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勒高夫与“长中世纪”
勒高夫选择从“历史分期”这个大问题入手思考。中国读者对历史分期问题不会感到陌生。在作为一门现代学科的中国史学走向形成的过程中,古史分期问题一度扮演了核心角色。共和国“十七年”史学的“五朵金花”中,分期问题居首,而且与另外两朵金花(“中国封建土地所有制形式问题”与“中国资本主义萌芽问题”)密切关联。

可能与他的盛期中世纪视角有关,在《分期》中,勒高夫没有论及与他的主题密切相关的另一项传统分期“晚期中世纪”(大致1350—1500年)及其当代学术史,我们不妨在这里简略地加以补充

给予“长15世纪”这个晚期中世纪与文艺复兴的重叠时段以专门的关注:并非因为期间发生了重大的历史断裂,而是这个时段自身或许具有某些区别于之前的盛期中世纪与之后的早期现代的独特历史气质。

他生平最富学术原创性的两大论断刚好反映了这种张力。一是“时间”的发现。勒高夫认为,中世纪欧洲的最大发明是一种在经济和思想的双重意义上支配和管理时间的意识,而这种意识构成了西方现代文明的基石。二是“民间文化”。在他看来,中世纪基督教文化的主流并非以规整的拉丁语著作和高深的神学思想为代表的高级“教士文化”,而是一种诉诸口头流传、缺乏严格的教义和仪程规范、充满怪力乱神的流行文化。

尽管这个概念本身极少被当代法国学者接受和使用(包括勒高夫)。如今,“早期现代”与“古代晚期”(Late Antiquity)一同构成了英美欧洲史学界最热门的两大领域。
history  historiography  middle-age  europe  early-modern  français  concept  debate  Renaissance  west  book  buy 
10 days ago by aries1988
There really is no natural or right way to be a parent | Aeon Essays

Children, Bowlby said, need a secure attachment to a primary caregiver, most commonly the mother, or they will suffer dire consequences such as an inability to start and maintain social relationships or even a variety of mental illnesses.
To test the types of attachment around the world, the American-Canadian psychologist Mary Ainsworth in 1970 devised a measuring tool – the Strange Situation. A mother and baby are in the room together but, after a while, someone the baby doesn’t know (the stranger) asks the mother to leave. The baby’s reaction upon the mother’s return decides the type of attachment. The ‘securely attached’ baby cries as the mother leaves but lets herself be calmed down quickly by the stranger; she is also happy when the mother returns.

That’s why Blaffer Hrdy revised Bowlby’s notion of attachment. Children, she said, could bond with multiple caregivers throughout their lives, yet experience no added anxiety or psychological problems as a result. In fact, she remarks on one very positive aspect of modern parenting that’s available in many European countries: affordable daycare. She asks me about my own experiences, and I launch into a passionate praise of the institution after seeing my own three children thrive in Dutch daycare. I agree with her: I could not have done it by myself. So-called alloparents, whether in the form of wider family members or daycare workers, matter.

But this truth gets overlooked because ‘it doesn’t fit into the narrative of the natural’. Instead, we prefer to cherrypick our parenting approaches to feed our biases. Natural parenting has more to do with how we want to be than with how we actually are.
parenting  critic  theory  kid  emotion  debate  best 
10 days ago by aries1988
Let a Thousand Mulans Bloom

The intention was apparently to create a mythic version of China, analogous to Black Panther’s Wakanda, but many fear a slurry of incongruous iconography devoid of meaning.

I’ve seen online criticism of this mythic approach that likens it to other examples of diaspora culture, like General Tso’s chicken, as well as jokes about how producers shouldn’t have hired set designers from Chinatown. But what underpins these quips is the idea that the diaspora has had its Chineseness corrupted by Western society, that diaspora cultures with their own real histories are no longer “authentic.”

The danger of a mythic mashup of Chinese culture is thus less that it is historically inaccurate and more that it reiterates the idea constantly pushed by the Chinese government—that there is an ancient and eternal Chinese nation-state. It turns the “One China” policy into mythology. It isn’t so much pandering that I fear but the idea of a flattering of very modern—and exclusive—ideas about Chinese identity rather than one that interrogates and reinvents them.

For all its songs and wise-cracking dragons, it also reframes Mulan’s story as one of struggling to meet parental expectations, a sense of alienation from one’s wider culture, and self-discovery in disguise, all of which resonated with the diaspora audience.

somewhere along the process the diaspora was cut out of the conversation. That’s visible in Mulan’s surname, which is now written and pronounced as Hua (Mandarin) and not Fa (Cantonese).
diaspora  chinese  american  entertainment  movie  classic  female  warrior  question  debate  disney  critic 
4 weeks ago by aries1988
Four Flavors of Doom: A Taxonomy of Contemporary Pessimism - Quillette

According to Mahbubani, this enormous improvement in the human condition is a result of Western ideas and practices—modern science, liberal democracy, free markets—spreading to other societies.

Looking beyond their specific concerns, it is possible to identify four prototypical kinds of pessimism. Each has a different take on the course of human history, but all share a general skepticism about the idea of progress.

Right-wing declinists romanticize a time when people (especially the young) were still obedient towards authority and tradition, while their left-wing counterparts imagine a time in which solidarity and mutual trust were still widely cherished values.

Bad people can do bad things, but an apocalyptic mindset can encourage even good people to do bad things.

The French sociologist Bruno Latour, a former postmodern critic of science who has found a second calling in climate alarmism, sounds this note of despair in his book Down to Earth: The war is over, and we have probably lost it.

concept of progress—of the continual betterment of the human condition through the application of science and the spread of freedom
the methods of science, free markets, and liberal democracy provide our best hope of succeeding
progress  debate  enlightenment  pessimism  analysis  today  west  future  crisis  disaster 
5 weeks ago by aries1988
豆瓣 | 请收起你的厌港症&蠢的并不是香港青年 – 中国数字时代

最近名为赵皓阳的作者写了一篇题为《香港这座城市还有救吗》的文章,在中国内地广为流传。作者在浸会大学读过一年制的研究生,他形容香港学生“幼稚病”、跟“用爱发电”的台湾人一样“蠢”,批评香港学生会“假民主”,港生不懂殖民历史,香港基础教育质量比不过内地,学生质素“不足以在一个大市场中与大陆青年竞争”。同时,他认为香港社运是民众被蛊惑,“受西方价值观冲击”,上街游行可以获得“虚伪的满足感”,其实是用肉身在供养资本家。他表示,除了他,香港无人意识到地产问题才是香港真正的威胁。

以前港英政府不給香港民主,並不能合理化現在北京不給香港民主這個事實。文章只是用一個邏輯錯誤去攻擊另一個懷念港英的蠢學生的邏輯錯誤。

當年我學的高中化學,在反應速率、化學平衡那部份,課本沒有涉及平衡常數的概念,只有一個定性的描述,而香港DSE課程必修平衡常數。生物相比內地生物課程深度和廣度多的簡直不是一星半點。只有物理,香港課程雖然涉及面更廣,但題目確實更簡單些。

為甚麼香港房價這麼貴?殖民地時期,香港的土地歸英女王所有。所有私人發展的土地,都是從政府手上租到的。政府限制土地開發,人為地提高了地價,名義上,政府就可以有足夠的資金發展該土地上的配套基礎設施。1997年,香港房價到了高點,然而在亞洲金融風暴以及之後非典等的打擊之下,在2003年到了最低點。那時百業凋敝,再加上一些政治原因,觸發了03年50萬人七一大遊行。隨後,政府叫停了土地開發拍賣等,中央又開了自由行為香港輸血,香港房價得以恢復。在08金融海嘯之後,全球放水,又刺激香港房價連漲十年,已經大幅超過97年水平。香港房價如此高,既有政策因素,又有環球經濟因素。
hongkong  debate  expat  comparison  education  explained  immobilier 
7 weeks ago by aries1988
回应赵皓阳:知识错漏为你补上,品性问题还需你自己努力|广场|端传媒 Initium Media

最近名为赵皓阳的作者写了一篇题为《香港这座城市还有救吗》的文章,在中国内地广为流传。作者在浸会大学读过一年制的研究生,他形容香港学生“幼稚病”、跟“用爱发电”的台湾人一样“蠢”,批评香港学生会“假民主”,港生不懂殖民历史,香港基础教育质量比不过内地,学生质素“不足以在一个大市场中与大陆青年竞争”。同时,他认为香港社运是民众被蛊惑,“受西方价值观冲击”,上街游行可以获得“虚伪的满足感”,其实是用肉身在供养资本家。他表示,除了他,香港无人意识到地产问题才是香港真正的威胁。

从文章看来,赵的知识体系用一句话就可以概括:“所有问题的根源都是资本家吸血普通人”。如果要再复杂一点,那么不是“教育出了问题”,就是“年轻人太蠢被煽惑”,三板斧来回使用。而政治体制在他眼中有如不存在。

赵先生此文的问题不是他知识太匮乏,而是品性太差。用他的话来讲,他不是“蠢”,是“坏”。这种“坏”意在撩拨内地已有的“仇港”情绪,用虚构故事和错误事实制造中港矛盾。不仅如此,赵还在文章里流露出对精英阶层深深的向往(尽管他本人并不在列),和对普通人追求更好生活的鄙夷。这种“社会达尔文主义”思想的传播,从源头上试图抹去普通人抗争及争取权利的合法性。用赵先生的理论来讲,他所做的事,是在替权力和资本压榨普通人。知识问题我们可以为他补上,品性问题还需要他自己努力。

1985至1988年是台湾反公害运动和环保运动快速兴起的时期,当时的环保和反核人士中也有不少是民主运动的支持者,因此环保及反核力量也被视为对威权政府的挑战。这些挑战国民党的“党外人士”在1986年组成“民进党”,环保和反核是为党纲。

台湾公民社会不断针对能源转型进行不同论述、攻防,并无台湾人如同赵文所述“相信真的用爱可以发电”。当赵文指出,“更惊讶的是,这在台湾还真普遍有人买账,还真很多人觉得用爱发电这个概念好”时,其实台湾读者也很惊讶赵文有这种惊讶——这样理解一个口号,不是曲解,就是愚痴。

香港地产霸权的问题来自殖民时代的政商结构,而中国在香港回归后仍拒绝改革香港的殖民地式官商勾结政经结构,特首选举制度、立法会中的“功能组别”的设计,都是维持这一结构的具体表现,商界向来偏建制、支持政府决策,垄断的庞大资本力量与政治权力结合,成为最难打破的天花板。

中国恰恰是香港“双轨”土地制度的学习者。和土地私有的地方不同,香港土地所有权归政府所有(港英遗留)。港府通过售卖​​土地在规定期限的“使用权”予土地开发者或使用者,也就是内地所熟悉的“卖地”。

这是公民与政府之间一个复杂、多元的博弈过程。市民运用了民间宣传、网络联署、和平游行示威、非暴力不合作运动等多元方式,一起向政府表达民意。当然,香港相对成熟的公民社会也助力不少,这次不少教会和牧师、专业组织、行业协会也参与其中,人们尝试用各种新的方式进行连结。这不是乱,是人们在互动、连结、组织、发声。

如果有人看到这里还是不屑一顾,大概是觉得这些绝食行动看上去都没有“出事”,绝食者依然“安全”。这么想的人,请扪心自问自己的良心和人性去了哪里。牺牲当然不是一件必然的事,任何人也没有资格要求别人牺牲,抗争是表达反对观点的形式,而不是满足变态看客的一场好戏。

从写法上,这篇文章确实具备如今内地舆论场上常见的爆款文特点:一个耸动的标题、“我有一个朋友”式难辨真伪的举例、东拼西凑的数据和口语化的语言。这些都和备受争议的“咪蒙体”如出一辙。文章的文字粗劣,经不起推敲,但能在第一时间把握住大众的情绪。

内地大众本来就因为信息差无法了解到香港反送中游行的全貌,相关新闻只能在互联网的角落中流窜,在这样的时机,突然出现一篇洋洋洒洒几千字分析香港局势的文章,且作者传递的观点其实与自己曾接触过的观点相似,颇能给人一种恍然大悟之感,自然在墙内赚得了顶级流量。

赵先生的思路既把经济发展列为重中之重,又堵死普通人选举、游行的权利,这与中国执政者的思路如出一辙。1989年之后,“发展才是硬道理”成为被宣扬的价值观,经济发展成了政权合法性的来源。按照这个思路,经济发展最后落到普通人身上,只剩下一个选项:努力赚钱。

努力赚钱当然没有错,但背景是赵先生所讲的房地产资本家吸血,这意味著如赵先生所说年轻人(无论是香港的还是内地的)再努力也买不起房。那么努力赚钱为的是什么呢,为的是给资本家打工。赵先生的这套思路和价值观绕了一圈,就是为了忽悠普通人。
explained  debate  china  today  social-network  thinking  hongkong  youth  propaganda  buzz  2019 
7 weeks ago by aries1988
Gauls, gilets jaunes and the fight for French identity

# the roman national
The British used to read Our Island Story — the hoary best-seller whose chronicling of stirring events and great men and women from Albion to Queen Victoria introduced generations of schoolchildren to history. (David Cameron once claimed it was his favourite childhood reading.) Across the Channel, books like the so-called Petit Lavisse did much the same thing, recounting the whole great sweep of what the French term the roman national from the days of the Gaulish general Vercingetorix to the French Revolution and its aftermath.
Historians once found it natural to tell stories that were designed to imbue their countrymen with pride.
“Whatever your ancestors’ nationality, young Frenchmen and women, at the moment you become French, your ancestors are the Gauls and Vercingetorix.”

