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. and I have been thinking about Beijing's warped sense of scale. All our friends who visit get confus…
theory  beijing  pedestrian  comfort  city  urban  metro  transport  comparison  map  digital 
18 days ago by aries1988
专访宪法学者张千帆:宪政文明的暖流会融化中国体制的坚冰|深度|端传媒 Initium Media
张千帆是中国最负盛名的宪法学者之一,研究领域包括比较宪法与行政法,司法制度,中西方政治、道德与法律思想。

我们必须理解,宪法规定的党的领导是抽象和一般的,不是指治国理政日常实践中各级领导人的具体行为。任何领导人都是会犯错误的凡人,譬如某个县委书记完全可能滥用职权。宪法规定的党的领导显然不是要神化任何领导人,否则就变成了人治,就抵触了宪法第五条规定的法治和依法治国。这些问题早在八十年代就得到清理并达成共识,现在不应该再成为问题。

因此,问题不在于党的领导,而在于如何领导。执政党需要通过宪法和法律去体现其意志,执政党的意志应该通过民主和法治程序体现出来,而不是通过各种讲话或指示。当然,执政党的行为可以通过制定党内规章加以规范,但这些法规、规章都必须符合宪法。事实上,你用宪法规定来坚持党的领导地位,这本身已表明执政党只能在宪法与合宪法律的框架内行使权力。否则,宪法没有意义的话,党的领导也就没有法律根基了。

实际上,世界上每个国家的政府都是不愿意实施宪法的,但民主国家的政府不得不实施宪法,最终是因为有选票,不实施宪法的话会得罪太多的选民,领导人当选了也会下台。但如果没有真正的选举,政府不用对公民负责,不实施宪法也没有什么后果。

如果双方都能了解对方的真实想法,共同点还是很容易找到的,因为央港博弈是一种“协调博弈”,而非零和博弈。中央的主要目标维持主权统一,香港则希望维持高度自治的空间和制度的完整性。在主权统一的基础之上,中央应该还是愿意去谈的。现在,中央可能对于香港有一些误解,好像主张港独的人越来越多;香港则觉得中央似乎越来越强硬,这样下去会对双方之间的情感和认知产生负面影响。

中国现体制可以被视为两次世界大战的国际“冰河期”形成的一块坚冰。现在冰河早已融化,世界主流文明一直处于自由民主的暖流中。记得刚打倒“四人帮”的时候,叶剑英就说过“坚冰已经打破,航道已经开通”。此言不虚,四十年改革开放其实就是暖流和坚冰的“热交换”过程。当然,摩擦还会不断发生,自由民主国家也会遇到移民、民粹、两极分化等问题的困扰,但是应该会有惊无险,社会契约即便破裂也会修复。如果今后若干年我们仍然处在一个温暖的国际大环境下,我相信世界文明暖流最终会化解每一块坚冰。
interview  opinion  constitution  china  hongkong  game  theory  democracy  today  future  leader  intelligentsia  reform  politics 
8 weeks ago by aries1988
为什么历史上会出现先进文明被落后文明征服的情况? - 知乎

有观点认为宋朝市民阶层活跃,官学私学兴起,皇帝与士大夫共天下,在人文精神方面堪比文艺复兴。一连串的窝囊废皇帝确实缺少权威,官民发声也是好事,但宋朝搞来搞去的人文精神,结果居然是推崇圣人训的程朱理学。“为天地立心,为生民立命,为往圣继绝学,为万世开太平”。这种酸腐的呓语被当做时代的强音,哪里有文艺复兴中质疑上帝说的影子?

经济繁荣之下,很多人会有很多奇思妙想并付诸实践。宋人先记录再说,不管是否成熟或能推广应用。夸大的文字描述与真实的技术功效之间,经常在有意无意中充满了欺骗性,最典型的例子就是沈括在《梦溪笔谈》中记述毕昇的泥活字印刷术。

元朝没能像法兰克王国扭转欧洲进程那样扭转中国的进程,其新拓展的疆域与汉文化不能相容。蒙古人和汉人的交流也不成功,在元末农民起义的大潮中,又退回蒙古高原,成为固守漠北的最后一支民族。

