孔子说:“君子不器。”(《论语·为政》)君子在这个世界上不是作为一个容器存在的。容器是什么呢?就是你合格地中规矩地摆在那儿做一份职业而已。

所以,君子的社会角色是变通的、与时俱进的。一个君子重要的不在于他的所为,而在于他所为背后的动机。他们是社会的良心。

我曾经看过十五世纪一个宗教改革家写的一本书,在这本书中他讲了自己青年时代的一个小故事,而这个故事改变了他的一生:

他说有一天他路过一个烈日炎炎下巨大的工地,所有人都在汗流浃背地搬砖。

他去问第一个人说,你在干什么呢?

那个人特别没好气地告诉他,你看不见啊,我这不是服苦役——搬砖吗?

他又把这个问题去问第二个人。这个人的态度比第一个人要平和很多,他先把手里的砖码齐,看了看说,我在砌堵墙啊。

后来他又去问第三个人。那个人脸上一直有一种祥和的光彩,他把手里的砖放下,抬头擦了一把汗,很骄傲地跟这个人说,你是在问我吗?我在盖一座教堂啊。

大家看一看,这三个人做的事情是一模一样的,但是他们给出来的解读却是三个层次:

第一种人的态度我称为悲观主义的态度。他可以把我们所做的每一件事情都看作是生活强加给的一份苦役,他关注的是当下的辛苦,当然这也是确实存在的。

第二种人的态度我称为职业主义的态度。他知道自己在砌一堵墙,这堵墙是一个局部成品,他知道要对得起今天的岗位,要对得起他的一份薪水、一个职务和职称,所以他的态度不低于职业化的底线。这就是孔子所说的“器”的境界,作为一个容器的存在他合格了。但是他没有更高的追求。

而第三种人的态度我称为理想主义的态度。也就是说,他看到眼前的每一块砖,每一滴汗,他都知道这是在通往一座圣殿和教堂。他知道,他的每一步路都是有价值的,他的付出一定会得到最终的成全。此时,他所做的事情绝不仅仅作为一个器皿,而是关系到我们的生命,我们的梦想,关系到我们最终能不能建筑起一座教堂。而同时,因为有了这个教堂梦想的笼罩,也成就了这样一个超出平凡的个体。

由此可见,“君子”这个《论语》中出现最多的字眼,他的道理永远是朴素的,是温暖的,是和谐的,是每一个人可以从当下做的;而那个梦想,那个目标,既是高远的,又不是遥不可及,它其实就存在于当下,也存在于我们每一个人的内心。从这个意义上讲,我们每一个人都可以成为一个真君子。

Advertisements

蓝郁
2007/09/27

从报章上获知,已故著名摄影家叶畅芬的作品,被大量翻印,在牛车水宝塔街的小摊位出售,心头感慨万分。

翻印贩卖这些作品的是叶畅芬的儿子叶文。他对记者说,为了让父亲的摄影佳作能扬名四海,好让更多人看到他生前的杰作,便不惜劳苦地把父亲拍摄的岛国景物翻印,以大众化价格出售。

叶文的用心良苦,也引来不少意见。有人不介意他以行销方式把父亲的作品再次推广给民众和旅客,也有不少人士担心这样会降低其艺术价值。

姑且不谈叶文的出发点是好是坏,我认为文化奖得主叶畅芬的作品,应该得到更高的推崇和最完整的保存。

去年参观了在国家图书馆举行的《叶畅芬回顾展》。那是个做得很全面、很有诚意的摄影展览,让我和关心岛国人文发展的同侪初次接触到这位大师的杰作。

我们惊叹原来本地有位摄影老前辈,坚持自己的信念,用相机记录我国迅速消失的一景一物。尤其欣赏他拍摄的牛车水街景,刻画了上一代人的生活面貌,是很好的历史档案与教材。

叶畅芬是1984年新加坡文化奖四名得主之一,荣衔还包括由美国纽约摄影学会颁发的“当代最杰出摄影师”,当年是个响当当的人物。

然而,两个月的回顾展完毕后,这些作品又回到不起眼的储藏室,等待一个做永久展览的良机。叶文在访谈中说他曾向本地一家艺术馆提出长期展示父亲的代表作的建议,但计划始终无法落实。