In 1987 historian Suzanne Citron published an important essay on “the national myth” in which she deconstructed the assumptions behind the traditional narratives then commonly taught in schools.
The purpose was to show how France’s past could not be understood except within a larger context — global, we might call it today — in which ideas and people and goods flowed across borders and shaped one another.

Alain Finkielkraut, self-appointed guardian of the old story, and himself recently on the receiving end of anti-Semitic abuse from gilets jaunes, denounced the authors as “gravediggers of the great French heritage”.

Gaul being — in a favourite nationalist phrase — the “eldest daughter” of Rome

Countries prosper, so the message runs, when they welcome strangers (like the Armenian refugees who gave France Charles Aznavour) and they suffer from the consequences of their own narrow-mindedness.

Now it is not the book’s gleeful dismantling of the récit national that is under attack, but rather its purported underplaying of a long history of inequality and its consequences.
there are real problems with reading globalisation back into the past, not least because trade in general, and foreign trade in particular, was simply far less important as a part of economic life in earlier times than it is today
a more militant, provincial and insurgent history of burdens and privileges.
separate communal and local activism from outright xenophobia

The limitations of the nationalist narrative have been exposed. But what is the alternative? To abandon narrative altogether, in favour of the episodic and the vignette?
is it best replaced by a multitude into which we can dip at will? The idea of a past that is shared may then slowly slip entirely from view.
historiography  debate  narrative  world  nationalism  français  france  history  2019  book  society  conflict  manif  macron  globalization  opinion 
april 2019 by aries1988
刘擎:2018西方思想年度述评(观念/文化篇:自由主义之死与智识争论复兴)
【編者按】本文為華東師範大學劉擎教授自2003年起所撰之「西方思想年度述評」系列第16年作品下篇,首發於《騰訊·大家》欄目,略去部分內容和全部文獻註釋。完整印刷版將在《學海》雜誌發表。端傳媒經作者及《騰訊·大家》授權刊發,以饗讀者。

令人憂慮的是「自由主義造就了現代世界,但現代世界正在背離自由主義」。如果要復興自由主義的活力,必須反省它失去活力的多種成因。在社會經濟方面,需要反省自由主義崇尚的「優績制」(meritocracy)競爭對造成貧富差別與社會固化的影響。在文化方面,檢討「身份政治」的局限,在正當回應族群歧視的過程中,沒有防止它演變為「宗派憤怒」的傾向。在國際與地緣政治方面,自由派也沒有足夠的智慧和勇氣來捍衞「二戰」後形成的同盟和自由制度體系。在政治上,當政的自由派已經變得越來越保守,傾向於維持現狀,而完全忘記了自由主義最初的激進立場。

沃森的觀點可能在政治上不正確,但如果在科學上是真實的呢?難道科學真理應當屈從於政治正確的管制嗎?

回應這種鏗鏘有力的質疑其實並不困難,而且可以斬釘截鐵:沃森的這種觀點首先在科學上錯誤的(雖然他是一位科學大師),因為在生物學意義上,「種族」類別(白人、黑人、黃種人等)並不存在,這早已是學術界的普遍共識。

社會生活中使用的種族分類,是文化和政治塑造的概念(所謂「社會建構」),並不具有對應的生物學依據。這是目前生物學和人類學界的主流觀點,已經有大量的研究證據支持,也有許多相關的科普作品傳播。

萊克認為不應當迴避研究不同人群(populations)之間的遺傳差異。他明確反對一種流行的誤解:由於人類來自共同的祖先,人群相互分離的時間不久,不足以在自然選擇壓力下形成重要的遺傳差異。「但這不是事實」,他指出「東亞人、歐洲人、西非人和澳大利亞人的祖先(直到最近為止)幾乎完全相互隔絕了4萬年或更長的時間,足以讓進化力量發生作用」。人群之間的遺傳差異不僅客觀存在,而且會影響某些遺傳疾病、特定的身體性狀甚至行為和認知能力在人群之間的概率性差異。

研究人群遺傳差異是一把雙刃劍:在很多情況下它會揭露「種族」概念的虛假性,瓦解絕大多數的刻板印象,但遺傳學的發現也有可能會確證某些刻板印象。在這種情況下,科學發現的隻言片語會被某些願意信奉種族主義觀點的人用來證明自己正確。恰恰因為存在這種可能性,萊克才要在文章中直面這個問題。

美國大學招生同樣以「擇優錄取」為主要原則,反映了美國的「優績制」(meritocracy)的價值取向,但其公平原則也包含對弱勢群體的「補償正義」觀念,突出體現於「平權法案」(Affirmative Action,又譯作「肯定性措施」)。此外,還會兼顧「文化多樣性」的目標,可能會考慮校園的「族裔平衡」(racial balancing)。擇優錄取、補償正義和文化多樣性,這三重維度之間存在張力,每個大學有自己側重與應對策略。
summary  read  2018  west  intelligentsia  journalism  liberalism  opinion  race  usa  debate  polemic  university  elite  policy  scientist 
february 2019 by aries1988
Steven Pinker on slavery and the Enlightenment - Marginal REVOLUTION
Early modern Europe, including its later manifestation of the Enlightenment, brought great benefits to the world. Part of those benefits involved enhanced capacities. Some of those enhanced capacities were used to do great evil
a more complicated mood toward progress

I would note also that so many of the most radical abolitionists, including in Britain, were Christians.

Pinker's critics argue that the world was better before Europe and its enlightenment values took off. They point to slavery as evidence of this.
Pinker argues that slavery was a common place institution before and after the enlightenment and it is largely enlightenment ideas that motivated it being abolished.
debate  enlightenment  world  slavery  history  progress 
february 2019 by aries1988
Two Roads for the New French Right | by Mark Lilla | The New York Review of Books

Unlike her hotheaded grandfather and aunt, Marion is always calm and collected, sounds sincere, and is intellectually inclined.

In countries as diverse as France, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Italy, efforts are underway to develop a coherent ideology that would mobilize Europeans angry about immigration, economic dislocation, the European Union, and social liberalization, and then use that ideology to govern.

a new legal status, dubbed a pacte civil de solidarité (civil solidarity pact, or PACS), for long-term couples who required legal protections regarding inheritance and other end-of-life issues but did not want to get married.

While it’s true that fewer and fewer French people baptize their children and attend mass, nearly two thirds still identify as Catholic, and roughly 40 percent of those declare themselves to be practicing, whatever that means. More importantly, as a Pew study found last year, those French who do identify as Catholic—especially those who attend Mass regularly—are significantly more right-wing in their political views than those who do not.

The National Front is nearly as secular and even less ideologically coherent, having served more as a refuge for history’s detritus—Vichy collaborators, resentful pieds noirs driven out of Algeria, Joan of Arc romantics, Jew- and Muslim-haters, skinheads—than as a party with a positive program for France’s future. A mayor once close to it now aptly calls it the Dien Bien Phu right.

They share two convictions: that a robust conservatism is the only coherent alternative to what they call the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of our time, and that resources for such a conservatism can be found on both sides of the traditional left–right divide. More surprising still, they are all fans of Bernie Sanders.

Three months later her Institute of Social, Economic, and Political Sciences (ISSEP) opened in Lyon, with the aim, Marion said, of displacing the culture that dominates our nomadic, globalized, deracinated liberal system. It is basically a business school but will supposedly offer great books courses in philosophy, literature, history, and rhetoric, as well as practical ones on management and political and cultural combat.
reportage  politics  interview  france  conservatism  culture  ideology  conflict  globalization  crisis  morality  family  value  debate  instapaper_favs 
december 2018 by aries1988
何谓“欧洲文明”?

陈乐民、周弘认为,促进欧洲社会发展和进步的文明,主要是指:以求真善美的希腊思想为源头的哲学、伦理学和美学;重视社会效能的政治学、经济学、法学;凝合人生、人性、人格至善本性的基督教精神;探索宇宙,改造自然,造福人类的科学实践。

马克思在分析希腊和罗马建立殖民地根源时非常精辟的一段论述:“在古代国家,在希腊和罗马,采取周期性地建立殖民地形式的强迫移民是社会制度的一个固定环节。这两个国家的整个制度都是建立在人口的一定限度上的,超过这个限度,古代文明就有毁灭的危险。……由于生产力不够发展,公民权要由一种不可违反的一定数量对比关系来决定。那时,惟一的出路就是强迫移民。”这种贸易和殖民的过程,也是希腊人开始走向文明的过程。
LOL

西欧文明之所以有深厚、持久的历史文化传统和创造性活力,其根本原因在于:西欧进入文明社会以来,在特定历史条件下,它经历了约两千五百年的奴隶制社会,一千多年的封建制社会,近四百年的资本主义社会,这些社会形态及其历史阶段都得到比较充分的发展,而且西欧文明在各历史阶段,又善于从周边的诸多外部文明中吸纳、摄取优秀文化成果,才使自身得以发展、壮大。
FRD Norbert Elias

刘文明认为,“文明”观念在欧洲经历了一个演变过程,它源于中世纪宫廷社会的“宫廷礼仪”,经文艺复兴时期的“礼貌”,最终于18世纪中叶出现“文明”这一名词,到19世纪发展成为具有“现代”意涵的“文明”概念。在这一过程中,通过自诩为“文明”群体的“自我”与被贬低为“野蛮”群体的“他者”之间的互动,欧洲人对“文明”的认知及自我“文明”的认同得到强化,并将“文明阶梯”的空间序列时间化,以欧洲经验为基础的“文明”概念被建构起来。
2000s  book  academia  chinese  europe  civ  origin  debate  greek  emigration  antiquity 
october 2018 by aries1988
Jared Diamond: ‘Humans, 150,000 years ago, wouldn’t figure on a list of the five most interesting species on Earth’

It was a painful thought for someone who recalled being told, by an admiring teacher at his Massachusetts school, that one day he would “unify the sciences and humanities”. Clearly, he needed a larger canvas. Even so, few could have predicted how large a canvas he would choose.

1997’s Guns, Germs and Steel – which ask the most sweeping questions it is possible to ask about human history.

Diamond, who describes himself as a biogeographer, answers them in translucent prose that has the effect of making the world seem to click into place, each fact assuming its place in an elegant arc of pan-historical reasoning.

Why? Because 8,000 years ago – to borrow from Guns, Germs and Steel – the geography of Europe and the Middle East made it easier to farm crops and animals there than elsewhere.

vicious jousting between Diamond and many anthropologists. They condemn him as a cultural imperialist, intent on excusing the horrors of colonialism while asserting the moral superiority of the west.

In person, Diamond is a fastidiously courteous 77-year-old with a Quaker-style beard sans moustache, and archaic New England vowels: “often” becomes “orphan”, “area” becomes “eerier”. There’s no computer: despite his children’s best efforts, he admits he’s never learned to use one.

What changed, Diamond argues, was a seemingly minor set of mutations in our larynxes, permitting control over spoken sounds, and thus spoken language; spoken language permitted much of the rest.

It won a Pulitzer prize and has sold more than 1.5m copies in 36 languages. Mitt Romney quoted it admiringly in his 2012 presidential campaign, garbling its message entirely.

he found himself accused of “geographic determinism”: in his critics’ opinion, his arguments squeeze out any role for human agency and decision-making, thereby sparing history’s colonisers – and today’s elites – any responsibility for having created our grotesquely unjust world.

Each of the two books has the unusual distinction of having another book dedicated largely to demolishing it: Yali’s Question, which offers a different answer from Diamond’s New Guinean acquaintance, and Questioning Collapse, which calls the Easter Island “ecocide” a myth.

Whenever I hear the phrase ‘geographic determinism’,” he says, “I know I’m about to waste time discussing with someone who has no right to be discussing [how human societies developed]. Because the fact is that geography has a strong influence on humans. It doesn’t determine everything, but it has a strong influence
bio  book  leader  human  development  inequality  world  history  biology  environment  debate  theory  geography  opinion 
october 2018 by aries1988
‘Why Nations Fail’

the geography hypothesis

our revisionist take on the Neolithic Revolution, based on the idea that sedentary life and social complexity came before farming, suffers from a complete absence of evidence when in fact it is now the conventional wisdom amongst archaeologists.

Diamond suggests that, by eschewing geographic determinism, our theory is as if institutions appeared randomly.

our book explains how institutional variation today is largely a systematic outcome of historical processes

characteristics of diamonds and oil notoriously promote corruption and civil wars more than do characteristics of iron and timber.

Although their letter describes institutional variation today as a systematic outcome of historical processes, much of their book is actually devoted to relating story after story purportedly explaining how institutional variation developed unsystematically and at random, as a result of particular events happening in particular places at critical junctures.

cannot account for differences in prosperity today, which are huge within Eurasia

Acemoglu and Robinson are correct that the timing of the Neolithic Revolution doesn’t account for prosperity differences within Eurasia today;
theory  debate  inequality  world  economy 
october 2018 by aries1988
Stretch Genes

the genomes of various human beings fall into several reasonably well-defined clusters when analyzed statistically, and these clusters generally correspond to continent of origin. In this statistical sense, races are real.