辽宋金元更替时期的另一个深远影响是中国的政治中心发生了变化。唐朝后期,关中平原因千年持续开发,植被破坏及水土流失严重,已无地利可言。唐末,长安、洛阳毁于战火,五代中除后唐定都洛阳,其他四朝均定都于华北平原的汴梁,随后北宋也顺势定都汴梁,完成了政治中心的一次东移。但是汴梁地理条件较差,地势过低,靠近黄河和大运河的便利不能抵消水患连连,最终在辽金的持续冲击下被放弃。
region  theory  history  war  state  civ  question  song  china  han 
9 weeks ago by aries1988
When Asia Ruled the World
Nonfiction The Pudong skyline, Shanghai. Credit Lauryn Ishak for The New York Times Amazon Local Booksellers Barnes and Noble When you purchase an independently…
contrarian  west  empire  conflict  world  war  success  europe  fail  qing  ottoman  book  opinion  history  prediction  theory 
11 weeks ago by aries1988
White Words – Popula
“Eskimos Have Fifty Words for Snow” is an amazing phrase, because every word in it is wrong.

For Boas, every language has its own unique features and complexity but nothing, in that account, would prevent Eskimo-speakers from learning English words for water or English-speakers from learning Eskimo words for snow. But Whorf takes that idea and emphasizes a mutual incomprehension flowing out of this difference: our singular term for snow “would be almost unthinkable” to an Eskimo, he suggests, and then hypothesizes an Eskimo who helpfully explains why he can’t think it, using phrases like “sensuously and operationally different.”
contrarian  language  theory  opinion  culture 
march 2019 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
人情、面子与关系:中国式人际关系背后的权力与话语权争夺

儒家在构思礼的时候,是用它来连接天人之间的关系的。在“天理人情”的说法中,理是天的运作规则,这个规则是自然规则,人不能改变,不能反抗,因此是命定的,而原初的情又是个人化的,能改变的,是随意的。在连接这个不变与变的过程中,先王(圣人)承天之道制定了礼,就是以天的名义来规范人的七情六欲,也就是想让人情来顺从天意。

孝,它不是作为生物性的后代对生者养者的自然感情的随意流露,而是对一种义务和伦理化的情感的控制。如果一个人能对自己父母有这份感情,然后将此感情再弥漫到长辈乃至于君王身上,最后就可以达到尽心知天命的境界,而人人如此便可以达到天下之大治。
theory  society  chinese  communication  confucianism  explained 
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
內亞海洋與帝國秩序(一):豐饒之海 – Zhongjing Liu | 劉仲敬 – Medium
人类的文明,我把它解释成一个规则生成和演化的过程。

真正规则产生的地方,就是我发明了一个名词叫「原始丰饶」来称呼它,很大一部分,甚至大部分,都产生在人类文字和文明以前的时代。为什么会产生在这个时代?照列维·斯特劳斯的解释,恰好就是因为文字和文明的产生,导致了管制系统的加强,因此原先在无文时代,比较自由而多元化的演化,在文明和管制体系产生以后,反而变得缓慢和单一了。

文字产生以后,唯一产生的东西就是官僚制度和国家制度,而发明的速度反而是减慢了。

如果你把世界看成是一种达尔文式的生态演化产物,那你就可以看出,规则在什么情况下能够最大限度的产生和演化。它应该是多元的,应该存在着许多个彼此之间相对孤立的小生态环境,局部规则在这样的小生态环境中间,能够充分的产生,在它产生做大以前,不会受到太多的干涉。它要有一定流动性,但是流动速度是有限的和缓慢的,也就是说,不同的小生态环境,以及各种不同的局部规则,要通过相互渗透接触和碰撞,不断地深化和演进。但是,速度不能快到席卷一切的地步。

这种环境之是不利于规则复杂度的演化的。

文明的核心区,表面上看是最繁荣,光华最盛的地方,恰好是消耗得最厉害的地方。

分为三种在时间上有交错,但是先后顺序还是很明显的类型:高地型,湿地型和草原型。

回顾文明最初产生的状态

一般人理解的文明,就是第二种类型的文明,在湿地建立起来的文明。一般来说这种文明能够供最大量的人口,可能人类的80–90%以上,都是来自于这种湿地的人口,能够建立起大帝国和强大的官僚机构,能够供养大批知识分子,能够建立巨大的神庙和公共建筑物的文明

第三种文明是产生最晚、草原型的文明。

他们不能独立存在,他们的某些至关紧要的物质需要通过交易,从其他周围的文明中取得,而自己没办法产生。所以这种文明一定是次生型的文明。

退到一个更加边远的草原地带以后,更加依赖草原以后,寻求新的技术突破,然后产生新型的文明。

这个文明的重要性在哪呢?它产生了对后来全世界影响很大的突破。它突破了军事技术,通过军事技术产生了军事贵族。而在次生型的大多数文明当中,军事贵族制度是他们宪法制度的核心。