我不禁想到本地摄影作品的地位与去留问题。这么多年来,我们的美术馆和画廊都很努力地保存本地画家的著作,尤其是先驱画家之作。

这绝对是值得鼓励的,毕竟这些画作是时间的见证,不仅丰富了我们的人文历史,也是岛国艺术发展很重要的里程碑。

然而,不少杰出摄影师前辈,如叶畅芬的作品却没被任何国家级机构收藏,确实有些遗憾。

或许这其中牵涉了艺术家亲人的决定等问题,不过我还是坚信,好的作品应当有个最舒适的“家”,得到最完善的保存,在最适当的地点给公众展示。

其实岛国不乏摄影人才,近年有不少专业摄影师已在国外闯出一个名堂来。据悉,他们的摄影作品也被国外的艺术馆和画廊添购做永久收藏。

目前正在遴选建筑设计的新加坡国家艺术馆,计划在2012年建成,到时我们又向“文化复兴”跨进一大步。但愿在庞大的展览厅内,观众在欣赏到各媒介的艺术品外,能看到叶畅芬和本地其他摄影家的佳作。我想那肯定是件值得期待且是愉快的事。

刊登于《联合早报》之‘周末论谈’

注:叶畅芬网址 – http://www.yipcheongfun.com

By CORNELIA DEAN
Published: September 27, 2007

A few months ago, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins received an e-mail message from a producer at Rampant Films inviting him to be interviewed for a documentary called “Crossroads.”

The film, with Ben Stein, the actor, economist and freelance columnist, as its host, is described on Rampant’s Web site as an examination of the intersection of science and religion. Dr. Dawkins was an obvious choice. An eminent scientist who teaches at Oxford University in England, he is also an outspoken atheist who has repeatedly likened religious faith to a mental defect.

But now, Dr. Dawkins and other scientists who agreed to be interviewed say they are surprised — and in some cases, angered — to find themselves not in “Crossroads” but in a film with a new name and one that makes the case for intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism. The film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” also has a different producer, Premise Media.

The film is described in its online trailer as “a startling revelation that freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions.” According to its Web site, the film asserts that people in academia who see evidence of a supernatural intelligence in biological processes have unfairly lost their jobs, been denied tenure or suffered other penalties as part of a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of the nation’s laboratories and classrooms.

Mr. Stein appears in the film’s trailer, backed by the rock anthem “Bad to the Bone,” declaring that he wants to unmask “people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can’t possibly touch God.”

If he had known the film’s premise, Dr. Dawkins said in an e-mail message, he would never have appeared in it. “At no time was I given the slightest clue that these people were a creationist front,” he said.

Eugenie C. Scott, a physical anthropologist who heads the National Center for Science Education, said she agreed to be filmed after receiving what she described as a deceptive invitation.

“I have certainly been taped by people and appeared in productions where people’s views are different than mine, and that’s fine,” Dr. Scott said, adding that she would have appeared in the film anyway. “I just expect people to be honest with me, and they weren’t.”

The growing furor over the movie, visible in blogs, on Web sites and in conversations among scientists, is the latest episode in the long-running conflict between science and advocates of intelligent design, who assert that the theory of evolution has obvious scientific flaws and that students should learn that intelligent design, a creationist idea, is an alternative approach.

There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. And while individual scientists may embrace religious faith, the scientific enterprise looks to nature to answer questions about nature. As scientists at Iowa State University put it last year, supernatural explanations are “not within the scope or abilities of science.”

Mr. Stein, a freelance columnist who writes Everybody’s Business for The New York Times, conducts the film’s on-camera interviews. The interviews were lined up for him by others, and he denied misleading anyone. “I don’t remember a single person asking me what the movie was about,” he said in a telephone interview.

Walt Ruloff, a producer and partner in Premise Media, also denied that there was any deception. Mr. Ruloff said in a telephone interview that Rampant Films was a Premise subsidiary, and that the movie’s title was changed on the advice of marketing experts, something he said was routine in filmmaking. He said the film would open in February and would not be available for previews until January.

Judging from material posted online and interviews with people who appear in the film, it cites several people as victims of persecution, including Richard Sternberg, a biologist and an unpaid research associate at the National Museum of Natural History, and Guillermo Gonzalez, an astrophysicist denied tenure at Iowa State University this year.

Dr. Sternberg was at the center of a controversy over a paper published in 2004 in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a peer-reviewed publication he edited at the time. The paper contended that an intelligent agent was a better explanation than evolution for the so-called Cambrian explosion, a great diversification of life forms that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago.

The paper’s appearance in a peer-reviewed journal was a coup for intelligent design advocates, but the Council of the Biological Society of Washington, which publishes the journal, almost immediately repudiated it, saying it had appeared without adequate review.

Dr. Gonzalez is an astrophysicist and co-author of “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery” (Regnery, 2004). The book asserts that earth’s ability to support complex life is a result of supernatural intervention.

Dr. Gonzalez’s supporters say his views cost him tenure at Iowa State. University officials said their decision was based, among other things, on his record of scientific publications while he was at the university.

