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侯世达:我宁愿当个独立思考的人,不总是站在人们注意力的最前端

侯世达的生日礼物。这张图由1600幅小图组成,每幅小图都与侯世达所做过的工作有关。图片来源:punya.educ.msu.edu

果壳网:你的朋友丹尼尔·丹尼特说你是最好的“现象学家”,因为你总是在研究自己思维的现象,比如情感、内心活动。多年来,你一直在记录自己犯下的语言错误,能谈谈这些错误和人的思考机制有什么关联吗?记录下了这么多的“自己”,你觉得你比一般人更了解“自己”吗?

查看英文                                       

Guokr: Your friend Daniel Dennett said you are the best “practicing phenomenologist” because you are always studying the phenomena — the feelings, the inside actions — of your own mind.  For so many years you have been recording all your own language mistakes.  Could you please elaborate why such mistakes are relevant to thinking mechanism?  With such a great accomplishment, do you think you “know thyself” better than average people?
 

侯世达:我记录下了大量的输入错误(也就是通常说的“typo”)、说话错误(我称之为“speako”)、听话错误(“hearo”)、动作错误(“acto”)等等。我自己对这批记录贡献最多,因为我是观察最多的人,我的亲朋好友和我教的学生也都(无意中)贡献良多,电台播音员还有餐馆、加油站的路人等等诸如此类的都有贡献。我从16岁起就开始收集这些错误,现在也仍然在扩大我的收集,每天如此,从不间断。

当然,我没有把我自己的所有语言错误都记录下来,因为错误实在太多太多,而且正误之间分隔并不清晰。有时候,一个小小的、几乎听不到的犹疑,或是一处微妙的、几乎无从察觉的元音或辅音扭曲,都反映了我大脑里两股相互竞争的通路在那一刹那间的踌躇。这些现象能算是“错误”吗?虽说在这种犹疑或变形发生的时候,我总是能清晰地意识到它们(还会因其可笑而笑话自己);但在意识层面,我几乎总是对我大脑里相互竞争的力量毫无察觉,因此写下这些微错误(或半错误、拟错误)时,我必须在对背后机制一无所知的情况下把它们记录下来。

查看英文                                       

I have a huge collection of typing errors (which are traditionally called “typos”), speech errors (which I like to call “speakos”), hearing errors (“hearos”), action errors (“actos”), and so forth.  I am the most frequent contributor to this collection, since I am the person I observe the most, but my friends and relatives and students have all made great contributions to it (inadvertently), as have radio announcers and random people in restaurants and gas stations, and so forth and so on.  I started collecting errors when I was about 16 years old, and I am still adding to my collection, just about every day.

Of course I haven’t captured all my own language errors, since there are far too many of them, and also since the boundary between errors and correct usages is anything but precise.  Sometimes a tiny, almost inaudible hesitation or a minuscule, almost imperceptible distortion of a vowel or consonant will reflect a momentary indecision on my part between two competing pathways in my brain.  Are such phenomena errors?  Even when such a hesitation or distortion happens and I consciously hear it (maybe even laughing at myself for its silliness), I am almost always totally unaware, on a conscious level, of the rival forces that are competing in my brain, so when I write down this mini-error (or semi-error or quasi-error), I must do so without any sense of clarity as to what was really going on behind the scenes.

总之,我确实是记录下了成千上万个错误,历时五十年,而我本人是这批数据最大的贡献者。这些错误中有的为探究无意识过程提供了绝好的洞见——50年前我还笃信思维是一种“逻辑机器”,哪里料到过这些过程的存在。没错,在我13岁到19岁那段时期,我是千真万确地相信思考是严密的机械过程,与符号逻辑密切相关。犯错误这等事情和思考毫无瓜葛,至少不存在有意义的瓜葛。那我当时又是为了什么开始收集错误了呢?我不确定;我想最有可能的原因是我觉得它们很好笑,我自己或别人那些意想不到的疏忽常常让我笑出声来。但现在,我对错误的认识恰恰站在了我原来以为的对立面。对现在的我而言,犯错提供了一扇隽妙的窗口,使人得以从科学上一览思考这一神妙莫测的行为那难以察觉的基质。而且我要多说一句,只要我们仔细观察,会发现类比始终都是犯错误背后的元凶。下面我稍作解释。

查看英文                                       

In any case, I do indeed have a collection of many thousands of errors, going back five decades, to which I am the most frequent contributor.  Some of these errors are wonderful insight-givers into unconscious processes whose existence I would never have suspected 50 years ago, when I was a deep believer in the mind as a kind of “logic machine”.  Yes, I truly was convinced, when I was a teen-ager, that thinking was a rigorous, mechanical process closely related with symbolic logic.  Error-making played no role in such a process, or at least no interesting role.  Why, then, did I collect errors back then?  I don’t know for sure; I think it was mostly because they amused me, often making me laugh out loud at my own or someone else’s surprising sloppiness.  But today, my feeling about errors is exactly the opposite of what it was back then.  To me today, error-making provides a marvelous scientific window onto the invisible substrate of the mysterious act of thinking.  And I will add that wherever one looks, one finds analogy is the culprit behind error-making.  Let me explain.
 