后来产生的文明,特别是雅利安人入侵以后的文明,完全不是这个样子。他们的军事色彩是异常突出的,军事贵族始终在统治权力中间处于核心地位。

极大地加快了传播的速度。加快传播的速度,也就是意味着缩短了孤立系统独立演化规则的时间

武士跟奴隶不一样,商王也用大量的奴隶来殉葬,但是武士恐怕是自愿殉葬的。因为你很难强迫他们殉葬,

为什么这个技术来自中亚?到底还是因为中亚是草原上是竞争最激烈的地方,它是军事演化速度最快的地方。

西亚这个地方,从加息特人(原居于札格罗斯山脉中部。公元前16世纪初占据巴比伦,建立加息特王朝)入侵到雅利安人入侵,基本上几十年就一波

五胡十六国的入侵肯定是扮演了类似的军事革命。而西魏北周,建立隋唐的过程,可以看成是新一波的入侵和革新,残唐五代,一直到辽金元这个系统,又可以看成是一批新的边区武士系统的入侵。每一次都伴随着军事制度的改变和政治制度的相应改变。
china  civ  concep  theory  east-asia  middle-asia  technology  warrior  military  empire  evolution 
september 2018 by aries1988
中国人的公平观:表面追求大公无私 私下热爱厚黑学
这种历史上轮番争夺帝位的事件在日本的思维模式中却很难,因为A 的对立面不是非A ,而是B ,因此A 只能做自己的事,不能去想B 的事,A 也不能去占有属于B 的东西,这或许是日本天皇可以保留,实行君主制的逻辑根源。
theory  book  chinese  culture  thinking  comparison  concept  private  collective  justice  ethic 
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
What did Max Weber mean by the ‘spirit’ of capitalism? | Aeon Ideas
This modern ‘ethic’ or code of values was unlike any other that had gone before. Weber supposed that all previous ethics – that is, socially accepted codes of behaviour rather than the more abstract propositions made by theologians and philosophers – were religious. Religions supplied clear messages about how to behave in society in straightforward human terms, messages that were taken to be moral absolutes binding on all people. In the West this meant Christianity, and its most important social and ethical prescription came out of the Bible: ‘Love thy neighbour.’

The proliferation of knowledge and reflection on knowledge had made it impossible for any one person to know and survey it all. In a world which could not be grasped as a whole, and where there were no universally shared values, most people clung to the particular niche to which they were most committed: their job or profession. They treated their work as a post-religious calling, ‘an absolute end in itself’, and if the modern ‘ethic’ or ‘spirit’ had an ultimate found­ation, this was it.
explained  weber  book  idea  theory  capitalism  work 
june 2018 by aries1988
The red and green specialists: why human colour vision is so odd | Aeon Ideas
Most mammals rely on scent rather than sight. Look at a dog’s eyes, for example: they’re usually on the sides of its face, not close together and forward-facing like ours. Having eyes on the side is good for creating a broad field of vision, but b...
comparison  human  eye  color  perception  biology  insect  evolution  research  theory 
february 2018 by aries1988
The Scandinavians ‘hitchhiked’ their way to the boons of empire | Aeon Ideas

Imperialists came in many different varieties in the 19th century. Scandinavia and the US (outside of North America) point us to a more sophisticated understanding of empire. Some imperialists administered territory and opened markets. Others provided capital to build railways and link the global economy. Still others produced migratory labour or hauled commodities. Administering territory was the most prestigious job. But it was not the only way to be an imperialist. Profit and power could also be won by hitchhiking.
colonialism  scandinavia  history  today  capital  world  order  comparison  theory 
february 2018 by aries1988
刘仲敬:大清是如何输给日本的
从宏观角度来看,我们可以说当时世界存在的不只一种世界体系,欧洲的世界体系在签订了威斯特伐利亚条约,解构了教皇和皇帝在基督教世界最高权力以后,渐渐的创造了民族国家实体概念,由民族国家实体比较平稳地组成一个没有确定权威的国际关系网络,取代了教皇和皇帝领导的基督教文明共同体这个有最高权力体系的概念。然后这个体系随着时间推移,逐渐扩散到全世界。