To Wade, the implications are big. While behavioral differences among races would surely be subtle, they can, he insists, become amplified at the level of entire societies. Slight differences in behavioral predisposition—to cooperation, aggression, trust, propensity to follow rules, and so on—probably pushed different races in directions that led to different social institutions. Indeed the seeds of difference between the world’s great civilizations were perhaps present from the first settlements.

the evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker. (Evolutionary psychologists, while acknowledging that human behavior has a partly genetic basis, generally assume that all people share the same predispositions. They then try to explain these human universals.)

This sends Wade into paroxysms of righteous indignation and he declares that whether or not a thesis might be politically incendiary should have no bearing on the estimate of its scientific validity. What Wade doesn’t tell you is that this is what Pinker himself says in his very next sentence: The fact that a hypothesis is politically uncomfortable does not mean that it is false, but it does mean that we should consider the evidence very carefully before concluding that it is true.
book  critic  gene  human  race  biology  political  opinion  debate  society  evolution  racism 
october 2018 by aries1988
Paul Bloom on Cruelty – Econlib
I think that's one of the biggest mistakes we make about morality. I think that the reality is that fully appreciating someone's humanity opens up so many positive things--you can't be human without it; you can't have a decent relationship. It's the foundation of love, and friendship. But, it carries with it so many terrible risks. Really loving somebody, really knowing somebody opens up the possibility for love; but it also opens up the possibility for hatred.

we need to respect the fact that often we had no bad intentions and we will be right; and yet we can appreciate that our own small acts when accumulated makes people's lives miserable. And so we should stop these small acts.

The first point is that the robots are probably sentient. I mean, it's impossible to know. It's the standard, you know, undergraduate dormitory argument at 2 in the morning, how can I know you're conscious? How can you know that I'm conscious? But, these robots are of such sophistication, complexity, it beggars belief that they don't have feelings.
utilitarianism  human  cruel  thinking  movie  culture  debate  mind  other  love  family  morality  anger  incel  mob  robot 
october 2018 by aries1988
The Clash of Ignorance

Samuel Huntington’s article "The Clash of Civilizations?" appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs, where it immediately attracted a surprising amount of attention and reaction
to supply Americans with an original thesis about "a new phase" in world politics after the end of the cold war,

Certainly neither Huntington nor Lewis has much time to spare for the internal dynamics and plurality of every civilization, or for the fact that the major contest in most modern cultures concerns the definition or interpretation of each culture, or for the unattractive possibility that a great deal of demagogy and downright ignorance is involved in presuming to speak for a whole religion or civilization. No, the West is the West, and Islam Islam.

Instead of seeing it for what it is–the capture of big ideas (I use the word loosely) by a tiny band of crazed fanatics for criminal purposes–

what is so threatening about that presence? Buried in the collective culture are memories of the first great Arab-Islamic conquests, which began in the seventh century and which, as the celebrated Belgian historian Henri Pirenne wrote in his landmark book Mohammed and Charlemagne (1939), shattered once and for all the ancient unity of the Mediterranean, destroyed the Christian-Roman synthesis and gave rise to a new civilization dominated by northern powers (Germany and Carolingian France) whose mission, he seemed to be saying, is to resume defense of the "West" against its historical-cultural enemies.

These are tense times, but it is better to think in terms of powerful and powerless communities, the secular politics of reason and ignorance, and universal principles of justice and injustice, than to wander off in search of vast abstractions that may give momentary satisfaction but little self-knowledge or informed analysis
muslim  debate  islam  terrorism  power  community  civ  conflict  europe  population  theory  leader  instapaper_favs 
october 2018 by aries1988
人类社会的差异是由基因决定的吗?
他的目标是“正视种族在基因层面的差别,探究人类较晚近时期的进化对历史以及人类社会特质有怎样的揭示。”他的结论是:种族不但真实存在,而且不同种族在基因层面也有常人意想不到的差异。
韦德的主要观点是:人类晚近时期所发生的进化导致不同族群在基因层面出现差异,并进而表现出不同的社会行为。这些在社会行为上的细微差异可以解释为何不同族群所建立的社会制度大相径庭

在对人们的基因组进行统计分析后,相同族群的人的基因组会在一个聚类中,每个聚类又对应一个大洲。种族在这样的统计学意义上是真实存在的。

韦德如此论述道:一旦人类进入定居生活,富人的孩子比穷人的孩子存活的机会大,所以,让富人成为富人的行为之基因将得以传播。因而通过这种自然选择,“精英的某些社会行为将得以逐渐向全社会扩散”。

不同族群在行为倾向(如合作,攻击行为,信任,遵守规则)上丝毫的不同都可能会让各个族群做出不同选择,建立不同的社会制度。“世界上伟大文明之间的差异可能自各文明发源之初便已显现。”

韦德无法做出区分的是:说政治上的敏感性不应当歪曲科学真理当然没错,是事实就是事实;然而,正如平克尔所指出,这不意味着我们可以毫无顾忌地谈论种族问题。历史告诉我们,这是个尤其危险的问题,围绕这个问题的讨论曾经导致了巨大的灾难。认识到这一点并且做到小心翼翼并非什么不科学。
genetics  society  civ  human  debate  race 
september 2018 by aries1988
访谈|彭慕然:中国为什么这么大?

《东方历史评论》:在您的著作中,我注意到您很强调两个因素,一个是环境因素,另一个是制度因素,您怎样看待环境与制度之间的关系呢?对于以道格拉斯·诺斯为代表的制度经济学派的观点(当然也包括赵鼎新教授对您的批判)您怎么看呢?

彭慕然:诺斯提出的“制度经济学”概念非常的重要,但是它过于狭隘,甚至于有些过于僵化。我认为,这种僵化(包括你提及过的赵的观点)在于毫无道理地认为,在各种情况下,相同类型的制度都是最理想的。从可以在现实世界抽象出理论模型的经济学角度看 ,你当然可以认为,一系列的制度运作可以应对各种情况,但是现实情况并不是这样。《大分流》尤其想要说明的是,在一定情况下,一系列的制度运作可以发挥作用,但是在其他情况下,这样的制度则不行。

中国在长期的统治中意识到,要比较充分地维持北方边境的成本非常高,仅凭华北的财力物力,根本无力承担。维持边境所需的军队规模、首都的规模都远远超出了华北所能产出的农业剩余(agricultural surplus)

如果你在18世纪初或18世纪50年代问那些汉人士大夫,新疆、蒙古、东北甚至像云南的部分山区,都能说是你所处世界的一部分吗?他们会说:当然不是

我认为新清史的缺点在于,他们能够解释为何清朝可以在1683年至1759年将版图扩大了两倍,但却无法解释那些区域在清朝走向衰落以后,为何依然是中国的一部分。要理解这个问题,你需要了解汉人精英阶层为何会认为,那些地方是国家的一部分。这种观点并不是自然而然就出现的。
qing  book  nation  mentality  china  comparison  economy  england  debate  research  theory 
september 2018 by aries1988
The evidence is in: there is no language instinct – Vyvyan Evans | Aeon Essays
Our brains really are ‘language-ready’ in the following limited sense: they have the right sort of working memory to process sentence-level syntax, and an unusually large prefrontal cortex that gives us the associative learning capacity to use symbols in the first place. Then again, our bodies are language-ready too: our larynx is set low relative to that of other hominid species, letting us expel and control the passage of air. And the position of the tiny hyoid bone in our jaws gives us fine muscular control over our mouths and tongues, enabling us to make as many as the 144 distinct speech sounds heard in some languages.
brain  language  baby  biology  research  linguist  debate  theory  gene 
september 2018 by aries1988
中产阶级轻松 社会没有未来:评《作为中产我对国家有哪些不满》
房价除了反映土地稀缺度,更反映基础建设水平。中国人都知道炒房要炒地铁房,说明即便是有投机心态,房价也得和基建投资挂钩。但问题在于,中国的城市基建不是天上掉下来的,不是全世界殖民地养的,不是世界大战的财富买单的,很大程度上是我们在一代人的时间里快速造出来的。这笔投资让目前享用城市基建的人口买单,是唯一的出路。

在一个大多数家庭都意识到教育重要性的年代,在一个阶层流动还非常明显的年代,中产阶级——从你的描述看,其实是顶层中产,占人口5%以内——要保持住自己的教育优势,本来就要比下面的人多花一些力气,多承受一些成本。

中产之所以是中产,有两种可能。一是在快速增长的经济体内,提供产业升级过程中稀缺的技术劳动和知识,从增量中获得超出平均水平的工资。另一种中产在稳定乃至停滞的经济体内,占据垄断性技术和人脉,用或明或暗的“编制”来凭空“制造稀缺”,维持远超平均水平的工资。这第二种中产,其实就是封建时代末期的小地主,清朝中期的盐业分销商,19世纪末的奴隶种植园打手,对生产力发展是绊脚石而不是推进剂。对于这种社会集团,我读书时的课本有一个简洁明了的描述:

反动
state  middle-class  china  today  debate  shenzhen 
august 2018 by aries1988
The End of ‘Civilisation’
The new program is best understood as a kind of delayed rebuttal, sometimes quite explicit, to Clark and his view of history.

An example of his method was a book the gallery published called 100 Details from Pictures in the National Gallery. Clark wanted to draw the attention of untutored viewers to specific elements in each work and place them alongside similar details from other works, with the aim of building up knowledge and interest piece by piece, element by element.

There was no stinting on travel either. By the time they were through Clark and crew had visited 118 museums and 117 other locations in 11 countries.

It was television of an intensified kind, meant to seduce a mass audience.

An act or piece of art that is life-enhancing—that allows us to have life, and to have it more abundantly—is civilized; one that isn’t isn’t.

The Greco-Roman ideal, he says, was “without doubt the most extraordinary creation in the whole of history.” It was nearly lost with the sacking of Rome—by barbarians, did he mention?—in the 5th century and then barely survived the advance of Islam in the 8th. It lay dormant, tended by monks, until the millennium, when it began to manifest itself in a variety of ways in Europe.
civ  art  politics  debate  west  documentary  2018  1969  bbc  uk 
august 2018 by aries1988
赵鼎新:加州学派与工业资本主义的兴起
笔者强调的是经济行动者的特性,以及与军事和经济竞争相关联的机制的重要性;笔者同时强调以私利为导向的工具理性成为可被正面价值观是工业资本主义兴起中的一个关键。

反事实思维在历史分析中按说是破坏目的论思想的利器,但实际上,它更多地被用来制造另一种奇思幻想的目的论,在其中,某一因素被无限地从历史情境中抽离、拔高,成为历史进程的主要推动力。

儒家学者则更多地将儒家思想视为道德体系而非超验真理。当李贽表达他的非正统的观点时,它引起的是李贽和与他交好的耿定理的哥哥耿定向之间带有私人性质的争论。主流儒生更感兴趣的是掌握理学经义以通过科举考试,而不是这种辩论。明朝中央政府甚至没有插手其间。

中国的城市仍有不同于欧洲城市的几个关键方面。最明显的是,中国的城市从来没有拥有过自治的政治和法律地位,并且它们也没有像中世纪一些获得特许状的城镇或自由城镇那样拥有属于自己的军队。因此,研究中国城市的学者都承认政治和行政命令对中国城市的命运有着决定性的影响。

面对国家的政治主宰和理学思想的统治地位,明清商人非常热衷于让他们的孩子接受儒家教育,取得科举功名并致仕。他们与地方官员建立密切的关系,并且与仕宦家族联姻。他们为政府征收税款,并且介入乡镇治理活动。他参与地方慈善活动,仿效士人的生活方式,旨在获取尊重与信任,并使得商业活动能更顺利开展。然而,这些经济行动者无法构建诸如自由主义或“看不见的手”这样的非正统的价值观来为他们的经营性行为正名,而且他们必须严格隶从官府。这些都显示了中国经济行动者的弱势,更进一步表明在西方到来之前工业资本主义很难在中国自发地崛起。

由于商业发展和繁荣,中国的富庶地区有着较高的生活水准,然而,明清时候的中国,技术创新并没有鼓励性的回报,理论/形式理性极不发达;最重要的是,新儒家意识形态没有面临重大的挑战,而商人无法利用他们的财富来获取政治、军事和意识形态方面的权力从而抗衡国家的权力。与欧洲情况不同的是,晚期中华帝国维持灿烂的商业的原因不是新儒家世界的衰弱和资产阶级力量的崛起,而是帝国庞大的领土和人口所带来的巨大市场和王朝中期特有的长期政治稳定。当欧洲人在19 世纪持着现代武器抵达中国时,中国并没有走向工业革命而是走向王朝的衰落。中国并非自发地迈入现代化,而是被西方和日本帝国主义拖入到工业化和现代化的历史进程当中。
debate  china  qing  ming  capitalism  modernity  society  state  question  europe  confucianism  to:pdf 
july 2018 by aries1988
A critique of Eric X. Li’s “A tale of two political systems” | TED Blog
Apart from the political pressures that tend to channel answers in a particular direction, another problem is that Chinese respondents sometimes view taking a survey as similar to taking an exam.

