Of the Sciences.


  Would you prevent crimes? Let liberty be attended with knowledge. As knowledge extends, the disadvantages which attend it diminish and the advantages increase. A daring impostor, who is always a man of some genius, is adored by the ignorant populace, and despised by men of understanding. Knowledge facilitates the comparison of objects, by showing them in different points of view. When the clouds of ignorance are dispelled by the radiance of knowledge, authority trembles, but the force of the laws remains immovable. Men of enlightened understanding must necessarily approve those useful conventions which are the foundation of public safety; they compare with the highest satisfaction, the inconsiderable portion of liberty of which they are deprived with the sum total sacrificed by others for their security; observing that they have only given up the pernicious liberty of injuring their fellow-creatures, they bless the throne, and the laws upon which it is established.

  It is false that the sciences have always been prejudicial to mankind. When they were so, the evil was inevitable. The multiplication of the human species on the face of the earth introduced war, the rudiments of arts, and the first laws, which were temporary compacts, arising from necessity, and perishing with it. This was the first philosophy, and its few elements were just, as indolence and want of sagacity in the early inhabitants of the world preserved them from error.

  But necessities increasing with the number of mankind, stronger and more lasting impressions were necessary to prevent their frequent relapses into a state of barbarity, which became every day more fatal. The first religious errors, which peopled the earth with false divinities, and created a world of invisible beings to govern the visible creation, were of the utmost service to mankind. The greatest benefactors to humanity were those who dared to deceive, and lead pliant ignorance to the foot of the altar. By presenting to the minds of the vulgar things out of the reach of their senses, which fled as they pursued, and always eluded their grasp which as, they never comprehended, they never despised, their different passions were united, and attached to a single object. This was the first transition of all nations from their savage state. Such was the necessary, and perhaps the only bond of all societies at their first formation. I speak not of the chosen people of God, to whom the most extraordinary miracles and the most signal favours supplied the place of human policy. But as it is the nature of error to subdivide itself ad infinitum, so the pretended knowledge which sprung from it, transformed mankind into a blind fanatic multitude, jarring and destroying each other in the labyrinth in which they were inclosed: hence it is not wonderful that some sensible and philosophic minds should regret the ancient state of barbarity. This was the first epoch, in which knowledge, or rather opinions, were fatal.

  The second may be found in the difficult and terrible passage from error to truth, from darkness to light. The violent shock between a mass of errors useful to the few and powerful, and the truths so important to the many and the weak, with the fermentation of passions excited on that occasion, were productive of infinite evils to unhappy mortals. In the study of history, whose principal periods, after certain intervals, much resemble each other, we frequently find, in the necessary passage from the obscurity of ignorance to the light of philosophy, and from tyranny to liberty, its natural consequence, one generation sacrificed to the happiness of the next. But when this flame is extinguished, and the world delivered from its evils, truth, after a very slow progress, sits down with monarchs on the throne, and is worshipped in the assemblies of nations. Shall we then believe, that light diffused among the people is more destructive than darkness, and that the knowledge of the relation of things can ever be fatal to mankind?

  Ignorance may indeed be less fatal than a small degree of knowledge, because this adds to the evils of ignorance, the inevitable errors of a confined view of things on this side the bounds of truth; but a man of enlightened understanding, appointed guardian of the laws, is the greatest blessing that a sovereign can bestow on a nation. Such a man is accustomed to behold truth, and not to fear it; unacquainted with the greatest part of those imaginary and insatiable necessities which so often put virtue to the proof, and accustomed to contemplate mankind from the most elevated point of view, he considers the nation as his family, and his fellow-citizens as brothers; the distance between the great and the vulgar appears to him the less as the number of mankind he has in view is greater.

  The philosopher has necessities and interests unknown to the vulgar, and the chief of these is not to belie in public the principles he taught in obscurity, and the habit of loving virtue for its own sake. A few such philosophers would constitute the happiness of a nation; which however would be but of short duration, unless by good laws the number were so increased as to lessen the probability of an improper choice.