Mr. Stein, a prolific author who has acted in movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and appeared on television programs including “Win Ben Stein’s Money” on Comedy Central, said in a telephone interview that he accepted the producers’ invitation to participate in the film not because he disavows the theory of evolution — he said there was a “very high likelihood” that Darwin was on to something — but because he does not accept that evolution alone can explain life on earth.

He said he also believed the theory of evolution leads to racism and ultimately genocide, an idea common among creationist thinkers. If it were up to him, he said, the film would be called “From Darwin to Hitler.”

On a blog on the “Expelled” Web site, one writer praised Mr. Stein as “a public-intellectual-freedom-fighter” who was taking on “a tough topic with a bit of humor.” Others rejected the film’s arguments as “stupid,” “fallacious” or “moronic,” or described intelligent design as the equivalent of suggesting that the markets moved “at the whim of a monetary fairy.”

Mr. Ruloff, a Canadian who lives in British Columbia, said he turned to filmmaking after selling his software company in the 1990s. He said he decided to make “Expelled,” his first project, after he became interested in genomics and biotechnology but discovered “there are certain questions you are just not allowed to ask and certain approaches you are just not allowed to take.”

He said he knew researchers, whom he would not name, who had studied cellular mechanisms and made findings “riddled with metaphysical implications” and suggestive of an intelligent designer. But they are afraid to report them, he said.

Mr. Ruloff also cited Dr. Francis S. Collins, a geneticist who directs the National Human Genome Research Institute and whose book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” (Simon & Schuster, 2006), explains how he came to embrace his Christian faith. Dr. Collins separates his religious beliefs from his scientific work only because “he is toeing the party line,” Mr. Ruloff said.

That’s “just ludicrous,” Dr. Collins said in a telephone interview. While many of his scientific colleagues are not religious and some are “a bit puzzled” by his faith, he said, “they are generally very respectful.” He said that if the problem Mr. Ruloff describes existed, he is certain he would know about it.

Dr. Collins was not asked to participate in the film.

Another scientist who was, P. Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, said the film’s producers had misrepresented its purpose, but said he would have agreed to an interview anyway. But, he said in a posting on The Panda’s Thumb Web site, he would have made a “more aggressive” attack on the claims of the movie.

Dr. Scott, whose organization advocates for the teaching of evolution and against what it calls the intrusion of creationism and other religious doctrines in science classes, said the filmmakers were exploiting Americans’ sense of fairness as a way to sell their religious views. She said she feared the film would depict “the scientific community as intolerant, as close-minded, and as persecuting those who disagree with them. And this is simply wrong.”

行星间距

九月 30, 2007

有一小部分人的兴趣是背诵圆周率小数点后的不知多少位数,据说,中国前总理朱容基就能背出小数点后三十位。我是记数目的大白痴,连电话号码和朋友生日都没能记上几个,更不用说去记那圆周率。

没想到在德国还会有数学老师要求学生记下太阳至各个行星的距离,这可真是大苦差。学生们当然没法很好的把它们给记下,老师无奈只好另寻他法。在细心揣摩和推敲之下,这却使得一条著名的原则因而诞生。

首先写下这么个数列:0、3、6 、12、24、48、96、192 …

可以看得出,除了首二两数外,其余的皆是前一数的两倍。然后在每个数上加上4,再除以10,得:

0.4、0.7、1.0、1.6、2.8、5.2、10、19.6 …

大功告成,这就是太阳至太阳系前七大行星的距离(第八行星不适用)。请注意,这太阳到地球的距离是1.0,当今的天文学界就把这1.0的距离当作一个天文单位。

这条定则就叫做体丢斯-波德定则(Titus-Bode law),而那个德国教师就是J.D. Titius。(我一直觉得“体丢斯”这翻译怪怪的,这直接让我想到英文的“deduce”)。

其真正的数学式:

L = 0.4 + 0.3 \times \left( 2^{n} \right)

在这篇文章中,《经济学人》为中国经济的未来打脉——结论是,前景乐观。由于篇幅很长,在这里摘录一些很重要的观点和见解:

NO COUNTRY in history has sustained such a blistering rate of growth over three decades as China. Its economy grew by a staggering 11.9% in the year to the second quarter. Since 1978 it has grown by an average of almost 10% a year—more than Japan or the Asian tigers achieved over similar periods when their economies took off.

So what immediate threats does China face? The biggest worry is that the economy is overheating and inflation surging out of control. In August consumer-price inflation jumped to 6.5%, up from 1.3% a year earlier and its highest for more than a decade. If China slams on the brakes, its economy could suffer a hard landing, as happened after past episodes of inflation.

But inflation is nowhere near previous danger levels in 1988 and 1994, when it soared above 25% . Moreover, the leap in inflation does not seem to be a symptom of overheating caused by excess demand, as it was in the past. It is due entirely to the rise in food prices caused by supply-side problems. Excluding food, inflation is only 0.9%. This does not mean that food is unimportant: it accounts for one-third of the inflation basket, and rising prices could trigger social unrest. But it is not something that China’s central bank can easily fix by raising interest rates.