Li has not provided a coherent and logical argument for his positions on democracy. I suspect, although I do not have any direct evidence, that there is a simple modus operandi — endorsing reforms the CCP has endorsed and opposing reforms that CCP has opposed. This is fine as far as posturing goes but it is not a principled argument of anything.
debate  politics  china  party  democracy  autocracy 
july 2018 by aries1988
What Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” Gets Right About Japan | The New Yorker
Anderson is a white, non-Japanese director, but had he not been interested in the power dynamics behind translation, and instead made a twee fever dream imitating Japanese aesthetics, “Isle of Dogs” would have looked and sounded a lot different. His commitment to showing the daily rhythms of a living, breathing Japanese people reveals itself not only in his cast of twenty-three Japanese actors but in his depictions of how exactly a Japanese TV-news anchor transitions to a new topic (“This is the next news”), what milk cartons for elementary schools look like (labelled “extra-thick”), or how a couple of scientists might celebrate—with a clink, “Yo—oh!,” and a clap. The film invites a kinship with a viewer who will find these banalities familiar, and lets these moments flow by, unnoticed, for those who do not.
movie  japan  culture  language  translation  debate  power 
may 2018 by aries1988
The False Allure of Group Selection | Edge.org

I want to point out a potentially important example of group selection that Pinker overlooks: human languages. The function of language is to build communities and groups, as I have argued in many places. If an individual lacks the ability to talk, he or she will still survive. But a group of Homo sapiens that cannot talk will not be competitive with another group that can.

Dawkins, for instance, opines in the opening pages of The Selfish Gene, "We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.... a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness. This gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behavior.... Anything that has evolved by natural selection should be selfish."
gene  debate  evolution  concept  groupe  biology  human  society  to:marginnote 
april 2018 by aries1988
The Case Against Civilization
We don’t give the technology of fire enough credit, Scott suggests, because we don’t give our ancestors much credit for their ingenuity over the long period—ninety-five per cent of human history—during which most of our species were hunter-gatherers.

To demonstrate the significance of fire, he points to what we’ve found in certain caves in southern Africa. The earliest, oldest strata of the caves contain whole skeletons of carnivores and many chewed-up bone fragments of the things they were eating, including us. Then comes the layer from when we discovered fire, and ownership of the caves switches: the human skeletons are whole, and the carnivores are bone fragments. Fire is the difference between eating lunch and being lunch.

Anatomically modern humans have been around for roughly two hundred thousand years. For most of that time, we lived as hunter-gatherers. Then, about twelve thousand years ago, came what is generally agreed to be the definitive before-and-after moment in our ascent to planetary dominance: the Neolithic Revolution. This was our adoption of, to use Scott’s word, a “package” of agricultural innovations, notably the domestication of animals such as the cow and the pig, and the transition from hunting and gathering to planting and cultivating crops.

His best-known book, “Seeing Like a State,” has become a touchstone for political scientists, and amounts to a blistering critique of central planning and “high modernism,” the idea that officials at the center of a state know better than the people they are governing. Scott argues that a state’s interests and the interests of subjects are often not just different but opposite.

The big news to emerge from recent archeological research concerns the time lag between “sedentism,” or living in settled communities, and the adoption of agriculture.

The evidence shows that this isn’t true: there’s an enormous gap—four thousand years—separating the “two key domestications,” of animals and cereals, from the first agrarian economies based on them.

It was the ability to tax and to extract a surplus from the produce of agriculture that, in Scott’s account, led to the birth of the state, and also to the creation of complex societies with hierarchies, division of labor, specialist jobs (soldier, priest, servant, administrator), and an élite presiding over them.

The web of food sources that the hunting-and-gathering Ju/’hoansi use is, exactly as Scott argues for Neolithic people, a complex one, with a wide range of animal protein, including porcupines, kudu, wildebeests, and elephants, and a hundred and twenty-five edible plant species, with different seasonal cycles, ecological niches, and responses to weather fluctuations.

The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy.
history  culture  agriculture  debate  human  choice  farming  animal  book  opinion 
april 2018 by aries1988
Hearing Poland’s Ghosts

The enormity of these events, combined with the suppression of basic truths about them, meant that their legacies were preserved covertly by their various inheritors, all with their own adamant loyalties and wrenching recollections, and that Poland in the postwar period became a place of often conflicting and fervently defended forms of collective memory.

a declaration that Polish history should be as much a part of the European historical imagination as, say, French or German history has been for educated citizens of the advanced world.

What had almost entirely vanished from collective memory was the fact that before World War II, Jewish and non-Jewish communities had coexisted in Poland for ten centuries, in a relationship that included phases of tension and benign indifference, of spiritual separateness and mutually advantageous commerce, of ideological anti-Semitism and what might be called multiculturalism avant la lettre.

more than 154,000 people, most of them civilians, lost their lives

His well-informed answer is given in a tone of almost trembling emotion, difficult to imagine among adolescent visitors to, say, the Imperial War Museum in London.

to insert the experiences of Poland and east-central Europe into Europe’s and the world’s historical memory.

As for the future of Poland’s cultural institutions, Kerski says that much depends on what might be called the civic courage of individuals in opposing repressive policies, as well as on the credibility of the European Union.
jew  poland  museum  history  today  ww2  memory  instapaper_favs  debate 
march 2018 by aries1988
Who Killed More: Hitler, Stalin, or Mao? | by Ian Johnson | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

Their most prominent spokesperson is Sun Jingxian, a mathematician at Shandong University and Jiangsu Normal University. He attributes changes in China’s population during this period as due to faulty statistics, changes in how households were registered, and a series of other obfuscatory factors. His conclusion: famine killed only 3.66 million people. This contradicts almost every other serious effort at accounting for the effects of Mao’s changes.

According to Chang, Mao was responsible for 70 million deaths in peacetime—more than any other twentieth-century leader.

The peacetime adjective is significant because it gets Hitler out of the picture. But is starting a war of aggression less of a crime than launching economic policies that cause a famine?

How, finally, does Mao’s record compare to those of Hitler or Stalin? Snyder estimates that Hitler was responsible for between 11 million and 12 million noncombatant deaths, while Stalin was responsible for at least 6 million, and as many as 9 million if foreseeable deaths caused by deportation, starvation, and incarceration in concentration camps are included.

If one includes the combatant deaths, and the deaths due to war-related famine and disease, the numbers shoot up astronomically. The Soviet Union suffered upward of 8 million combatant deaths and many more due to famine and disease—perhaps about 20 million.

As for Hitler, should his deaths include the hundreds of thousands who died in the aerial bombardments of Germans cities? After all, it was his decision to strip German cities of anti-aircraft batteries to replace lost artillery following the debacle at Stalingrad.

Mao didn’t order people to their deaths in the same way that Hitler did, so it’s fair to say that Mao’s famine deaths were not genocide—in contrast, arguably, to Stalin’s Holodomor in the Ukraine, the terror-famine described by journalist and historian Anne Applebaum in Red Famine (2017). One can argue that by closing down discussion in 1959, Mao sealed the fate of tens of millions, but almost every legal system in the world recognizes the difference between murder in the first degree and manslaughter or negligence. Shouldn’t the same standards apply to dictators?

By contrast, Mao himself and his successors have always realized that he was both China’s Lenin and its Stalin.

In Xi’s way of looking at China, the country had roughly thirty years of Maoism and thirty years of Deng Xiaoping’s economic liberalization and rapid growth. Xi has warned that neither era can negate the other; they are inseparable.
comparison  dictator  leader  china  soviet  nazi  history  today  death  disaster  famine  numbers  research  narrative  mao  debate  ethic 
february 2018 by aries1988
Why did we start farming?
What if the origin of farming wasn’t a moment of liberation but of entrapment? Scott offers an alternative to the conventional narrative that is altogether more fascinating, not least in the way it omits any self-congratulation about human achievement.

The perfectly formed city-state is the ideal, deeply ingrained in the Western psyche, on which our notion of the nation-state is founded, ultimately inspiring Donald Trump’s notion of a ‘city’ wall to keep out the barbarian Mexican horde, and Brexiters’ desire to ‘take back control’ from insurgent European bureaucrats.
CPR 都市帝国 宫崎市定

His account of the deep past doesn’t purport to be definitive, but it is surely more accurate than the one we’re used to, and it implicitly exposes the flaws in contemporary political ideas that ultimately rest on a narrative of human progress and on the ideal of the city/nation-state.

domesticated goats had begun to eat up the local vegetation – the first step to today’s barren landscape.

although farming would have significantly increased mortality rates in both infants and adults, sedentism would have increased fertility. Mobile hunter-gatherers were effectively limited by the demands of travel to having one child every four years. An increase in fertility that just about outpaced the increase in mortality would account for the slow, steady increase in population in the villages.

Collapse could mean nothing more than the abandonment of the centre and the redistribution of the population into independent settlements, to be followed by the next cycle of annexation.

According to Scott, the period of early states was the Golden Age for the barbarians.
book  agriculture  human  debate  evolution  question  civ  idea  invention  destiny  whatif  history  origin  state  read  instapaper_favs 
february 2018 by aries1988
元清非中國論 - 维基百科,自由的百科全书

至明朝末期,「中國」一詞已經有著約三千年的使用歷史,最早只是作為一種地域專屬名稱,專指中原地區,此「國」意為「地域」,同「南國」、「北國」用法。後來隨著大一統思想的發展和鞏固[註 1],「中國」逐漸成為正統朝代的標誌性稱呼,例如宋金對峙時期,金國為表示正統,往往自稱「中國」。

清朝以前,「中國」兩字并不曾被作為任何某一個朝代的專屬名稱。自清入主中原、代明而立以來,清政府以中華正朔自居,開始以「中國」自稱其全部統治區域[11]。

1689年,中俄兩國簽訂《尼布楚條約》,國體意義上的「中國」首次正式出現在國際法條約文件上[13]。《尼布楚條約》是中國第一次與歐洲國家按照國際法原則、以對等方式談判達成的平等條約,該條約也被指是最早明確使用「中國」一詞來指代大清的國際法文件。條約中的「中國」指蒙古和中國東北在內的整個清帝國[14]。

矢野仁一認為,中國不能稱為所謂的民族國家,又宣稱滿、蒙、藏等原來就非中國領土,表示如果要維持大中國的同一性,那就根本沒有必要推翻清王朝,如果要建立民族國家,則應當放棄邊疆地區的控制,包括政治上的領屬和歷史上的敍述[5]。

徐明旭亦表示把國家與民族混為一談的觀點不見於國際法上,指出“蒙古民族”與“中國”是兩個概念,根據國際公法,民族與國家是完全不同的兩個概念,又引用比喻駁斥相關論調:「假如有人在美國聲稱:美國的愛爾蘭、猶太人等都不是美國人,只有盎格魯-撒克遜裔才是美國人,他一定會遇到麻煩,甚至被斥為種族主義者。中國像美國一樣,也是個多民族國家,有五十六個民族,為什麼漢族以外的民族就不算中國人呢?」[37]

1912年,清政府發布《大清國皇帝退位詔書》,宣布:「總期人民安堵,海宇乂安,仍合滿、漢、蒙、回、藏五族完全領土,為一大中華民國」,簡稱「中國」的中華民國繼承了大清國的全部領土、主權,以及自《尼布楚條約》以來,多個邊界條約規定的國界。二次大戰後,中華民國根據《開羅宣言》和《波茨坦公告》收復了被日本佔領的中國東北、台灣、澎湖以及南海諸島,同時外蒙古獨立。後來中華人民共和國在習慣線與條約線的基礎上,與其鄰國簽訂了一系列的邊界條約,確立了現在的領土範圍[66]。
debate  historiography  china  history  mongolia  manchuria  today  japan  historian  ethnic  state 
january 2018 by aries1988
梁文道:給「一部分」讀者的回覆

把一些黨政機構的通知和命令看作是一種「聲音」,然後將一些反對這些通知的民間意見看成是另一種不同的聲音,似乎要以此說明中國社會其實也是一個正常的多元現代社會,這是近幾年我在許多中國時局討論當中常常看到的思路。我非常懷疑,這樣子說話的人是不是太不懂得「國情」,把自己當成「外賓」了?
china  today  debate  government  society  expression  essay  freedom 
december 2017 by aries1988
West grows wary of China’s influence game

“The party under Xi [Jinping] believes it is engaged in a ‘huayu zhanzheng’ — a ‘discourse war’ — with the west, which it thinks enjoys media hegemony and must be challenged,” says David Shambaugh, director of the China policy programme at George Washington University.

He estimates China spends between $10bn and $12bn a year on a wide range of “soft power” efforts — from traditional lobbying and public relations campaigns to more clandestine forms of influence-building.

“The Chinese Communist party is seeking to suppress dissent among its diaspora in countries around the world,” says Rory Medcalf, head of the national security college at Australian National University. “It uses a tapestry of methods to achieve its goals: political donations, control of Chinese language media, mobilising community and student groups; and engaging in coercive activities that involve CCP proxies and even consular officials.”

Defenders of these initiatives say Beijing merely wants to “tell China’s story well” and is acting no differently from western countries. The US government supports organisations that fund pro-democracy groups around the world, while Washington-based think-tanks have international affiliates that promote an American world view.

