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时势”盖“英雄

(2009-11-21 21:37:14)
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杂谈

分类: 杂文
Lost in the Crowd(e-c)practice

Lost in the Crowd
时势”盖“英雄/世”盖"英雄


By DAVID BROOKS
Published: December 15, 2008

All day long, you are affected by large forces. Genes influence your intelligence and willingness to take risks. Social dynamics unconsciously shape your choices. Instantaneous perceptions set off neural reactions in your head without you even being aware of them.

  一天到晚你都受到巨大势力的影响。基因会影响你的智商、去冒险的程度;社会动态无意识中决定了你的选择;瞬时的感知不知不觉中触发了你的头脑中神经反应。

Over the past few years, scientists have made a series of exciting discoveries about how these deep patterns influence daily life. Nobody has done more to bring these discoveries to public attention than Malcolm Gladwell.

  过去数年,科学家们在这些深层模式如何影响日常生活方面取得了一系列令人兴奋的发现。Malcolm Gladwell在将这些发现引起大众关注意上所做的工作超过任何人。

Gladwell’s important new book, “Outliers,” seems at first glance to be a description of exceptionally talented individuals. But in fact, it’s another book about deep patterns. Exceptionally successful people are not lone pioneers who created their own success, he argues. They are the lucky beneficiaries of social arrangements.

  Gladwell重要的一本新书《不凡者》乍看上去似乎是在描述那些拥有非凡才华个体。可是事实上,它还是一本关于"深度模式”的书籍。作者认为异常成功的人们并不是创造出自己成功的孤独的先锋,而是社会安排中的幸运受益者。

As Gladwell told Jason Zengerle of New York magazine: “The book’s saying, ‘Great people aren’t so great. Their own greatness is not the salient fact about them. It’s the kind of fortunate mix of opportunities they’ve been given.’ ”

  Gladwell告诉纽约杂志Jason Zengerle:"这本书所讲的是‘伟人并不伟大。他们的伟大并不是他们自身的突出而是由于他们被给予了种种机会的幸运组合“

Gladwell’s noncontroversial claim is that some people have more opportunities than other people. Bill Gates was lucky to go to a great private school with its own computer at the dawn of the information revolution. Gladwell’s more interesting claim is that social forces largely explain why some people work harder when presented with those opportunities.

  Gladwell的一个没有引来争议的主张是有一些人比另一些人拥有了更多的机会。比尔盖茨有幸在信息化革命黎明上了一所拥有自己的计算机的优秀私立学校。Gladwell更有趣的一个主张是社会力量解释了当拥有这些机会时为什么有些人会更加努力。

Chinese people work hard because they grew up in a culture built around rice farming. Tending a rice paddy required working up to 3,000 hours a year, and it left a cultural legacy that prizes industriousness. Many upper-middle-class American kids are raised in an atmosphere of “concerted cultivation,” which inculcates a fanatical devotion to meritocratic striving.

  中国人之所以勤奋是因为他们在一个围绕着稻田建立的文化中长大。种一块稻田需要一年3000小时的劳作,留下的是一份奖励勤劳的文化遗产。许多中上阶级的美国儿童在一个”协调一致培养”的环境中培养,这根植了一种款热的精英式努力的追求。

In Gladwell’s account, individual traits play a smaller role in explaining success while social circumstances play a larger one. As he told Zengerle, “I am explicitly turning my back on, I think, these kind of empty models that say, you know, you can be whatever you want to be. Well, actually, you can’t be whatever you want to be. The world decides what you can and can’t be.”

  在Gladwell的叙述中,说明成功的原因时个人特点不及社会环境的作用大。正如他告诉Zengerle的一样:”显然我是在背叛我认为的那些空洞标语,例如:你可以成为任何人。事实上,你无法成为任何一个自己希望成为的人。世界决定你能成为谁、不能成为谁“

As usual, Gladwell intelligently captures a larger tendency of thought — the growing appreciation of the power of cultural patterns, social contagions, memes. His book is being received by reviewers as a call to action for the Obama age. It could lead policy makers to finally reject policies built on the assumption that people are coldly rational utility-maximizing individuals. It could cause them to focus more on policies that foster relationships, social bonds and cultures of achievement.