与此同时,中国或者说是大清承袭了中国自古以来的天下国家或者说宇宙国家的体系,同时又加上了满蒙部族联盟这个统治核心的特点。天下国家的根本特点是它没有确定的行为主体,也没有确定的边界和主权的。

首善之区就是京师,离皇恩最近,所以它的道德水平是最高的,甚至皇帝作为天下的领袖,他的道德是最高的,他主要凭他的道德感召力量而不是凭他的赤裸裸的武力来迫使各地屈服。内环到外环的道德程度和管控能力都要相应的削弱,最后的“化外之地”蛮夷肯定是像没有长大的小孩一样,是完全不听话、捣乱的。

如果你承认英国跟清国是平行的国家,那么你肯定是大逆不道的,因为普天之下莫非王土,英国这些人虽然是不懂中文而且是蛮夷,毫无疑问也是皇上的臣民,你说它是跟皇上独立的国家,那你就是大逆不道。割地赔款反倒不是,因为割地赔款是一种犒赏性的行动,是教育小孩子懂得教化的一种贿赂性的做法,而且在天下国家体系当中没有入侵这件事情,因为没有在皇权之外存在着同等的权力,只有叛乱这回事,

所以撤换林则徐非但不是丧权辱国的行动,反而是皇帝遵守儒家教化和宪法原则的结果,因为英国人上X访是到皇帝面前鸣冤告状,因为林总督没有公正的对待他们,所以皇上在弄清是非曲直之前,一定要各打五十大板,首先要把主管官员撤掉,就好像说是某个地方有访X民到中央告状,中央处理问题一定是要回避,处理这个问题的官员先让他停职审X查,要不然有他在那里从中作梗的话,访X民绝对不可能得到公正待遇。道光皇帝当时就是这样的思维。

清廷人有双面性,他在面对内地的时候仍然要坚持他的德教原则和文治的原则,也就是说不能使用武力,或者说是不能过度的使用武力,只能维持一个极小规模的政府和军X队

一个共X产X党的政X权,你应该是不承认民主国家的原则,就像苏联一样,它和整个无产阶级世界处在战争状态,只有在共X产主义实现以后才能够按照共X产主义兄弟原则处理内部关系,对外的关系应该是一种永恒的无限制的战争,像列宁说的那样,是根本不受任何法律和规则约束的战争。事实上这个做不到。你要和占据绝对优势的西方国家打交道的话,你想完全拒绝接受西方的游戏规则和国际惯例的话,你将会陷入极其被动甚至有亡国之祸的情况下,所以你必须部分接受。

英国人要代表西方教会清国怎样在西方的游戏规则中作为一个普通国家生存而玩这种游戏

内地的保守派包括满族亲贵来允许它进行有限改革,因此它加入国际体系是半心半意的,这个强大的集团是隐性的,没有出现李鸿章这样杰出的首领,实际上他们的权X势要比李鸿章这方面要强大得多。而英国这一方面过高的估计了李鸿章这一系在清廷内部体制内的影响力,觉得他们的课业是很快就会成功的,因此在外交上往往是比较袒护清政府的。

清廷内部有强烈的声音说疏远的外藩我们本来就不在乎,但朝鲜不是,朝鲜是关系密切的内藩,我们如果再也维护不了大清的权威的话,那实在是说不过去

凡尔登大战死了几十万人,但是意义还没有攻占冬宫来得重要,攻占冬宫那次战役中间,其实列宁和克伦斯基双方的损失都是非常少的,但是严重的影响了历史路径

甲午战争这件事情,它的意义不在于它当时死了几个人,也不在于当时赔了点钱,其实从长期来看,这点钱其实也是无所谓的,关键在于它把日本推上了它渴望已久的地位,而清政府方面却根本没有意识到自己丧失了什么东西,它丧失的是机会。如果你丧失的是具体的钱和人,你知道你死了多少人,亏了多少钱,但是你丧失了机会的时候,如果你知识结构不完整的话,很可能你意识不到。而对于人或者对于国家来说,无形的机会才是最宝贵的,你丧失机会造成的损失远比你丧失钱或者丧失具体物品来得重要。