“The Communist party’s United Front work is very different from western efforts to exert influence — there is a degree of long-term planning and central co-ordination between public and nominally private enterprises that democracies can’t even imagine,”
china  today  politics  debate  strategy  world  competition  democracy 
december 2017 by aries1988
【林忌书评】 《中国洼地︰一部内亚主导东亚的简史》
所谓「中国」的历史,只是内亚地区的游牧民族,一次又一次征服东亚的「被殖民」的历史,由战国秦国赵国的胡服骑射、五胡十六国北朝的鲜卑蛮族入侵与统治,以至五代十国由契丹大辽、金国与蒙古征服宋朝等,在「中国历史上」近千年即一半时间,都是外族入侵统治,作者刘仲敬称之为「蛮族替代模型」。

作者指「貌似落后」的内亚可主导东亚,则是地理因素,即内亚位于两河流域文明中心,而骑马的游牧民族可以骑马自由流通,刘仲敬的观点认为,内亚把先进的技术与秩序,一面向东带到东亚,一面向西带到波兰草原的欧洲,亦因此「中国」长期都「被迫西化」与「胡化」,早在英清之间的「鸦片战争」之前,早已发生了;刘仲敬甚至以此推论,共产主义入侵中国,也是源于上述相同的模式。

民族主义其实是拿破仑战争的产物,在此之前的族群与部族,能否如作者以「国际化」或「输出革命」等副题目来说明,也有很大的争议。
book  china  history  opinion  idea  debate  middle-asia  civ 
december 2017 by aries1988
Hans Rosling, physician and statistician, 1948-2017

Rosling, who has died aged 68, was the closest thing statisticians had to a rock star. His most famous talk, 2006’s The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen, has been watched online more than 11m times. Its ambitious scope and sweeping narrative epitomised Rosling’s ability to rise above the ebb and flow of current affairs and see generational trends.

It led him to conclude that on most measures of human progress — the impact of climate change being a notable exception — most countries were improving rapidly.

Public perceptions had not kept up with the pace of economic and demographic development and much of the media was hobbled by its adherence to false balance, he said. The world is discussed in terms of feelings and ideologies rather than as an area of knowledge, he once told the Financial Times.
leader  statistics  communication  science  world  data  debate  politics  ideology  optimism  explained  population 
december 2017 by aries1988
The French Origins of “You Will Not Replace Us”

He sees immigration as one aspect of a nefarious global process that renders obsolete everything from cuisine to landscapes. “The very essence of modernity is the fact that everything—and really everything—can be replaced by something else, which is absolutely monstrous,” he said.

When Benoist writes that “humanity is irreducibly plural” and that “diversity is part of its very essence,” he is not supporting the idea of a melting pot but of diversity in isolation

These disciples, instead of calling for an “Islamic holocaust,” can argue that rootedness in one’s homeland matters, and that immigration, miscegenation, and the homogenizing forces of neoliberal market economies collude to obliterate identities that have taken shape over hundreds of years—just as relentless development has decimated the environment. Benoist’s romantic-sounding ideas can be cherry-picked and applied to local political resentments.

Faye, like Renaud Camus, is appalled by the dictates of modern statecraft, which define nationality in legal rather than ethnic terms.

Camus lamenting that “a veiled woman speaking our language badly, completely ignorant of our culture” could declare that she is just as French as an “indigenous” man who is “passionate for Roman churches, and for the verbal and syntactic delicacies of Montaigne and Rousseau, for Burgundy wines, for Proust, and whose family has lived for generations in the same valley.” What appalls Camus, Polakow-Suransky notes, is that “legally, if she has French nationality, she is completely correct.”

This is true, but there is always a threshold at which a quantitative change becomes qualitative; migration was far less extensive in the Middle Ages than it is today. French liberals can surely make a case for immigration without pretending that nothing has changed: a country that in 1900 was almost uniformly Catholic now has more than six million Muslims.

Yet feminism, Starbucks, the smartphone, the L.G.B.T.Q. movement, the global domination of English, EasyJet, Paris’s loss of centrality in Western cultural life—all of these developments have disrupted what it means “to be French.” The problem with identitarianism isn’t simply that it is nostalgic; it’s that it fixates on ethnicity to the exclusion of all else.
interview  usa  islam  muslim  france  français  intelligentsia  book  debate  population  race  altright  culture  identity  liberalism 
november 2017 by aries1988
异乡人——胡清心:一碗九龙城海派清真牛肉汤,带我重新认识“没文化”的香港|异乡人|深度|端传媒 Initium Media
港人以身处国际金融中心为傲,充满活力的中环更是象征,可我却发现那印在香港名片上的光鲜亮丽的景象,只是属于某一部分高收入人群而已,而大多数人都过着营营役役的生活,为着可以蜗居的斗室而劳碌至死;港人往往为自己城市的国际化自豪,殖民历史带来中西交汇的香港文化,每年更有大量来自世界各地的留学生、外籍雇员、游客光顾香港。作为一座国际大都市,比如纽约、伦敦,应当有着百花齐放的多元文化与价值观,不同族裔和社群都有展示自己独特文化的空间,更应当有丰富的文化艺术及创意事业,为非主流或者亚文化的生活形式及创作提供舞台。但在香港,整个社会不仅是华人文化占据绝对主流,社会价值观更趋向单一,人生的目标不过是工作、投资、赚钱、买车、买楼、买名牌,只要不循规蹈矩走这一条路,都会被斥为不思进取,狭窄逼兀的空间让夹缝中的另类声音与少数派难以扎根成长;因为使用繁体字、家庭及社区中仍有着浓重的中国传统民俗,港人往往自认保留了被中共摧毁的中国传统文化,可我却发现无论教育水平高低,大多港人几乎很难写出一手流畅通顺更勿论词藻优美的书面中文,掌握文字方面的能力更比不上用“残体字”的陆生;而港人虽然言必及香港的廉政公署、法治昌明、言论自由,可就我观察大多数香港人的生活只不过是逛商场、吃饭、买名牌、看好莱坞(好莱坞)大片,对其他的事物和历史根本毫无兴趣。

最令我吃惊的是,清真牛肉馆的咖喱牛肉粉丝汤竟然吃出了我童年上海的味道——在上海的生煎锅贴小吃店,传统的上海人点上一份生煎或锅贴,总要搭配一份咖喱牛肉粉丝汤。这咖喱味不是印度或者日本咖喱,而是用咖喱粉冲出来的,夹杂着浓烈的胡椒味,颜色暗沉的汤里面飘着香菜叶子,用筷子一捞,透明的粉丝夹着一片片牛肉一起浮出水面。

而这个放下成见、开放对话的过程,更是一个逐渐放下大中华主义的过程。尽管当代社会推崇的是多元文化,但是但凡在中国大陆接受过基础教育的人,总是被深深植入了一套东西二元对立的,以中国为中心的叙述与思维模式。祖国幅员辽阔的国土与丰富多彩的民族及出产,中国上下五千年的历史和源远流长的传统文化,无论是地理、历史、常识还是语文课,经过筛选的常识,经过铺排的知识,甚至对于中文语言的规范化使用,其目的不仅仅是知识教育,更是一种教化,作为一个中国人有哪些常识需要理解,应该如何叙述自我身份。这一整套身为中国人的知识体系,成了我们内部进行对话的常识体系,也是与他者对话的平台。

港人与内地人之所以对话困难重重,原因之一正是对这套大中华主义底下的知识体系的不同态度。

大中华主义文化可怕的,不是中华文化,而是大中华主义;那种必须压倒其他一切认识世界方式的霸权,并非中华文化,而是大中华主义让香港被打上了“没文化”的标签。如何让香港摆脱“没文化”的标签,一则是让属于香港的带有温度的故事不仅仅活在博物馆内、留在过期的报纸上,更应透过我们带有情意的叙述和记忆,让它们重新活过来;另一方面,是在面对大中华主义文化的挤压的时候,无所畏惧和焦虑,并非因为香港文化优越过大中华文化,而是因为,一方水土一方人,并不需要以贬低他人才能获得认同感。
hongkong  opinion  china  chinese  debate  identity 
november 2017 by aries1988
梁文道:乾貨該有多乾?

依照這種想法,文學閱讀就算真能讓我們學到一些什麼有用的知識,花時間去看一部長篇,也還是太過浪費時間,因為裏面有太多的情景形容,太多的人物描述,和太多的角色對白,為什麼作者不能夠再乾一點,用幾句話去說明他要強調的主旨呢?不止文學,就連一些本身應該很「乾」的書,比如哲學,其實也都還可以再多榨點水分出來。

我還記得那年春天。我用一個晚上,只讀了韋伯一本著作的其中一頁。韋伯的作品並不頂難,後來回想,那本書其實也不是很艱澀。但是那幾個鐘頭,不知道為什麼我就是卡在那裏了,動彈不得。直至拂曉,非常戲劇性的,窗外一聲雀鳥鳴叫,我猛然一拍桌子,忽然我搞懂了,我明白他想說什麼了。我肯定無數讀者都曾有過這類eureka時刻,它帶給我們的不止是一種狂喜,更是一種不可斷裂的聯繫。自此之後,這頁紙上的言語徹底消融在我的血脈,是我的一部分了。
reading  opinion  debate  nonfiction  book  instapaper_favs 
november 2017 by aries1988
Le syndrome catalan | Le blog de Thomas Piketty
La crise catalane est-elle due à un excès de centralisation et à la brutalité du pouvoir madrilène ? Ou bien plutôt à une logique de mise en concurrence généralisée des territoires et des pays qui a déjà été beaucoup trop loin, en Espagne comme en Europe, et qui conduit à toujours plus de surenchère vers le chacun-pour-soi ?
europe  region  government  state  taxe  debate  crisis 
november 2017 by aries1988
曾磊:元朝是中国吗—对“元朝非中国”论的批判_爱思想

在21世纪的中国,有一部分网络写手操纵舆论,鼓吹元朝非中国论,他们找出很多似是而非的理由,对我国现存历史观进行挑战,影响了一部分人,应该看到,这种历史虚无主义观点不仅是错误的,而且其背后操纵者妄议我党、我国,这种错误的观点,必须予以坚决的辩证。笔者认为,必须重新认识大蒙古帝国、元朝和现代蒙古国之间的关系,才能彻底认清元朝历史问题,对中国历史的多民族性进行统一认识。

众所周知,外蒙古原本是我国领土,但是在1924年蒙古人民革命党的带领下建立了相对独立的政权。在1946年腐朽的国民党政府统治时期,以公民公投的形式获得了正式独立。任何一个爱国者都应该人知道这一历史事实,并且认识到弱国无外交的道理,我们不能让历史重演,不能再让任何一块中国领土从我们手里分裂出去,否则就是中华民族的罪人。

2006年,我国邻邦蒙古国举办了大蒙古国建国八百周年的活动,应蒙古国总统恩赫巴亚尔邀请,全国政协副主席徐匡迪将作为胡锦涛主席的特使,于10日至13日访问蒙古国,并出席了大蒙古国800周年纪念活动。
china  mongolia  history  today  diplomacy  debate  ethnic  nation  chinese  question 
november 2017 by aries1988
En direct : vos questions sur l’avenir de la Chine de Xi Jinping
Les observateurs de la politique chinoise se disent qu’il est l’homme d’une certaine rupture. Avec cette reconduction, va-t-il remodeler la direction du parti ou rester pour un troisième mandat, confortant son statut de dirigeant chinois le plus puissant depuis quarante ans ? François Bougon, chef de service adjoint au service International du Monde et auteur du livre Dans la tête de Xi Jinping, fait le point avec nous et répond à toutes vos questions en direct sur Facebook.
video  question  ama  china  chinese  politics  communism  explained  debate  2017 
october 2017 by aries1988
How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power - The New York Times
Though free speech is constitutionally protected in America, there is always more lurking in the country’s psyche than can be safely, or politely, expressed. The laws around speech are broad, but the norms are narrower, and the norms govern much of what is actually said. Those norms are changing right now, for better and for worse.
race  politics  debate  opinion  society  expression 
october 2017 by aries1988
Les médias français et la Chine : trop complaisants ou trop sévères ?
A l'occasion du 19e Congrès du parti communiste chinois qui s'est ouvert mercredi à Pékin réflexions avec deux anciens correspondants sur le traitement médiatique de la Chine dans la presse française
podcast  media  français  china  debate  journalism  journalist 
october 2017 by aries1988
What Happens When We Give up Control of Our Cars? | Feature | Car and Driver
Drivers’ licenses origi­nated as a means of reining in the early chauffeurs. Garages installed security systems. Meanwhile, cars themselves grew steadily more reliable, making the chauffeur less and less necessary. And as the automobile matured, owners ultimately realized that what they wanted from the new technology was not convenience at all. They wanted control. They discovered that the act of driving was the kind of pleasure best kept for themselves.

Words like “autonomous” and “self-driving” mislead because they promise a kind of self-sufficiency on the part of the machine. The autonomous entity is the thing that is supposed to take care of itself. But the coming class of cars does not take care of itself at all. These cars are dependent and, as such, require a larger conversation about what the rules and expectations of that dependency should look like. Once a car belongs to a network, you have to worry about whether the network is safe. Once an algorithm is in command, you have to worry about how the algorithm thinks. We are surrendering control as surely as the first car owners of a century ago did, and when you surrender control, you could end up with a chauffeur problem.