上一篇:Of the Means of preventing Crimes.

下一篇:Of Magistrates.



第十四章 “明月几时有” - 来自《北京法源寺》

“到底指谁呢?”——同一个问题,在八指头陀死在法源寺后两年,一九一五年,中华民国四年,又被提起了。     这一年是令中国人痛苦的一年,因为中国人好不容易成立的中华民国,遭遇了空前的劫难——中华民国总统袁世凯居然做总统做得不满足,要当起皇帝来了。全国上下,一片劝进之声。     梁启超感到很可耻,他在天津家里,偷偷会见了从北京来的神秘人物,这人物不是别人,就是他十八年前在湖南时务学堂教书时的十六岁学生——改名蔡锷、蔡松坡的蔡艮寅。     蔡锷在戊戌政变以后,到日本读书,重新回到亡命日本的老师梁启超的门下。……去看看 

人本主义和真理 - 来自《实用主义》

接到《精神》(Mind)杂志编者寄给我布拉德莱《真理与 实践》一文的校样,我认为这是一个暗示,要我参加最近似 乎已认真开始的关于实用主义的争辩。既然我的名字已与这 运动分拆不开,我觉得我应该接受这暗示,特别因某些方面 曾对我过多地奖借,而另些方面可能也有不应有的诋毁。   首先,关于“实用主义”这名词,在我只曾用来表示一 种进行抽象讨论的方法。皮尔斯说:一个概念的重要意义是 在于:它的真,能够对某人产生具体的差别。只要把一切在 争论中的概念都拿这实用主义方法来考验,人们就不致犯无 谓的口角:如果两个陈述,此真或彼真,都是一……去看看 

第二章 中国文化与中国传统文化 - 来自《中国政治思想的起源》

第一节、文化与文明  中国文化是以华夏文化为主体,对华夏文化的研究是中国政治思想论题的切入点,因此,我们必须首先明晰:文化与文明、中国文化与中国传统文化,以及我们今天通常指谓的中国传统文化。   这是由政治思想与文明的密切联系决定的,也是当前学术研究中文化、文明与政治关系的混乱决定的。如,“什么是文化。当然定义文化的方式非常多,不同学者的定义方式会不一样,我个人比较接受费孝通先生的一个定义 ,他认为文化包含三个层次:第一个层次是生产、生活的工具,国家、社会用什么样的工具、器物来生产、生活。比如中国人用……去看看 

第九章 这不是演习 - 来自《世界是平的》

我们有能力塑造自己的文明,为了建设我们的社会,我们需要把自己的热情和勤劳投入到所追求的事业中。来到这片土地上的人们不仅仅是要建立一个新的国家。他们是在寻找一个新世界。所以我今天来到你们的校园,我要告诉你们,你们可以把前人们的梦想变成现实。让我们从现在开始,这样当未来我们回顾走过的历程时便可以说:就是从那时起,经过了一段漫长和辛勤的劳作,人们的才智得到开发,生活变得日益丰富。  ——林登B·约翰逊,1964  这里的大多数政治家并不清楚服务器和服务生的区别。这正是韩国的孩子们比南布朗克……去看看 

第06章 一个八岁的死刑陪绑者 - 来自《一百个人的十年》

1968年 8岁 女  Y省G市学龄前儿童   愈揪不出爸爸愈冒火——公安局确定反动标语是一米二左右孩子写的——糖果、看电 影、割掉爸爸的鼻子喂老虎——我被押到刑场面对一杆枪——“别怕,孩子,他们在逗你玩 儿呢!——为什么那次不枪毙我?——我是在童年就低下头的   你要求亲身经历文革的人自己口述,我想转述一个故事给你。这是当事人亲口讲给我 的。我一直打算把它写成小说,可是谈了你的《一百个人的十年》一些篇章后,觉得这故事 放在你的书中更合适,我想你很难找到这样一个深刻的典型,更能揭示“文革”的残酷性。   这……去看看