假设,我从一家比萨店里出来,拿着一盒新鲜出炉热气腾腾的比萨往家带,我对我的朋友说,“我把比萨放后备箱里带回家”,但我骑的是自行车而不是汽车,这是怎么回事呢?照字面意思理解,我的话根本讲不通,因为自行车根本没有后备箱。我说岔了嘴;用错了词。但这两种情境背后有一个简单的类比,通过灵活理解“后备箱”这个词,我的朋友完全可以听懂我在说什么。在这里,类比的基础将两种交通工具——我的自行车和一辆小轿车——联系起来,更具体地说,将这两种交通工具的两个部分(也即用来装载货物的部分)联系了起来。最后,这个类比里还有一个关键因素,我自行车的篮子就跟小轿车的后备箱一样,是位于“驾驶座”后面的。这个例子显示了错误是如何从难以察觉的下意识类比中出现的,像这样的例子还有很多。

类似的,如果我叫错了某人的名字,那背后一定有类比将这两个人联系起来。这种错误的典型例子是一个男的用前女友的名字称呼现任女友。在这种情况下,其类比不言自明且非常简单,但在其他时候把一个人的名字叫成另一个人的可能就要深层和微妙得多了。

查看英文                                       

If, as I emerge from a pizza parlor with a fresh hot pizza to take home, I say to my friend, “I’ll carry the pizza home in my trunk”, but I’m riding my bike rather than driving a car, what is going on?  Taken literally, my remark makes no sense at all, since my bike has no trunk.  I was confused; I used the wrong word.  But there is a simple analogy behind the scenes, and my friend could understand my errorful remark perfectly clearly by taking the word “trunk” fluidly.  In this case, the analogy’s basis links two vehicles — my bike and a car — and more specifically, it links two parts of the vehicles (namely, parts designed to carry objects), and lastly, a key role is played in this analogy by the fact that my bike’s basket, just like a car’s trunk, is located behind the “driver’s seat”.  This is just one example showing how errors come from hidden, unconsciously made analogies.

Similarly, if I call someone by the wrong name, behind the scenes there is always an analogy that connects the two people involved.  A stereotypical case of this kind of error is the man who calls his new girlfriend by the name of his previous girlfriend.  In such a case, the analogy is self-evident and very simple, but in other cases of calling someone by someone else’s name, it can be much deeper and subtler.
 

就连那些最简单的输入错误也是由某种类比导致的——通常非常简单,但有时也极为复杂。比方说,我的朋友鲍勃(Bob),他在学了一点儿中文以后去了中国,然后有一天他发了封邮件给我讲述他的行程。他打开邮件,输入“Hi hao!”我读到这两个字的时候忍不住笑出了声来。在这个滑稽的错误里,鲍勃无意中将美国人打招呼的“嗨”(Hi)和中文人称代词“你”(Ni)弄混了(因为这两个字在拼写上非常相似——可以类比),而又因为“嗨”(Hi)和“你好”(Ni hao)分别在两种语言中具有可以类比的功能。此外,小写字母的 “h” 和 “n” 长得很像,这一无意识的类比联系或许在鲍勃的思维里也起了作用,尽管他输入的是大写的“H”而不是小写的“h”。还有可能,在鲍勃的脑海中大写“H”的形状和“n”的发音也紧密相关,因为他学过几年俄语,而在俄语中,“H”这个形状发“n”的音。当然,我们不知道、也不可能知道在那一天鲍勃的脑子里究竟发生了什么,使得他犯下了这么一个有趣的错误。但是,有一件事情是可以肯定的:当时出现了一个或更多看不见、摸不着的类比,从而导致了这一看得见的行为。

查看英文                                       

Even the simplest of typos is caused by some kind of analogy — often very simple but sometimes extremely subtle.  For instance, my friend Bob, after learning a little Chinese, went to China, and at one point he wrote me an email to report on his trip.  He opened his email by typing “Hi hao!”  When I read these two words, I couldn’t help laughing out loud.  This is a hilarious error in which Bob unintentionally blended the American greeting “Hi” with the Chinese pronoun “Ni” (because they are very similar — that is, analogous — in terms of their spelling), and because the two phrases “Hi” and “Ni hao” play analogous roles in the two languages.  Moreover, the lowercase letters “h” and “n” look alike, and this unconscious analogical link between the two letters might have played a role in Bob’s mind, even though he typed a capital “H” rather than a lowercase “h”.  It’s even possible that in Bob’s mind, the capital “H” shape and the “n”-sound were closely related because he had studied Russian for several years, and it happens that in Russian, “H” is the shape that stands for the “n” sound.  Of course one doesn’t know, and one can’t know, exactly what was going on inside Bob’s brain on that particular day to give rise to this particular humorous error, but of one thing one can be sure:  there were one or more invisible, unfelt analogies taking place, which led to this piece of visible behavior.
 