It was Apple, Google, and Intel, companies for which the automobile is not primarily an aesthetic object and driving is not an instrument of pleasure.
driving  car  future  opinion  gadget  automation  debate  history 
october 2017 by aries1988
The end of a world of nation-states may be upon us – Jamie Bartlett | Aeon Essays

Yes, there are dictatorships and democracies, but the whole world is made up of nation-states. This means a blend of ‘nation’ (people with common attributes and characteristics) and ‘state’ (an organised political system with sovereignty over a defined space, with borders agreed by other nation-states).

Until the mid-19th century, most of the world was a sprawl of empires, unclaimed land, city-states and principalities, which travellers crossed without checks or passports.

as Karl Marx observed, if you change the dominant mode of production that underpins a society, the social and political structure will change too.

John Perry Barlow’s ‘Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’ (1996) sums it up well: the internet is a technology built on libertarian principles. Censorship-free, decentralised and borderless. And now ubiquitous.

This is the crux of the problem: nation-states rely on control. If they can’t control information, crime, businesses, borders or the money supply, then they will cease to deliver what citizens demand of them. In the end, nation-states are nothing but agreed-upon myths: we give up certain freedoms in order to secure others. But if that transaction no longer works, and we stop agreeing on the myth, it ceases to have power over us.

Clearly, nation-states won’t go down tamely. Carving out a new form of sovereign authority from an existing one is extremely difficult, and is generally frowned upon by the UN.
debate  state  origin  today  death  government  world 
october 2017 by aries1988
The Interpreter Thursday, October 5, 2017
And conversely, how much attention should we pay to the fact that today’s nascent democracies are held to a much higher moral standard than more established ones were in their earliest days? The early United States, for instance, relied on slave labor and waged brutal ethnic cleansing campaigns against Native Americans. European nations used slavery, torture and political oppression to maintain control over their colonies.

We now recognize, rightly, that those atrocities were abhorrent and shameful. But it is easier to do that from today’s comfortable vantage point of wealth and stability. We rarely reckon with how much of what we have today was derived from the oppression of others. So should we take a cold, hard look at the difficulties of establishing democracy, freedom and equality all at the same time?
question  debate  democracy  nation  state  2017  history  future  government 
october 2017 by aries1988
One kind of education does not fit all
Such techniques may not seem controversial elsewhere, but in France they challenge central educational tenets. For many years, education has been subject to what might be called “the tyranny of normal”. Ever since Jules Ferry introduced compulsory, free, secular primary education in the 1880s, uniform schooling countrywide has been part of the French way of doing things. The 19th-century instituteur, or schoolteacher, was a missionary figure, a guarantor of republican equality and norms. Teachers were trained in écoles normales. To this day, the mighty education ministry sets standardised curriculums and timetables. All 11-year-olds spend exactly four-and-a-half hours on maths a week. Experimentation is frequently regarded as suspect. “Classes are not laboratories,” noted a report by the conservative education inspectorate a few years ago, “and pupils are not guinea pigs.”

French education has long been run along almost military lines. An army of 880,000 teachers is deployed to schools across the country. Head teachers have no say in staffing. In the course of their careers, teachers acquire points that enable them to request reassignment. Newly qualified ones without such points are sent to the toughest schools, and turnover in such places is depressingly high.

Each year 50,000-60,000 people apply and just 900 are admitted. Léonard Aymard, originally from Annecy, was a tour guide when he applied. Loic Shety, from Dijon, won a place even though he lacked the school-leaving baccalauréat certificate. “It’s not for everyone,” says Mathilde Allard from Montpellier, “but we work together so we don’t get lost.”

When a university cannot take any more, those at schools nearby are supposed to be given priority, but such is the demand that places are increasingly being allocated through random selection by computer, known as tirage au sort, which this year affected 169 degree subjects across France. Ability is immaterial.

The lessons of his school, as well as of Descartes and Oran-Constantine, point a way for France to overcome the tyranny of normal in order to make more of what it does well and minimise what it does not.
français  school  explained  reportage  debate  future  learn  university  system 
october 2017 by aries1988
Driven to despair — the hidden costs of the gig economy

Multiple studies have shown that genuine flexibility is good for one’s health. Francis Green, professor of work and education economics at University College London, says data from the long-running European Working Conditions Survey (which covers 44,000 workers in 35 countries) show a remarkable link between wellbeing and the option to take an hour or two off during working hours to take care of personal or family matters.

In the case of food-delivery bike riders, demand often peaks at times when conditions are most hazardous. People will often order takeaway meals when it is cold, dark and wet.

Yet one of the defining features of gig-economy work is the lack of human line managers.

He says drivers’ average fares are £15 an hour after Uber’s fee and, even after costs, the average driver took home well over the national living wage of £7.50 an hour.
work  uber  numbers  debate  economy 
october 2017 by aries1988
Red Famine by Anne Applebaum — enemies of the people
The famine was an instrument of targeted mass murder. As peasants were dying in the countryside, Stalin launched a brutal attack on the Ukrainian national idea itself. Since the 19th century, Moscow had been hostile towards national groups that challenged the unity of the Russian empire. In Ukraine, the Romanovs embarked upon a programme of accelerated Russification, suppressing local languages, gutting civil society, and depositing outsiders from remote parts of the empire into Ukraine’s towns and cities. Stalin’s “War on Ukraine” was the violent continuum of this quest for hegemony in Europe’s bloodlands. Along with the peasantry, it was directed at intellectuals, politicians, writers, priests and public officials — agents of the nation’s moral and political order.
book  russia  europe  history  1930s  disaster  politics  communism  death  debate 
october 2017 by aries1988
On epigenetics: we need both Darwin’s and Lamarck’s theories | Aeon Essays
One problem with Darwin’s theory is that, while species do evolve more adaptive traits (called phenotypes by biologists), the rate of random DNA sequence mutation turns out to be too slow to explain many of the changes observed.

To quote the prominent evolutionary biologist Jonathan B L Bard, who was paraphrasing T S Eliot: ‘Between the phenotype and genotype falls the shadow.’

In evolution and biomedicine, the rates of phenotypic trait divergence is far more rapid than the rate of genetic variation and mutation – but why?

Waddington recognised the potential impact his discovery could have on the theory of evolution: the single-generation change in the fruit-fly wings were supportive of the original ideas of the heretic Lamarck. It appeared that the environment could directly impact traits.

the vast majority of environmental factors cannot directly alter the molecular sequence of DNA, they do regulate a host of epigenetic mechanisms that regulate how DNA functions – turning the expression of genes up or down, or dictating how proteins, the products of our genes, are expressed in cells.

Today, that is the precise definition of epigenetics: the molecular factors that regulate how DNA functions and what genes are turned on or off, independent of the DNA sequence itself.

epigenetic inheritance does not follow many of the Mendelian rules that apply to classic genetics and the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. These rules hold that DNA sequences and genes function discretely, like particles; upon reproduction, the ‘particles’ from each parent unite at random with a matching pair from the other parent, leading to a new DNA sequence and new expression of inherited traits.

In conclusion, exposure to the fungicide permanently altered the descendant’s sperm epigenetics; that, in turn, led to inheritance of sexual selection characteristics known to reduce the frequency with which their genes might propagate in the broader population and directly influence evolution on a micro-evolutionary scale.
biology  evolution  theory  epigenetics  science  debate  scientist  history 
september 2017 by aries1988
If your pay is not yours to keep, then neither is the tax – Philip Goff | Aeon Essays

Here’s where we’re up to: to make sense of the idea that taxation is (moral) theft, we have to make sense of the idea that each person has a moral claim on the entirety of her gross income, and this can be made sense of only if property rights are natural rather than mere human constructions. We need, therefore, to defend a theory of natural property rights.

In theory, Right-wing libertarianism does entail that people have a moral claim on their pre-tax income, and hence that taxation is theft, but only in hypothetical societies where there is zero or minimal state interference in the economy. In states in which the government intervenes in the economy through taxation – ie, in almost every developed state – market transactions are tainted and so are morally void. The Right-wing libertarian is perfectly entitled to campaign for the day when her minimal-government Utopia is brought about, but until that day she cannot consistently argue that she has a right to her pre-tax income, and hence cannot consistently complain that the government is taking what is hers by right.

Still, the vast majority happily vote for low taxes, rejoicing that they get to keep their morsel while in reality all they’ve done is protect the spoils of a tiny minority at the top. The result is our failure to create what we really need: a tax system that – as part of the wider economy – creates a just society.
tax  ethic  question  debate  economy  money  work  politics  philosophy  liberalism 
september 2017 by aries1988
The Atheist Who Strangled Me - The Atlantic

Along the way, Harris developed an interest in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a freestyle martial-arts competition, begun in 1993, that he describes as “a science experiment that martial artists had waited centuries to have happen.” Would a boxer win? A karate guy? A wrestler? “It was everyone’s fantasy,” Harris told me. “Who’s stronger: Batman or Superman?” The outcome of the first UFC was clear: Royce Gracie, Ryron’s uncle, won handily, and the Gracie school of jiu-jitsu established itself as first among equals.

“The great strength of jiu-jitsu,” Harris told me, “is that there really are no illusions.” BJJ practitioners generally don’t punch or kick, but the holds and locks they do use can be tested as if in real-world conditions. As a result, “Ryron knows that if he puts you in a triangle choke, you’re going to sleep in six to 10 seconds.”
religion  interview  story  debate  martial-arts 
september 2017 by aries1988
What Makes Countries Rich or Poor?

Acemoglu and Robinson, generalize from these examples of bordering countries and deduce that good institutions also explain the differences in wealth between nations that aren’t neighbors and that differ greatly in their geographic environments and human populations.

why have some countries ended up with good institutions, while others haven’t? The most important factor behind their emergence is the historical duration of centralized government.

The various durations of government around the world are linked to the various durations and productivities of farming that was the prerequisite for the rise of governments.

the reversal of fortune,

in formerly poor countries with sparse native populations, such as Costa Rica and Australia, European settlers had to work themselves and developed institutional incentives rewarding work.

In the New World the two north temperate countries (the US and Canada, average incomes respectively $47,390 and $43,270) and the three south temperate countries (Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina, respectively $10,590, $10,120, and $8,620) are all richer—on the average five times richer—than almost all of the intervening seventeen tropical countries of mainland Central and South America (incomes mostly between $1,110 and $6,970).

biological characteristics of the responsible microbes have made it easier to develop vaccines against major infectious diseases of temperate areas than against tropical diseases; we still aren’t close to a vaccine against malaria, despite billions of dollars invested.

glaciers repeatedly advanced and retreated over temperate areas, creating young nutrient-rich soils.

It costs roughly seven times more to ship a ton of cargo by land than by sea

Young fertile volcanic and alluvial soils are exceptions

inclusive institutions are required for sustained growth based on technological change.

Acemoglu and Robinson’s view of history is that small effects at critical junctures have long-lasting effects, so it’s hard to make predictions. While they don’t say so explicitly, this view suggests that good institutions should have cropped up randomly around the world, depending on who happened to decide what at some particular place and time.

In their Chapter 5, Acemoglu and Robinson use one of those exceptional patterns (that for the Fertile Crescent) to assert, in the complete absence of evidence, that those particular hunter/gatherers had become sedentary because, for unknown reasons, they happened to develop innovative institutions through a hypothesized political revolution.

They take these maps to mean that the ancestors of barley and wheat were distributed along a long arc beyond the Fertile Crescent, hence that the Fertile Crescent’s unique role in agriculture’s origins was not determined by the availability of plant and animal species.

My overall assessment of the authors’ argument is that inclusive institutions, while not the overwhelming determinant of prosperity that they claim, are an important factor.
review  critic  book  debate  economy  inequality  question  instituition  environment 
september 2017 by aries1988
How to Disagree

Counterargument is contradiction plus reasoning and/or evidence. When aimed squarely at the original argument, it can be convincing. But unfortunately it's common for counterarguments to be aimed at something slightly different. More often than not, two people arguing passionately about something are actually arguing about two different things. Sometimes they even agree with one another, but are so caught up in their squabble they don't realize it.

There could be a legitimate reason for arguing against something slightly different from what the original author said: when you feel they missed the heart of the matter. But when you do that, you should say explicitly you're doing it.

To refute someone you probably have to quote them. You have to find a "smoking gun," a passage in whatever you disagree with that you feel is mistaken, and then explain why it's mistaken. If you can't find an actual quote to disagree with, you may be arguing with a straw man.

The most obvious advantage of classifying the forms of disagreement is that it will help people to evaluate what they read. In particular, it will help them to see through intellectually dishonest arguments. An eloquent speaker or writer can give the impression of vanquishing an opponent merely by using forceful words. In fact that is probably the defining quality of a demagogue. By giving names to the different forms of disagreement, we give critical readers a pin for popping such balloons.

If moving up the disagreement hierarchy makes people less mean, that will make most of them happier. Most people don't really enjoy being mean; they do it because they can't help it.
discussion  analysis  communication  argument  debate  howto  instapaper_favs 
september 2017 by aries1988
After 150 years, are the days of grouse shooting numbered?