这条没有出路的道路从根本上讲就是清室无法割舍他自身维持的那个国际体系的结果,这一点不单单是清室自己的昏聩,应该说维持这种体系,在清廷内部应该是一个占据主流地位的舆论,清政府如果根据李鸿章的思路进行改革的话,反倒是非常不得人心、不得军心的。
japan  china  history  war  qing  19C  theory  civ  politics  state  comparison 
december 2017 by aries1988
Medicine’s Burning Question
“Inflammation is the final common pathway for pretty much all chronic diseases,” he told me. His recommended solution is an “anti-inflammatory diet”—omitting sugar, caffeine, beans, dairy, gluten, and processed foods, as well as taking a variety of supplements, including probiotics, fish oil, Vitamins C and D, and curcumin, a key molecule in turmeric.
question  medicine  research  theory  body  cancer 
december 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
How A Theory Of Crime And Policing Was Born, And Went Terribly Wrong : NPR
In 1969, Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist from Stanford University, ran an interesting field study. He abandoned two cars in two very different places: one in a mostly poor, crime-ridden section of New York City, and the other in a fairly affluent neighborhood of Palo Alto, Calif. Both cars were left without license plates and parked with their hoods up.
theory  crime  society  usa  african  american 
june 2017 by aries1988
Shaking Up the Dinosaur Family Tree

After analyzing 32 billion trees, the computer spat out the best possible arrangement of Mr. Baron’s three years’ worth of data collection. The run took just five minutes.
taxonomy  dinosaur  data  theory  discovery  biology 
march 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
Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

despite its lavish funding, neoliberalism remained at the margins. The postwar consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes’s economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarrassment, developing new public services and safety nets.

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream.

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Stedman Jones notes, it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised.

But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet’s Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.

Neoliberalism’s triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years.

the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.
capitalism  economy  ideology  crisis  theory  history  opinion  politics  liberalism 
november 2016 by aries1988
资本主义是怎么诞生的?历史社会学家这么说 | 政见 CNPolitics.org

为了回答这个问题,二十世纪中后期的一大波研究转而强调农业生产力发展的作用。在这批学者看来,十八世纪英国的特殊性不在于城市工商业精英的活跃,而在于农业生产力出现了质的飞跃。一方面,农业生产力发展解放了大量剩余劳动力;另一方面,农业生产创造了大量价值,这些价值进一步转化为工商业投资,这才有了工业革命。

彭慕兰给出了一个“资源决定论”的解释:将英国和中国区分开的关键因素是自然资源。英国在十八世纪发现了大量容易开采、运输的煤炭,同时美洲殖民地也向英国源源不断输送各种资源,这才使得英国在经济发展中占据关键优势。

孔诰烽认为,资本主义要想兴起,农业生产力的发达确实是必要的,但这只是必要条件之一。相对独立而活跃的城市工商业精英阶层,是另一个必要条件。农业发达、工商业精英活跃,这两个条件缺一不可。在孔诰烽看来,这一分析框架,能很好地解释英国、中国和日本在发展轨迹上的差异。

清代中后期的一个普遍趋势是,商人发家致富之后,往往热衷于办学校、鼓励子孙后代考科举、在农村购置地产。大量的商人家庭致力于转型成为吃俸禄的官僚阶层或者吃地租的士绅地主阶层,愿意代代经商的少之又少——这种现象在徽商群体中尤其突出。这一现象造成的结果是,虽然不断有平民通过经商致富,但商业资本无法一代一代地积累起来,也无法持续转化为工商业投资,而是最终“转回”到农业中。

孔诰烽指出,政府在处理城市阶级矛盾时倾向底层的立场,是导致工商业精英更愿意放弃经商、积极向官僚和地主士绅转型的重要因素。而工商业精英普遍热衷于向官僚和地主士绅转型,使得十八世纪的中国不存在真正独立而活跃的城市工商业精英阶层,也就无法将农业产出有效转化为自我增殖的工商业资本。

这样看来,明治维新之后的日本之所以能走上资本主义的发展道路,是因为政府通过繁重的农业税负将农业产出集中起来、进行工商业投资,在此过程中培育出相对活跃的城市工商业精英阶层。这个由国家“制造”的工商业精英,成为了日本迈向资本主义的关键。

针对孔诰烽的观点,另一位历史社会学家Mark Cohen提出了不同意见。在2015年发表于《美国社会学评论》的研究中,Cohen指出,要想真正弄清楚资本主义是如何到来的,就必须对前资本主义经济体的运行模式有更加透彻的理解。

在Cohen看来,前资本主义经济体的特征可以总结为两个基本要素。第一,农业生产是最为主要的生产活动,而作为农业生产直接参与者的农民,基本上是自给自足的——他们通过自己的生产来满足各种物质需要,基本不依赖于市场交换。第二,精英群体的收入来源是从农民那里掠夺他们农业产出的一部分,而这种掠夺主要通过政治手段完成——精英们的“掠夺权”来自于他们的政治地位或者手中所掌握的暴力工具,他们本身不直接介入农业生产。