这里的关键是,类比在犯错误时具有核心地位——而从这里很容易看到类比在一切思维过程中的中心地位。在过去几十年间,关于一般意义上的思考、和我个人的思考过程,我学到的东西就是:我的思考中充满了错误,而错误都是无意识使用类比导致的——通常都是些简单的类比,但有时非常微妙。我非常高兴能够发现我自己的——以及(通过类比)别人的——这条思考特征,因为这说明人的思维比我十几岁上想的要微妙得多、不机械得多。

讽刺的是,意识到我自己是个错误滔天的家伙令我对人类思维充满了无限的敬仰。因为这表明了人类思维与遵循严格的“推理规则”操纵“命题”从而试图“保持真值”的简化模型相去有多远。那种僵化过时的观点是古代哲学家的空想,但我们现在能够看到它的贫乏和孱弱——相比之下,把思考视为一锅鼎沸的混沌,不计其数的微小进程在其中无意识地竞争、最后得到一个集合的产物,这样的观点要丰富得多。对我而言,这样看待思考是美丽而奇妙的——而又因为我是思考的个体,这也是一种令人愉快的看待自我的方式。不再将我自己视为一台精密严谨的逻辑机器以后,我获得了一种新的认识,把自己当成一台恣意而马虎的类比制造机。我喜欢这种新的认识!

查看英文                                       

The key point here is the centrality of analogy in error-making — and from there, it’s but a stone’s throw to seeing the centrality of analogy in all of thinking.  What I have learned about thinking in general, and about my own thinking in particular, over the last few decades, is how profoundly my thinking is pervaded with errors due to unconsciously made analogies — usually pretty simple ones, but sometimes very subtle ones.  I take great joy in this discovery about myself — and also (by analogy!) about other people — because it shows me that human thinking is far subtler and infinitely less mechanical than I once thought it was, when I was a teen-ager.

Ironically, coming to see myself as a prolific and crazy error-maker has given me enormous respect for thinking, because it shows how distant human thinking is from the simplistic model of just manipulating “propositions” according to strict “rules of inference” that are trying to “maintain truth”.  That rigid and outmoded vision of thought is an ancient dream of philosophers, but we can now see that it is impoverished and feeble, in comparison with a vision of thinking as the collective outcome of a see thing chaos of unconsciously competing tiny processes.  To me, that is a beautiful and wonderful way of looking at thinking — and since I am a thinking being, it’s a delightful way of looking at myself.  In losing the dream of myself as a precise and rigorous logical engine, I have gained a vision of myself as a crazy and sloppy analogy-making engine.  I love it!
 

果壳网:你选择了一条少有人走的研究道路,你感到过孤独吗?万一是你而不是其他人选错了路,该怎么办呢?

查看英文                                       

Guokr: Your research path is the one less traveled.  Have you ever feel lonely, in intellectual ways?  What if it is you, not the others, take the wrong road?
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侯世达:我就是我,我想我已经接受了这点。有时候我觉得世人对我关于思考本质的想法承认得还不够,但我又想起了一些人,我非常尊敬他们,他们也欣赏我的想法,这样的人数量还不少,于是我又心安了。这么多年来我获得了大量的认可,对此我十分满足。我的学校欣赏我,给了我巨大的自由,想开什么主题的讨论课都能开,想写什么主题的书都能写。我其实相当幸运。而且我觉得在少数派这边要比在多数派那边好,因为没有什么比当个“跳马车的”更令我厌烦了——在美国,我们将那些只追求最流行、最潮、最新观点的人称之为“跳马车的”。跳马车是非常愚蠢的做法,我宁愿当个独立思考的人,不总是站在人们注意力的最前端。我觉得不被大多数人注意到没什么不好;但我相信最终我的想法会被更多的人知道。有这点儿盼头就足够了。

至于有没有可能我选错了路,这当然是可能的,但我并不担心这一点。人生苦短,我相信我自己的观点,而且我会捍卫它们。毕竟,俗话说得好,你都不相信自己,谁还会呢?