For a century and a half, passionate sportsmen — and, increasingly, sportswomen — have flocked to Scottish moors in their tweeds for the Glorious Twelfth, the August 12 start of the grouse-shooting season. In recent decades the appeal has gone global, with enthusiasts from all over the world angling for places on the best shoots and buying some of Scotland’s finest estates.

Employing dedicated beaters instead meant that a whole hillside’s population of grouse could be driven toward a prepared line of concealed positions.

It is the expense of driven grouse shooting that makes for one of its strongest justifications: few other activities can attract such free-spending landowners and visitors to the remote upland areas of the UK, with resulting year-round employment.

Successfully maintaining a moor’s population requires the burning of heather in rotation to ensure that a given environment offers both young shoots for the grouse to eat and older growth in which they can hide. He also has to distribute medicated grit to deal with parasitic threadworms that infest grouse guts. And then keepers have to shoot or trap predators such as foxes, crows, stoats and weasels.

It is red grouse’s unpredictability and the speed of its flight — sometimes exceeding 100kmh — that give it its sporting lustre. Lagopus scoticus is an attractive bird from all points of view, wrote one admirer in 1910. He is interesting to behold; beautiful in plumage; graceful in movement; devoted and courageous in defence of his young; while, as an object of sport, he has no equal in this country among the feathered tribes.
hunting  debate  animal  tradition  scotland  nature 
august 2017 by aries1988
The Secret Economic Lives of Animals

Economists study human behavior. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog, Adam Smith sniffed in The Wealth of Nations.
economy  animal  research  debate 
august 2017 by aries1988
Against Murderism
As usual, the answer is that “racism” is a confusing word that serves as a mishmash of unlike concepts. Here are some of the definitions people use for racism: 1. Definition By Motives: An irrational feeling of hatred toward some race that causes someone to want to hurt or discriminate against them. 2. Definition By Belief: A belief that some race has negative qualities or is inferior, especially if this is innate/genetic. 3. Definition By Consequences: Anything whose consequence is harm to minorities or promotion of white supremacy, regardless of whether or not this is intentional.

Murder is an effect of other goals – sometimes base, sometimes noble – and the invocation of “murderism” only serves to hide these goals and conflate different actions into a single meaningless category.
politics  racism  debate  essay  idea  comparison  moi  question  toread 
august 2017 by aries1988
L'école, premier boulet de l'économie française

Il y a un siècle, le faible niveau d'une grande partie de la population était un handicap politique, une entrave à la démocratie, car le citoyen doit décider en connaissance de cause. Mais ce n'était pas un handicap économique, car l'ouvrier n'avait pas besoin de connaître grand-chose pour travailler dans les champs ou à l'usine. A l'ère du « command and control », une petite élite suffisait à organiser et vérifier le travail.
français  education  debate  opinion  youth  elite 
august 2017 by aries1988
At Waldorf School in Silicon Valley, Technology Can Wait - The New York Times
While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look — blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.

On a recent Tuesday, Andie Eagle and her fifth-grade classmates refreshed their knitting skills, crisscrossing wooden needles around balls of yarn, making fabric swatches. It’s an activity the school says helps develop problem-solving, patterning, math skills and coordination. The long-term goal: make socks.

Down the hall, a teacher drilled third-graders on multiplication by asking them to pretend to turn their bodies into lightning bolts. She asked them a math problem — four times five — and, in unison, they shouted “20” and zapped their fingers at the number on the blackboard. A roomful of human calculators.

In second grade, students standing in a circle learned language skills by repeating verses after the teacher, while simultaneously playing catch with bean bags. It’s an exercise aimed at synchronizing body and brain. Here, as in other classes, the day can start with a recitation or verse about God that reflects a nondenominational emphasis on the divine.

parents of students at the Los Altos school say it attracts great teachers who go through extensive training in the Waldorf approach, creating a strong sense of mission that can be lacking in other schools.
education  technology  debate  children  learn  philosophy 
april 2017 by aries1988
Is Fat Killing You, or Is Sugar?

Women in the nineteenth century stuffed themselves into near-suffocating corsets to achieve an hourglass figure with an unnaturally tiny waist. Weight-loss regimens included consuming soap, chalk, pickles, digitalis, camphor tea, grapefruit (which was thought to contain fat-dissolving enzymes), potassium acetate (a diuretic), and ipecac (which induces vomiting). People tried sweating their fat away in rubber suits, or squeezing it away in a pressurized reducing machine.

The importance of calories—if energy gained exceeds output, the excess becomes fat—remains one of the few unchallengeable facts in the field of dietary science. Still, further research has shown that calories eaten are only part of what determines weight. Our metabolism reflects an interplay of things like genes, hormones, and the bacteria that populate the gut, so how much energy we absorb from what we eat varies from person to person.

The immediate postwar years also brought the first sustained scientific assault on dietary fat. Ancel Keys, a physiologist at the University of Minnesota, who had spent the war developing nutritionally optimal Army rations and studying the effects of starvation, became interested in the high rates of heart attack among a seemingly well-fed sector of the population—American businessmen. He soon became convinced that the saturated fats found in meat and dairy products were the cause, and thus began the war on fat that galvanized my parents. Keys became, with his wife, Margaret, an advocate for the Mediterranean diet of unsaturated fats. Their books promoting the diet were best-sellers, and Keys, who spent his latter years in Italy, lived to the age of a hundred. (Margaret lived to ninety-seven.)

Taubes believes that a wide range of seemingly unrelated diseases—diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer’s, which account for five of the top ten causes of death in the U.S.—are in fact linked, and that dietary sugar is the cause of them all, as well as of other disorders that associate with these illnesses, among them polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), rheumatoid arthritis, gout, varicose veins, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.

there is no conclusive evidence that excess dietary sugar per se causes diabetes.

To imagine that, just because cancer cells like glucose, elevated levels of it might prompt healthy cells to become cancerous is to take a vast, unsubstantiated leap.

What this means for most of us is that common sense should prevail. Eat and exercise in moderation; maintain a diet consisting of balanced amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates; make sure you get plenty of fruit and vegetables. And enjoy an occasional slice of chocolate cake.
nutrition  debate  food  health  sugar  fat  diet  research  everday  moi  body  advice  book 
march 2017 by aries1988
The bilingual brain: why one size doesn’t fit all

Studying white matter – which is primarily composed of axons, the long, slender projectiles shunting signals across a nerve cell – is a way to measure connectivity between brain regions. If we think of the human brain as water in a cup (the cup being our skull), then white matter is like a straw in that cup: it constricts water flow in the direction that the axons are travelling. One common DTI measure, fractional anisotropy (FA), maps the overall shape of water flow in the brain. Another more specific measure, radial diffusivity (RD), helps researchers to pinpoint weak spots in the side of the straw, places where water might ‘leak’ out. In the healthy brain, researchers have long held, white matter will show high FA (flow in a single direction) and low RD (leaking of water in other directions).

Specifically, more time spent listening to the second language was associated with lower RD in regions associated with language production (the anterior portion of the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus). More time spent speaking the second language was associated with higher FA in regions of the brain associated with language comprehension.
brain  research  language  debate  children 
march 2017 by aries1988
Are Liberals on the Wrong Side of History?

for many pundits, too, now is the only time worth knowing, for now is when the baby is crying and now is when they’re selling your books.

one wonders whether what Mishra traces through time might really be not a directional arrow but more like a surfboard, rising and falling on the quick-change waves of history.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s romantic reaction to Voltaire’s Enlightenment—with the Enlightenment itself entirely to blame in letting high-minded disdain for actual human experience leave it open to a romantic reaction.

father of the Romantic movement, of both the intimate nature-loving side and the more sinister political side, with its mystification of a general will that dictators could vibrate to, independent of mere elections

cold Utopianism and hot Volk-worship

the idea of Rousseau, the Genevan autodidact, as the key figure in the romantic political reaction against modernity, even as the godfather of Nazism, was present in Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy, back in the nineteen-forties

in China the minds evolved but not the makers. The Chinese enlightenment happened, but it was strictly a thinker’s enlightenment, where Mandarins never talked much to the manufacturers.

Sapiens, a bracingly unsentimental history of humankind

By humanism Harari means, instead, the doctrine that only our feelings can tell us what to do—that we ought to give as much freedom as possible to every individual to experience the world, follow his or her inner voice and express his or her inner truth.

we have merely a self-deluding, narrating self, one that recites obviously tendentious stories, shaped by our evolutionary history to help us cope with life.

The argument of Candide is neither that the world gets better nor that it’s all for naught; it’s that happiness is where you find it, and you find it first by making it yourself.
book  thinking  debate  today  history  culture  crisis  opinion  liberalism 
march 2017 by aries1988
The True Believers: Sam Harris
# Instapaper (2017/02/24)
## Added on Saturday, February 24-25

What I’m arguing for in the piece is not to discard either type of explanation but to remember the latter one and take the words of these ISIS people seriously. Even though at various points in the past we’ve ignored political or material causes, this doesn’t mean that ideology plays no role, or that we should ignore the plain meaning of words.

that’s really one of the things that social sciences have triumphed in doing: explaining that within certain boundaries, rationalities lie behind what at first looks like mere craziness or barbarity. Just calling behavior craziness is a trap that a lot of ISIS-watchers have fallen into. If you see members of the Islamic State as thrill-kill nihilists, then you’re not giving them enough credit.

There’s also a deep urge to deny agency to the Islamic State, and I think it’s fundamentally connected to a reluctance to see non-Western people as fully developed and capable of having intelligent beliefs and enough self-knowledge to express them. These people articulate well-thought-out reasons for what they do. And yet ignoring what they say somehow gets camouflaged in the minds of liberals as speaking up for them. It’s delusional.

although the Islamic State wants a civilizational war, of Muslims versus Crusaders, I think they’re consciously avoiding terrorist attacks on Western targets that would provoke too strong a response too soon. If they bombed the Super Bowl, they’d probably be looking at a ground invasion within weeks. They want the invasion, but on their own schedule.

I think we might be in a situation analogous to seeing someone writhing around on the ground in front of us, showing every symptom of having appendicitis. But instead of being surgeons, armed with sterile scalpels, we are just laymen who once read a first aid manual and have no tools other than a rusty soup can. There’s no good option, even though we recognize the problem. The overwhelming probability is that the patient will die a terrible death, and we will have to watch.

it’s abundantly clear that we are not good at massive occupations of countries we poorly understand. Not only that, we just don’t have the appetite for it.

The point of all propaganda is to create narratives about the world. Their view—and the view of jihadis everywhere, really—is that Muslims are under attack by a Crusader West.

confirm their narrative for other Muslims who are already inclined to believe that the West is at war with Islam. That’s not a view I would like to encourage.

The idea is that if we don’t walk on eggshells until the end of history as we fight jihadis, taking great pains to deny any link between the chaos they cause and the doctrine of Islam, then we’re doomed to provoke more-mainstream Muslims into choosing the wrong side in this conflict.

One of the things that is so refreshing about your article is that you didn’t do that. But you now seem to be saying that we must be very careful not to do anything that could give fodder to a “clash of civilizations” narrative.

The Islamic State leader identifies as Salafi, which means that he takes as his sources of authority the Qur’an, the hadīth of the Prophet Muhammad, and the actions of the generations immediately succeeding Muhammad.

The percentage of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims who identify as Salafi—who subscribe to this literalist version of Islam—is quite small, probably single-digit. The percentage of Salafis who would identify as jihadis is vanishingly small. And then, of course, within that population a lot are going to be noncombatants because they’re too old, or too young, or whatever. So we’re still talking about large, but perhaps now manageable, numbers.

The point of bringing up this quietist group is to say that the problem isn’t Islam, or even Islamic literalism. Most literalist Muslims are essentially harmless, or even better than harmless—nice people you would like to have as neighbors. So the specificity of interpretation that leads to the Islamic State is really quite narrow.

What you seem to be expressing is a fear that there could be a mass changing of sides based on some secret sympathy, or some susceptibility to moral confusion, even in the face of the clearest case for a just war that may have ever existed. Whatever the underlying causes of this form of jihadism, at the end of the day we have pure, fanatical, implacable evil vs. basic human sanity.

in the face of the clearest case for a just war that may have ever existed. Whatever the underlying causes of this form of jihadism, at the end of the day we have pure, fanatical, implacable evil vs. basic human sanity.

The Salafi neighbor may not be the neighbor you’d choose, if you could pick from a menu of atheists and liberals and, more generally, people who didn’t care what you thought about god.

there are many religious people whose beliefs about a far-off apocalyptic battle, and mass conversion at the sword, do not affect their lives much at all. People are good at compartmentalizing, and if they weren’t, the world would hardly be livable.

it is a lack of meaning or fulfillment in their lives, related to deep malaise and feelings of rejection or dissatisfaction with the worlds where they live.

If you think the high point of your life in England is going to be eating KFC, the promise of joining the greatest battle the world has ever known might be pretty attractive.

many of us experience such existential concerns early in life.

Where are your scholars?

huge numbers of scholars have been co-opted by politics—either the politics of the Middle East or the politics of the United States.

These differences between the palace scholars and ISIS seem minor, but I would encourage you to see them as significant.

