意,他可以给自己换上他造出来的任何东西。没有理由怀疑我们实现这种自由交换的能力,正如没有理由怀疑我们当今有能力破坏地球上的所有有机生命。问题仅仅在于,是否我们真的想在这一方向上使用我们的新科学技术知识,而且这个问题不能由科学手段来决定,它是首要的政治问题,从而也不能留给专门科学家和专门政治家来回答。

即使这样的可能性还处在遥远的将来,但科学伟大胜利的首个令人振奋的结果,已经让科学家们感到他们自身处在自然科学的危机当中了。一个棘手的事实就是,现代科学世界观的“真理”,虽然可以用数学公式来演示并在技术上得到证明,但无法再让自身表达为普通的言说或思想。只要这些“真理”一得到连贯的概念表述,接下来的陈述就必定是“或许不像‘一个三角形的圆’那样无意义,但至少像‘一个长翅膀的狮子’那样无意义”(薛定谔语)。我们还不知道这种状况是不是最终的,但有可能的是,我们——受地球限制却仿佛像宇宙的居民一样行动的生物——大概永远都无法理解,即无法思考和谈论我们仍然能够做的东西。就此而言,我们的大脑(构成了我们思想的物理和物质条件)似乎没有能力理解我们所做的事,以至于从现在起,我们的确需要人造机器来代替我们思考和说话。如果真的证明了知识(在现代意义上是“知道-如何”)与思想已经永远分道扬镳,那么我们确实变成了无助的奴隶,不仅是我们机器的奴隶,而且是我们的“知道-如何”的奴隶,变成了无思想的生物,受任何一个技术上可能的玩意儿的操纵,哪怕它会置人于死地。

除了这些最终的和尚不确定的后果之外,科学所创造的形势还有重要的政治意义。凡言谈遭遇危险之处,事情就在本质上变成了政治的,因为言谈使人成为一种政治存在。假如我们遵照如此频繁地催促着我们的建议,即让我们的文化态度也去适应当前科学成就的地位,我们就会不顾一切地采取一种让言谈不再有意义的生活方式。因为今天的科学已经被迫采取了一种数学符号“语言”,虽然这种符号语言最初只不过用作口头陈述的一种省略形式,但它现在包含的陈述再也不能转译回口头言说。为什么说不信任科学家作为科学家的政治判断是明智的,首先不是因为他们缺乏“性格”——他们没有拒绝发明核武器,也不是因为他们“天真”——他们不明白这些武器一旦被发明出来,就没有人会就如何使用来咨询他们的意见,而恰恰是因为这样一个事实:他们生活在一个言谈已经丧失力量的世界里,无论人们做什么、认识什么或经验什么,都只有在能被谈论的范围内才有意义。或许存在着超越言谈的真理,或许这些真理对单个人来说非常有意义,即他可以是任何人,只要他不是一个政治的存在。但复数的人(就生活和行动于这个世界上的人们而言)能够体验到意义,仅仅因为他们能够互相交谈,能够听懂彼此和让自己也弄明白。

当然更迫在眉睫的和也许同样重要的,是另一个差不多同样危险的事件:自动化的发明。这个东西在几十年里就使工厂变得空空荡荡,把人类从它最古老最自然的重负——劳动负担和必需性的束缚中解放了出来。在这儿,人类条件的一个根本方面也处于危险之中,不过对这种条件的反抗,以及把人从劳动的“辛苦操劳”中解脱出来的愿望,并不是现代特有的,而是和有记载的人类历史一样古老。摆脱劳动的自由不是一种新的自由,它曾经属于少数人最牢固的特权。就此而言,似乎科学进步和技术发展只不过被利用来达到从前所有时代都梦想过,但没有人能够实现的东西。