查看英文                                       

I am who I am, and I guess I just accept it.  Sometimes I feel as if the value of my ideas about the nature of thinking is not sufficiently recognized, but then I remember that there are quite a few people whom I greatly respect and who appreciate my ideas, and at that point I feel all right.  I have had plenty of recognition over the years, and I’m satisfied with it.  My university appreciates me, giving me plenty of freedom to teach seminars on all sorts of topics that I’m interested in, and I can write books on all the topics that interest me.  I’m actually very lucky.  And I think it’s better to be in the minority than in the majority, because nothing could be more boring to me than being a “bandwagon jumper”, as we say in America — that is, somebody who only goes for the most popular, trendy, recent ideas.  Bandwagon-jumping is pretty mindless, and I’d much rather be an independent thinker who isn’t always in the forefront of people’s attention.  Being unnoticed by most people is okay with me.  I’d like to believe that eventually my ideas will be more widely recognized.  That hopeful thought is enough for me.

As for the idea that perhaps I have taken the wrong road, of course it’s possible, but it’s not something that I worry about.  Life is too short.  I believe in my own ideas, and I will stick up for them.  After all, as the old saying goes, if you don’t stick up for yourself, then who will?
 

果壳网:你的人生目标是什么?你有什么遗憾吗?

查看英文                                       

Guokr: What is your ultimate life goal?  Do you have any great regrets?  If yes, what would they be?
 

侯世达:我有终极人生目标吗?我想我的目标是:创造许多绝美的事物。我创作了很多视觉艺术作品(比如变位词和其他一些基于字母的艺术类别),我写过一些钢琴小品;创作这些艺术作品对我意义重大。翻译诗词(尤其是亚历山大·普希金的诗体小说《叶普盖尼·奥涅金》)和写我自己的诗也对我有着很深的意义。最近,跳莎莎舞(还有恰恰舞和摇摆舞)也都美妙至极。当我尽力想要舞得优美时,我或许没有创造什么永恒的东西,但想想仅仅成为美好的事物就已经美妙非常了。当然,我远没有达到我想要的那么精确或优美,但我作为舞者纵然有着这样那样的缺陷,但在空间里随着韵律优雅起舞这件事本身就是无上的欢乐。

我的人生选择中是否怀有遗憾?我不知道。我走自己的路,在路上遇到了许许多多至臻至美的事物——美好的数学图案、美好的类比、美好的物理思想、美好的音乐、美好的字形字母、美好的字谜、美好的诗、美好的小说、各种语言美好的发音、美好的城市、美好的日落、美好的段落、美好的电影、美好的笑、美好的友谊,等等等等。有时候我还自己创造或者发现了美好的事物。真的,那真是太美妙了。如果非要找遗憾,我想我可以说我希望自己更早开始学中文或俄语或莎莎舞。但要是真那么做了,就意味着我必须少做一些其他的事情。我觉得总的来说,我把我的时间用得还好。总之,生命到了我这个阶段,就应该对自己做过的事情知足。人生很不幸充满了各种酸甜苦辣悲欢离合,因此健健康康地活到了我这个年纪(在我写下这些文字的时候是68岁),经历了各种的大悟大美,可谓天之厚矣,何乐而不为呢?

查看英文                                       

Do I have an ultimate life goal?  I guess it would be: producing many things of great beauty.  I have done lots of visual art (for example, ambigrams and some other types of letter-based art), and I have composed some small piano pieces, and creating all those artistic things has meant a great deal to me.  Also translating poetry (especially Alexander Pushkin’s novel-in-verse Eugene Onegin) and writing my own poetry have been deeply meaningful to me.  And more recently, dancing salsa (and some chacha and some swing) have been fantastically exciting things.  I may not be creating anything eternal when I try to dance gracefully, but simply being something beautiful is a wonderful sensation.  Of course, I’m not nearly as graceful or precise as I’d like to be, but despite all my lacks as a dancer, the sensation of moving beautifully and rhythmically through space is almost without equal in terms of pleasure.

Do I have regrets about my choices in life?  I don’t know.  I’ve followed my own pathway and in so doing have run across many, many things of enormous, deeply moving beauty — beautiful mathematical patterns, beautiful analogies, beautiful ideas in physics, beautiful pieces of music, beautiful letterforms and alphabets, beautiful plays on words, beautiful poems, beautiful novels, beautiful sounds in various languages, beautiful cities, beautiful sunsets, beautiful photographs, beautiful movies, beautiful smiles, beautiful friendships, and on and on.  Sometimes I even have created or discovered beautiful things myself.  Really, that is a wonderful thing.  If I am looking for things to regret, I suppose I could say that I wish I had started learning Chinese or Russian or salsa-dancing earlier, but if I had done that, then I would have done something else less.  I think that overall, I’ve used my time pretty well.  All in all, I think at my stage in life, one should just be satisfied with what one has done.  Life unfortunately has all sorts of crazy twists, and so if one lives healthily to my age (68, as I write these words) and if one has experienced tremendous, enriching beauty of many sorts, then one is pretty lucky and has many reasons to be happy.
 

 

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发布于2014-03-06, 本文版权属于果壳网(guokr.com),禁止转载。如有需要,请联系果壳

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