  和过去一样Gladwell聪明地捕捉到了一个更大的思维潮流--文化模式、社会传播性、大脑模仿(memes)越来越多地被给予重视。他的书被评论家们看做是奥巴马时代的一个召唤,可能让政策制定者最终拒绝那些假设人们是刻板、理智地最大化潜能的个体的政策,而让他们更多关注于能巩固关系、社会粘合度以及成功文化上。

Yet, I can’t help but feel that Gladwell and others who share his emphasis are getting swept away by the coolness of the new discoveries. They’ve lost sight of the point at which the influence of social forces ends and the influence of the self-initiating individual begins.

  然而,忍不住地我会认为Gladwell和那些认同他的观点人们被新发现的好处冲昏了头脑。他们已经失去了判断在社会影响力和个人主动影响力之间的”临界点“。

Most successful people begin with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so. They were often showered by good fortune, but relied at crucial moments upon achievements of individual will.

  多数成功人士的出发点中有两个信念:未来会比现在更好,我能够让它实现。虽然他们经常是福星高照,但在关键时刻要依靠的还是个体意志力上成功。

Most successful people also have a phenomenal ability to consciously focus their attention. We know from experiments with subjects as diverse as obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers and Buddhist monks that people who can self-consciously focus attention have the power to rewire their brains.

  多数成功人士还具有将意识集中注意力的卓越本领。从对强迫证到佛教和尚作为主体的试验中,人们了解到能将自我有意识地集中注意力的人们有改变大脑的力量。

Control of attention is the ultimate individual power. People who can do that are not prisoners of the stimuli around them. They can choose from the patterns in the world and lengthen their time horizons. This individual power leads to others. It leads to self-control, the ability to formulate strategies in order to resist impulses. If forced to choose, we would all rather our children be poor with self-control than rich without it.

  控制注意力是终极个人力量。那些能做到这点的人们不会成为周围刺激的囚犯。他们能从世界上的模式中进行选取并延长它们的时间跨度。这样的一种个体力量能带来其它东西。它会产生出自控--一种为了抵制冲动而制定出策略的能力。如果可以选择,人人都宁愿自己的孩子生来贫穷却具有自控而不是生来富有缺乏自控。

It leads to resilience, the ability to persevere with an idea even when all the influences in the world say it can’t be done. A common story among entrepreneurs is that people told them they were too stupid to do something, and they set out to prove the jerks wrong.

  注意力控制会产生出毅力--即便世界上一切影响力都说这不可能完成时,带着一个想法去坚持的能力。一个发生在企业家们身上的普遍故事是人们告诉他们笨得无法有所作为,可他们却开始证明那些蠢人是错误的。

It leads to creativity. Individuals who can focus attention have the ability to hold a subject or problem in their mind long enough to see it anew.

Gladwell’s social determinism is a useful corrective to the Homo economicus view of human nature. It’s also pleasantly egalitarian. The less successful are not less worthy, they’re just less lucky. But it slights the centrality of individual character and individual creativity. And it doesn’t fully explain the genuine greatness of humanity’s outliers. As the classical philosophers understood, examples of individual greatness inspire achievement more reliably than any other form of education. If Gladwell can reduce William Shakespeare to a mere product of social forces, I’ll buy 25 more copies of “Outliers” and give them away in Times Square.

  注意力控制会产生出创造力。能将注意力集中的那些人们拥有将一个话题或问题保留在头脑中足够长久的时间从而能获得了看待它新眼光的能力。

  Gladwell的社会宿命论是对人性的经济学人(Homo economicus)观点的有益补充。它包含了一些平均主义。不算太成功的人并不是价值少,只不过运气少罢了。但是Gladwell的看法轻蔑了以个体个性为核心及个体的创造力。而且它没有完全解释出人类中那些不凡者身上的真实伟大。正如经典哲学家的观点,个体伟大的例子比任何形式的教育都会更有把握带来成就。如果Gladwell能将莎士比亚仅仅归于社会力量的产物,那么我会再买25本《不凡者》然后就去时代广场发书。

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