不过,这些都只是表面现象。现代已经从理论上完成了对劳动的赞美,并导致整个社会事实上变成了一个劳动者社会。从而这个愿望就像神话故事中的愿望一样,在它实现的那一刻就自我挫败了。这个社会是一个即将从劳动的锁链中解放出来的劳动者社会,并且这个社会不知道还有什么更高级、更有意义的活动存在,值得它去为之争取从劳动中解放出来的自由。这个社会是平等主义的社会,因为人们以劳动的方式共同生活,在这里没有阶级留下来,没有一种带有政治或精神性的贵族留下来,让人的其他能力可以得到保存和更新。甚至总统、国王和总理都把他们的职位看成社会生活必需的一项工作。在知识分子当中,只有孤独的个人把他们正在做的事情当成一项创作,而非一项谋生活动。我们面临的前景是一个无劳动的劳动者社会,也就是说,劳动是留给他们的唯一活动。确实没有什么比这更糟的了。

对于这些当务之急和困境,本书不打算提供一个答案。这样的答案每天都在给出着,而且它们是实践政治的事情,服从于多数人的同意;答案也从来不在于理论考虑或某个人的意见,仿佛我们这里处理的问题能一劳永逸地给出解答似的。我下面打算做的,是从我们最崭新的经验和我们最切近的恐惧出发,重新考虑人的条件。显然,这是一个思想的问题,而无思想——不顾一切地莽撞或无助地困惑或一遍遍重复已变得琐屑和空洞的“真理”——在我看来正是我们时代的特征。因此,我打算做的非常简单,仅仅是思考我们正在做什么。

“我们正在做什么”确实是本书的中心主题。它只处理人类条件的最基本区分,讨论那些传统上,以及按照通行意见,都在每个人力所能及范围内的活动。由于此点和其他原因,人之所能的最高级,或许也是最纯粹的活动——思考活动,就不在当前的考虑范围内。从而本书限于系统地讨论劳动、工作和行动,这三者构成了本书的主要三章。就历史而言,我在最后一章处理现代,对我们从西方历史上所知的、诸活动等级序列的多种概貌的讨论,也贯穿在全书当中。

不过,现代和现代世界还不是一回事。从科学上讲,肇始于17世纪的现代,已于20世纪初终结;从政治上讲,我们今天生活于其中的现代世界,随着第一次原子爆炸而来临。这里我不讨论作为本书写作背景的现代世界。一方面,我把自己局限于对那些一般人类能力的分析上,这些人类能力出自人的条件,因而是永恒的,即只要人类条件本身不改变,它们就不会无可挽回地丧失。另一方面,历史分析的目的是追溯现代的世界异化——人逃离地球进入宇宙和逃离世界返回自我的双重过程——的根源,以达到对这样一个社会之本性的理解:这个社会从它被一个崭新、未知的时代的来临所征服的那一刻起,就开始发展和表现自身了。

原文

In 1957, an earth-born object made by man was launched into the universe, where for some weeks it circled the earth according to the same laws of gravitation that swing and keep in motion the celestial bodies – the sun, the moon, and the stars. To be sure, the man-made satellite was no moon or star, no heavenly body which could follow its circling path for a time span that to us mortals, bound by earthly time, lasts from eternity to eternity. Yet, for a time it managed to stay in the skies; it dwelt and moved in the proximity of the heavenly bodies as though it had been admitted tentatively to their sublime company.

This event, second in importance to no other, not even to the splitting of the atom, would have been greeted with unmitigated joy if it had not been for the uncomfortable military and political circumstances attending it. But, curiously enough, this joy was not triumphal; it was not pride or awe at the tremendousness of human power and mastery which filled the hearts of men, who now, when they looked up from the earth toward the skies, could behold there a thing of their own making. The immediate reaction, expressed on the spur of the moment, was relief about the first “step toward escape from men’s imprisonment to the earth.” And this strange statement, far from being the accidental slip of some American reporter, unwittingly echoed the extraordinary line which, more than twenty years ago, had been carved on the funeral obelisk for one of Russia’s great scientists: “Mankind will not remain bound to the earth forever.”