A second much-talked-about threat is the bursting of China’s stockmarket bubble. Share prices have risen by 400% in just over two years, and average price-earnings ratios based on historic profits are around 50 (based on forecast 2008 profits they are a still-racy 30). Even though almost everyone reckons this is a bubble, history suggests that a bust is not imminent and that share prices could continue to rise for a lot longer: both Japan’s Nikkei and America’s NASDAQ saw p-e ratios well above 100 at their peaks.

Many in China have concluded that the blame for Japan’s economic malaise in the 1990s lay largely with the appreciation of the yen. Beijing has therefore allowed the yuan to rise by only 10% since July 2005. But Japan’s real mistake was its loose monetary policy to offset the impact of the rising yen—which further inflated the bubble—and then its failure to ease policy once the bust had happened. By holding down the value of the yuan and allowing a consequent build-up of excess liquidity, China risks repeating the same error.

A recession in America would reduce China’s growth, but since Beijing’s policy-makers are fretting that the economy is starting to overheat, weaker exports and hence slower GDP growth might be a good thing. Not only would it reduce the risk of inflation, but it would also help to trim China’s embarrassing trade surplus.

If a fall in exports threatens to slow growth by more than desired, the government’s strong fiscal position means that it has plenty of room to boost domestic demand by spending more on infrastructure, education or health. The budget was in small deficit in 2006, but may now be in surplus—even excluding the large surpluses of state-owned enterprises. China’s public-sector debt is only 18% of GDP, much lower than the 75% average in developed economies, giving the government ample room for a fiscal stimulus.

In the short term, therefore, an American downturn is more likely to cause sniffles in China than a heavy cold. Indeed, an American recession might be a blessing in disguise to China: if weaker exports forced the government to do more to boost domestic demand it would help to rebalance the economy and make growth more sustainable in the long run.

The bigger danger is that an American recession would inflame America’s increasingly protectionist mood and make trade sanctions against China more likely. In an election year, politicians will need a scapegoat. But import barriers would do more harm to America’s economy than China’s. If China was forced to depend less on exports and more on consumption it would gain in the long run.

From The Economist
2007/09/27

在最新一期的《经济学人》中,里头阐述了中国和亚洲国家的崛起如何大力地稳定了全球经济。这与西方大国传统上看待那些经济崛起国家的方式不同。在过去,西方大国视经济崛起的国家为威胁和不安因素,然而实际上这些经济崛起的国家平衡了全球过渡依赖美国经济体的困境,为全球经济稳定提供了新的力量。以下是部分摘录:

The good news, however, is that the world has found some powerful new engines in China and other emerging economies. Even as credit markets seize up, a world economy that is less dependent on the United States is more likely to stay aloft.

For several years, emerging Asian economies have accounted for more of global GDP growth than America has. This year China alone will for the first time accomplish the same feat all on its own (at market exchange rates), even if American growth holds up. American consumer spending is roughly four times the size of China’s and India’s combined, but what matters for global growth is the extra dollars of spending generated each year. In the first half of 2007 the increase in consumer spending (in actual dollar terms) in China and India together contributed more to global GDP growth than the increase in America did.

Of course, if America suffers a recession, then Asia’s exports will weaken. But this should not hurt GDP growth too much because other factors should help offset the weakening. It helps that China and most other Asian emerging economies are now exporting more to the European Union than to America. China’s exports to other emerging economies are growing even faster. It helps, too, that domestic spending has strengthened and is likely to stay strong: China, along with most of the rest of Asia, is one of few parts of the world without a housing bubble.

(这里有点很值得关注,《经济学人》从不认为中国出现房屋市场泡沫。在过去,它曾举出了非常好的分析来说明中国离房屋市场泡沫还有相当的距离,而不是如其他人所说的那么严重。事实上,事情是很讽刺的。正当美国和欧洲许多评论家如何叙说中国的房屋市场泡沫,他们自己却爆发了房贷危机。在那之前,《经济学人》却非常有先见之明的提出了,美国自身的泡沫可能比中国的更大。)

Commodity prices, too, will continue to feel the effect of the emerging economies’ increased importance. It is commonly assumed that an American recession would cause a sharp fall in the prices of oil and other commodities. But emerging Asia accounted for two-thirds of the increase in world energy demand over the past five years. So if Asia remains strong, commodity prices should too, and commodity-producing emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia and the Middle East will also continue to thrive.

Not so long ago, the rich world used to regard emerging economies as risky and unstable. That view needs to change: emerging economies now look like a force for stabilising the world economy.

From The Economist
2007/09/27