前资本主义经济体中出现繁荣的商业并不奇怪,但这种商业有着特定的政治经济基础。随着农业生产力发展,政治精英们从农民手中掠夺的财富越来越多,他们的消费需求也越来越旺盛。前资本主义经济体中之所以出现商业,本质上是为了满足这些政治精英的消费需求,因为广大农民自给自足、基本上没有市场消费需求。

前资本主义经济体中的商业不可能一直繁荣,商人群体和商业财富也不可能通过工商业投资而持续扩大生产规模和市场贸易规模。(中国:科举+政治环境不稳定+私有财产保护法律欠缺)导致家族财产继承甚至不能得到保障)某种程度上说,转型成握有政治权力、靠掠夺农民为生的精英士绅阶层,根本就是商人群体所能选择的最为保险的长期策略。在Cohen看来,这是前资本主义经济体的普遍现象。

从Cohen的理论框架看,“活跃的城市工商业精英”本身并不是历史变革的逻辑起点,而只是一种更深层变革的表面现象。

在满足了“农业生产力持续发展”的物质条件之后,资本主义转型的核心问题,不在于城市工商业精英是否活跃,而在于这个倚仗政治权力的、不直接参与农业生产的、纯靠吃地租等方式掠夺农业产出的传统精英阶层——这个前资本主义经济体中最为关键的行动者群体——能否被消灭。

更深层的变革,便是打破前资本主义社会中“自给自足的小农——掠夺农民的精英”这个二元格局。只要这个二元格局不被打破,“活跃的城市工商业精英”就不可能出现。

历史社会学家Vivek Chibber指出,在十七世纪早期之前,英国的主要农业生产方式就已经变成了由土地所有者直接组织雇佣工人进行生产、通过市场交易将产出变为利润的“类资本主义”方式,“自给自足的小农——掠夺农民的精英”二元格局已不复存在。

Cohen, M. (2015). Historical sociology’s puzzle of the missing transitions: A case study of early modern Japan. American Sociological Review, 80(3), 603-625.
Hung, H. F. (2008). Agricultural revolution and elite reproduction in Qing China: The transition to capitalism debate revisited. American Sociological Review, 73(4), 569-588.
sociology  modern  history  uk  china  japan  debate  theory  economy  development  comparison 
october 2016 by aries1988
Does Chinese Civilization Come From Ancient Egypt?
On a cool Sunday evening in March, a geochemist named Sun Weidong gave a public lecture to an audience of laymen, students, and professors at the University of…
archaeology  chinese  origin  egypt  civ  theory 
september 2016 by aries1988
Class Consciousness - The New Yorker
One day, an Australian couple came to the restaurant. The man, thin and ascetic, with piercing eyes, started talking about an idealistic education system that had been introduced in Central Europe in the early twentieth century. Emphasizing the need to help children develop as individuals, it was based on ideas of reincarnation, free will, and individuality. After four days, the couple left, encouraging Harry and Li to stay in touch.

Steiner developed his educational philosophy in 1919, when the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory, in Stuttgart, asked him to set up a school for the employees’ children. Germany was in turmoil—a revolution followed the end of the First World War—and the new school was intended as a corrective to the harsh discipline of traditional schools. Steiner believed that children should be slowly guided out of what he termed “the etheric world,” where they existed prior to birth, and that education should engage first the hands, then the heart, then the brain. Waldorf-educated children play a lot when they’re young, and often don’t learn to read until second or third grade. After nearly a decade of studying Steiner’s system, Harry and Li returned to Chengdu, to start China’s first Waldorf school.
china  education  future  children  story  chinese  family  choice  kid  theory  debate  pioneer  moi  instapaper_favs 
april 2016 by aries1988
Business: Your Brain on Poverty: Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions
As Andrew Golis points out, this might suggest something even deeper than the idea that poverty's stress interferes with our ability to make good decisions. The inescapability of poverty weighs so heavily on the author that s/he abandons long-term planning entirely, because the short term needs are so great and the long-term gains so implausible. The train is just not coming. What if the psychology of poverty, which can appear so irrational to those not in poverty, is actually "the most rational response to a world of chaos and unpredictable outcomes," he wrote.
poverty  money  behavior  psychology  theory 
november 2013 by aries1988

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