I try studiously not to take a position on which one of these views is correct. I just don’t have any credibility as a non-Muslim to say whether one scholar or another espouses the best form of Islam. However, if I were able to choose what people believed, I’d hope it was the caliphate-later view.

Of course, there are Christians who think about the end times, which are also not envisioned as very pleasant. If you ask them, “Is it happening now?” some of them will say yes. But very few of them will act as if they actually believe it’s happening now. If they’re envisioning a terrible bloodbath at some unimaginably distant time, I can live with that.
illusion  debate  to:marginnote  islam  warrior  middle-east  religion  war  crisis  terrorism  explained  interview  muslim 
february 2017 by aries1988
Peut-on dire, comme Emmanuel Macron, que la colonisation est un « crime contre l’humanité » ?

S’agissant d’éventuelles revendications algériennes, la situation est complexe. En Algérie, le pouvoir, qui souffre d’un déficit de légitimité démocratique, a largement utilisé la dénonciation de la colonisation pour se légitimer et susciter l’adhésion des Algériens. On est donc dans un contexte d’usage politique du passé au profit du pouvoir. La question se pose alors de savoir ce qu’il en est dans la société, et, là, la réponse est double.

D’autre part, cependant, aujourd’hui, l’immense majorité de la population algérienne n’a pas connu la période coloniale et il se manifeste parfois une certaine lassitude à l’évocation de cette période, tant elle a été utilisée par le pouvoir. C’est ainsi qu’en 2012, au moment du cinquantenaire de l’indépendance, on a entendu, en Algérie, s’exprimer des demandes de bilan sur ce qui a été fait depuis 1962. La dénonciation de la colonisation n’est pas fonction d’une nationalité ni d’une éventuelle origine. C’est une question de positionnement politique.

Il ne s’agit pas de repentir, cessons d’employer cette terminologie à connotation religieuse. Le plus grave à mon sens est que les Algériens ayant souffert de la colonisation et des crimes commis pendant la guerre d’indépendance n’ont jamais rien eu pour panser leurs plaies.
debate  france  colonialism  algerie  history  politics 
february 2017 by aries1988
The People Who Pass

Outside the Gare du Nord, there are people streaming from the Eurostar, tourists looking for a week’s pleasure, mingled with travellers recently arrived from Bulgaria and Romania, looking for a job or a new life. The kinds cross, with the French, permanently frowning and suspicious, among them, and the tension rises.

the usual conviction of the French police that the human comedy as it unfolds is so absorbing that to intervene and impose artificial order upon it would be inartistic.

The thieves, and their invisible directors, are perceived by the French public as exclusively Roma—what English speakers often call Gypsies, the nomadic people long idealized as romantic and, for just as long, pursued as petty criminals.

We are manifold and must be respected as individuals—and we are completely different from the rest of you, with our own culture and history, giving us a collective identity that allows us to belong to the larger world of nations, just as you do. It’s our being completely different from the rest of you that makes us like the rest of you.

If Hamidovic was the face of the predatory Roma, Leonarda was the face of their persecution.

The majority should return to their countries. . . . Our role is not to welcome all the world’s misery.

Valls’s words—widely taken both as a testament of no-nonsense enforcement and as a bid for eventual power as Prime Minister or even President

an exasperated account of how the old Republican idea of French identity, open to all through education but still very specific in its style (high-minded) and values (meritocratic to the max), has been demoralized by a slack and hasty pluralism.

They insist, with Finkielkraut, that this angelism is part of a larger, enforced cult of the Other, a compulsory act of celebrating difference that is undermining the French state, so that the defenders of little Leonarda insist on embracing the Other, even as the Other picks their pockets.

In a matter of years, representations of the tsiganes have shifted away from musical talents, bohème, and free spirit to a portrayal of Roma otherness. It is our decision to see kinds that makes us sort kinds.

My daughter, when she was ten, said to her friend, ‘I’d like to eat your belly!’ I was called into the school—the principal was shocked! Perhaps my daughter needed to see a psychiatrist.

On one subject, Carmona is categorical. France is the worst place for Roma to be born. It suffers from centuries of ‘Enlightenment,’ the many centuries that created this Jacobin so-called ‘universalist’ frame without any regard to subjugated knowledge or subjugated peoples. In France, ethnic minorities are not even recognized—there’s a process of negation of identity that leads to the absurd category of ‘gens du voyage.’

If an unashamed, de-complexed agenda of national order and national security is not made plausible, the argument goes, the middle classes will continue their flight to the far right.

Le Pen can be declawed, he thinks, only if mainstream politicians can learn to speak truths that seem obvious to the stressed middle class.

The big problem in France is one of authority. Where is the authority in France? There is no authority in France now. François Hollande is no authority. In the family, where is the authority? In school, where is the authority? The ‘regal’ state of France has become nonexistent.

This is the problem of integration. What you can say twenty years ago, you can’t say it now. It is this question of bien-pensants, of angelism, and the right wing and the left wing are together responsible.

Mobility, rootlessness, nomadism—these are the facts of the new Europe. We must read Victor Hugo. The happy face of nomadism is all the French gone to London to be bankers. The wretched face is the poor Roma in their camps. And, great surprise, the miserables of our time turn out to be poor immigrants in the cold who behave like poor immigrants in the cold. Behind it, beneath it, is the new fear of having no floor beneath one’s feet. Ordinary French people feel that a real fall is possible.
paris  france  immigrant  society  politics  debate  europe  history  identity  immigration  crime  culture  book  intelligentsia  rom 
february 2017 by aries1988
李约瑟对李约瑟难题的回答 -上海书评-东方早报网

曾经高度发达的中国科学为什么没有发展出现代科学,反倒是科学发展并不领先的欧洲取得了突破,发展出了现代科学?这就是李约瑟难题,也称李约瑟之问、李约瑟之谜。

“中国礼仪之争后,大多耶稣会士被驱逐出境,中欧文化交流的正式渠道被关闭”

FRD

所谓现代科学,最为重要的内核是把理性与经验结合起来,把经受住受控实验检验的关于外在世界的假说系统化(124页),简言之,数学假说与受控实验密切结合。

中国历史上公共工程(河流控制、灌溉、运河开凿)的空间范围一再超越了个体封建诸侯或原始封建诸侯的领地界限,水利社会总是倾向于中央集权,也就是用官僚制度来统治遍布各地的‘部落’乡村(189页)。中央集权虽然有助于对某些科学领域的发展提供国家支持,但是官僚主要由儒家知识精英充当,重义轻利的价值观不仅使逐利的商人处于边缘地位,君子不器的价值观也使科学家和工匠处于附属地位,中国文明中绝不可能出现一种以商业为主导的社会秩序(183页),其结果是即使是富商人家的孩子,其唯一志向也是做官,商人阶层显然不可能获得像欧洲文艺复兴时期的商人在国家中的那种权势和影响力(27页)。

正如尘世的君主颁布了实在法让人们遵守,天界至高的理性造物主也颁布了一系列的法让矿物、晶体、动植物和星辰遵守(280页),这一源自巴比伦和希伯来的自然法传统,为基督教神学所继承,启发了诸多基督教背景的科学家去寻找上帝赋予自然的法则,促成了牛顿范式的机械宇宙观的形成,进而对现代科学的兴起发挥了相当重要的作用。与此相对的,是传统中国几乎完全没有产生过机械宇宙观,而一直秉承有机宇宙观,万物之所以能够和谐并作,并不是因为有一个外在于它们的最高权威在发布命令,而是因为它们都属于一个等级分明的整体,各个部分形成了一种有机的宇宙样式,它们服从的乃是自身本性的内在命令(309页)。

道家在未奠定牛顿式世界图景的基础之前就在摸索一种爱因斯坦式的世界图景,而科学沿着这条道路是不可能发展的(294页)。
civ  china  comparison  europe  history  science  religion  book  critic  chinese  theory  research  question  debate 
january 2017 by aries1988
Killing Animals at the Zoo

The modern defense of zoos tends to refer to four achievements: education, conservation, scientific research, and the societal benefit of getting people out of the house. Much of this is often packed into a single claim, which may be true even if it is unsupported by good evidence: zoos are said to cause people to value wild animals more than they otherwise would, thereby improving the survival prospects of threatened species.

His manner, like that of Richard Dawkins, combines reserve and certainty in a way that can suggest adolescence: sometimes, when countering one of his critics, he reddens slightly, and half smiles.

An animal can be a city’s shared pet, or it can be a quasi-agricultural team member whose work is to be seen and to breed and, perhaps, to die young. The Copenhagen Zoo, more than most others, aims to include virtually every animal in the second category, and to avoid what Holst likes to call the Disneyfication of nature.

the Copenhagen Zoo adheres to a practice known as breed and cull. The case for this policy, which is followed by many other zoos in Europe, if with less gusto, is this: because contraception carries medical risks, and because animals can become infertile if they don’t breed, and because zoos must deprive animals of many natural behaviors, it’s important to allow them to mate and raise infants. Why take that away? Holst asked me.

The global giraffe population has declined by nearly forty per cent in the past thirty years

a strand of Danish animal exceptionalism. Danes aren’t unusually careless about animal welfare, but there’s a tradition of pragmatism—or, a critic could say, an insular and self-congratulatory moral laxity—about animal death.

a school of Danish thought, in the early twentieth century, that stressed a greater openness around sex and death and gross bodily functions. He noted that Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize pornography, in the late sixties.

I mean, when you’re dead you’re dead, Holst said to me at one point. And animals don’t have any expectations of what happens after death, or that they could have had a longer life.
zoo  children  education  debate  ethic  culture  dane  denmark  animal  life  instapaper_favs 
january 2017 by aries1988
Untamed
That’s the drawback but also the glory of creatures that were never domesticated. Nothing feels better than being singled out by something that at best should fear you, and at worst would like to eat you.
story  love  animal  debate  instapaper_favs 
december 2016 by aries1988
How to Sleep

While no one knows why we sleep, it is a universal biological imperative; no animal with a brain can survive without it. Dolphins are said to sleep with only half their brain at a time, keeping partially alert for predators. Many of us spend much of our lives in a similar state.

If coffee does have an effect on longevity, it is likely a result of something more global than the potential effect of antioxidants—such as the fact that constant exposure to caffeine, even at low levels, suppresses appetite (in a world where most people eat more than is ideal). Or that it encourages social interaction—it inclines us to go out and do things with people—which itself is generally beneficial to health. These are legitimately positive results. But as with all chemicals, the comprehensive effect of caffeine on our health depends on how, and how much, we use it.

the vitamin/caffeine/amino-acid concoctions known collectively as energy drinks

When light enters your eye, it hits your retina, which relays signals directly to the core of your brain, the hypothalamus. The size of an almond, the hypothalamus has more importance per volume than any other part of your body. Yes, that includes the sex organs—you would have no sex drive without the hypothalamus. This almond is the interface between the electricity of the nervous system and the hormones of the endocrine system. It takes sensory information and directs the body’s responses, so that the body can stay alive.
sleep  coffee  health  debate  research  body 
december 2016 by aries1988
Pour François Fillon, la colonisation visait à "partager sa culture" - L'Express
"La France, c'est quinze siècle d'histoire depuis le baptême de Clovis à Reims," a insisté François Fillon dont les propos résonnent avec ceux de Marion Maréchal-Le Pen qui avait lancé, en décembre dernier: "Qui n'a pas vibré au sacre de Reims et à la fête de la Fédération n'est pas vraiment Français". 
français  history  education  politics  debate 
november 2016 by aries1988
If Animals Have Rights, Should Robots?

In a paper, she names three factors: physicality (the object exists in our space, not onscreen), perceived autonomous movement (the object travels as if with a mind of its own), and social behavior (the robot is programmed to mimic human-type cues).

The problem with torturing a robot, in other words, has nothing to do with what a robot is, and everything to do with what we fear most in ourselves.
right  robot  animal  human  essay  debate 
november 2016 by aries1988
The search goes on | The Economist
The West has gained a lot from Christianity. There is still more to learn
The Christianisation of Europe, he says, was not a bunch of reactionary clerics trying to shut down a noble, free, secular ancient world, but a new idea of “a voluntary basis for human association in which people joined together through will and love rather than blood or shared material objectives”. Christianity declared that humans “have access to the deepest reality as individuals rather than merely as members of a group”.

Out of this, with a reinjection at the Reformation, came the origins of the modern world: a belief in equality of status as the proper basis for a legal system and the assertion of natural rights leading to individual liberty, as well as the notion that a society built on the assumption of moral equality should have a representative form of government.




The Evolution of the West: How Christianity Has Shaped Our Values. By Nick Spencer. SPCK; 190 pages; £9.99.
book  religion  christianity  europe  Renaissance  history  mentality  study  society  opinion  debate  middle-age  antiquity 
november 2016 by aries1988
Rethinking Franco-German Relations - The New York Times
French and German people don’t speak each other’s language, and literally don’t understand one another. That’s not just a linguistic issue; it is one that appears in every political and economic discussion. It also follows that politicians and central banks talk about economics in English, a foreign language in both nations, and so it’s hardly surprising that ordinary people feel excluded and lost.
comparison  diplomacy  france  germany  economy  history  economist  today  debate 
october 2016 by aries1988
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