Such feelings have been commonplace for some time. They show that men everywhere are by no means slow to catch up and adjust to scientific discoveries and technical developments, but that, on the contrary, they have outsped them by decades. Here, as in other respects, science has realized and affirmed what men anticipated in dreams that were neither wild nor idle. What is new is only that one of this country’s most respectable newspapers finally brought to its front page what up to then had been buried in the highly non-respectable literature of science fiction (to which, unfortunately, nobody yet has paid the attention it deserves as a vehicle of mass sentiments and mass desires). The banality of the statement should not make us overlook how extraordinary in fact it was; for although Christians have spoken of the earth as a vale of tears and philosophers have looked upon their body as a prison of mind or soul, nobody in the history of mankind has ever conceived of the earth as a prison for men’s bodies or shown such eagerness to go literally from here to the moon. Should the emancipation and secularization of the modern age, which began with a turning-away, not necessarily from God, but from a god who was the Father of men in heaven, end with an even more fateful repudiation of an Earth who was the Mother of all living creatures under the sky?

The earth is the very quintessence of the human condition, and earthly nature, for all we know, may be unique in the universe in providing human beings with a habitat in which they can move and breathe without effort and without artifice. The human artifice of the world separates human existence from all mere animal environment, but life itself is outside this artificial world, and through life man remains related to all other living organisms. For some time now, a great many scientific endeavors have been directed toward making life also “artificial,” toward cutting the last tie through which even man belongs among the children of nature. It is the same desire to escape from imprisonment to the earth that is manifest in the attempt to create life in the test tube, in the desire to mix “frozen germ plasm from people of demonstrated ability under the microscope to produce superior human beings” and “to alter [their] size, shape and function”; and the wish to escape the human condition. I suspect, also underlies the hope to extend man’s lifespan far beyond the hundred-year limit.

This future man, whom the scientists tell us they will produce in no more than a hundred years, seems to be possessed by a rebellion against human existence as it has been given, a free gift from nowhere (secularly speaking), which he wishes to exchange, as it were, for something he has made himself. There is no reason to doubt our abilities to accomplish such an exchange, just as there is no reason to doubt our present ability to destroy all organic life on earth. The question is only whether we wish to use our new scientific and technical knowledge in this direction, and this question cannot be decided by scientific means; it is a political question of the first order and therefore can hardly be left to the decision of professional scientists or professional politicians.

While such possibilities still may lie in a distant future, the first boomerang effects of science’s great triumphs have made themselves felt in a crisis within the natural sciences themselves. The trouble concerns the fact that the ‘truths’ of the modern scientific worldview, though they can be demonstrated in mathematical formulas and proved technologically, will no longer lend themselves to normal expression in speech and thought. The moment these ‘truths’ are spoken of conceptually and coherently, the resulting statements will be ‘not perhaps as meaningless as a ‘triangular circle,’ but much more so than a ‘winged lion” (Erwin Schrödinger). We do not yet know whether this situation is final. But it could be that we, who are earth-bound creatures and have begun to act as though we were dwellers of the universe, will forever be unable to understand, that is, to think and speak about the things which nevertheless we are able to do. In this case, it would be as though our brain, which constitutes the physical, material condition of our thoughts, were unable to follow what we do, so that from now on we would indeed need artificial machines to do our thinking and speaking. If it should turn out to be true that knowledge (in the modern sense of know-how) and thought have parted company for good, then we would indeed become the helpless slaves, not so much of our machines as of our know-how, thoughtless creatures at the mercy of every gadget which is technically possible, no matter how murderous it is.”

However, even apart from these last and yet uncertain consequences, the situation created by the sciences is of great political significance. Wherever the relevance of speech is at stake, matters become political by definition, for speech is what makes man a political being. If we were to follow the advice, so frequently urged upon us, to adjust our cultural attitudes to the present status of scientific achievement, we would in all earnest adopt a way of life in which speech is no longer meaningful. For the sciences today have been forced to adopt a ‘language’ of mathematical symbols which, though it was originally meant only as an abbreviation for spoken statements, now contains statements that in no way can be translated back into speech. The reason why it may be wise to distrust the political judgment of scientists qua scientists is not primarily their lack of ‘character’—that they did not refuse to develop atomic weapons—or their naivete—that they did not understand that once these weapons were developed they would be the last to be consulted about their use—but precisely the fact that they move in a world where speech has lost its power. And whatever men do or know or experience can make sense only to the extent that it can be spoken about. There may be truths beyond speech, and they may be of great relevance to man in the singular, that is, to man insofar as he is not a political being. Whatever else he may be. Men in the plural, that is, men insofar as they live and move and act in this world, can experience meaningfulness only because they can talk with and make sense to each other and to themselves.

Closer at hand and perhaps equally decisive is another no less threatening event. This is the advent of automation, which in a few decades probably will empty the factories and liberate mankind from its oldest and most natural burden, the burden of laboring and the bondage to necessity. Here, too, a fundamental aspect of the human condition is at stake, but the rebellion against it, the wish to be liberated from labor’s ‘toil and trouble,’ is not modern but as old as recorded history. Freedom from labor itself is not new; it once belonged among the most firmly established privileges of the few. In this instance, it seems as though scientific progress and technical developments had been only taken advantage of to achieve something about which all former ages dreamed but which none had been able to realize.

However, this is so only in appearance. The modern age has carried with it a theoretical glorification of labor and has resulted in a factual transformation of the whole of society into a laboring society. The fulfillment of the wish, therefore, like the fulfillment of wishes in fairy tales, comes at a moment when it can only be self-defeating. It is a society of laborers which is about to be liberated from the fetters of labor, and this society does no longer know of those other higher and more meaningful activities for the sake of which this freedom would deserve to be won. Within this society, which is egalitarian because this is labor’s way of making men live together, there is no class left, no aristocracy of either a spiritual or physical kind from which a restoration of the other capacities of man could start anew. Even presidents, kings, and prime ministers think of their offices in terms of a job necessary for the life of society, and among the intellectuals, only solitary individuals are left who consider what they are doing in terms of work and not in terms of making a living. What we are confronted with is the prospect of a society of laborers without labor, that is, without the only activity left to them. Surely, nothing could be worse.

To these preoccupations and perplexities, this book does not offer an answer. Such answers are given every day, and they are matters of practical politics, subject to the agreement of many; they can never lie in theoretical considerations or the opinion of one person, as though we dealt here with problems for which only one solution is possible. What I propose in the following is a reconsideration of the human condition from the vantage point of our newest experiences and our most recent fears. This, obviously, is a matter of thought, and thoughtlessness—the heedless recklessness or hopeless confusion or complacent repetition of ‘truths’ which have become trivial and empty—seems to me among the outstanding characteristics of our time. What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing. ‘What we are doing’ is indeed the central theme of this book. It deals only with the most elementary articulations of the human condition, with those activities that traditionally, as well as according to current opinion, are within the range of every human being. For this and other reasons, the highest and perhaps purest activity of which men are capable, the activity of thinking, is left out of these present considerations. Systematically, therefore, the book is limited to a discussion of labor, work, and action, which forms its three central chapters. Historically, I deal in a last chapter with the modern age, and throughout the book with the various constellations within the hierarchy of activities as we know them from Western history.

However, the modern age is not the same as the modern world. Scientifically, the modern age which began in the seventeenth century came to an end at the beginning of the twentieth century; politically, the modern world, in which we live today, was born with the first atomic explosions. I do not discuss this modern world, against whose background this book was written. I confine myself, on the one hand, to an analysis of those general human capacities which grow out of the human condition and are permanent, that is, which cannot be irretrievably lost so long as the human condition itself is not changed. The purpose of the historical analysis, on the other hand, is to trace back modern world alienation, its twofold flight from the earth into the universe and from the world into the self, to its origins, in order to arrive at an understanding of the nature of society as it had developed and presented itself at the very moment when it was overcome by the advent of a new and yet unknown age.”

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明德影像
明德影像
明德影像是一座人文档案馆,线下资料馆坐落于地扪书院,致力于数字档案保存与公共教育研究

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