查尔斯·奥斯丁·比尔德《技术文明》 -经典文学英译-中英双语赏析

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TECHNOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION

By Charles A. Beard

 

TECHNOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION, by Charles A. Beard, in his Whither Mankind? , Longmans, Green and Company, publishers;reprinted in Lippmann and Nevins’s A Modern Reader, Boston, D.C.Heath and Company, 1936, pp. 166, 167.

Charles A. Beard (1874-1948), American historian, taught politics at Columbia University from 1907 to 1917. He went to Japan in 1922 to direct the Institute for Municipal Research in Tokyo, and next year was adviser to Viscount Goto, Japanese Minister for Home Affairs, after the great earthquake. Thereafter he devoted himself to writing and to activity in the affairs of civic and learned organizations.

What is called Western or modern civilization by way of contrast with the civilization of the Orient or medieval times is at bottom a civilization that rests upon machinery and science as distinguished from one founded upon agriculture or handicraft commerce. It is in reality a technological civilization. It is only about two hundred years old, and, far from shrinking in its influence, is steadily extending its area into agriculture as well as handicrafts. If the records of patent offices, the statistics of production, and the reports of laboratories furnish evidence worthy of credence, technological civilization, instead of showing signs of contraction, threatens to overcome and transform the whole globe.

Considered with respect to its intrinsic nature, technological civilization presents certain precise characteristics. It rests fundamentally on power-driven machinery which transcends the physical limits of its human directors, multiplying indefinitely the capacity for the production of goods. Science in all its branches—physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology—is the servant and upholder of this system. The day of crude invention being almost over, continuous research in the natural sciences is absolutely necessary to the extension of the machine and its market, thus forcing continuously the creation of new goods, new processes, and new modes of life. As the money for learning comes in increasing proportions from taxes on industry and gifts by the captains of capitalism, a steady growth in scientific endowments is to be expected, and the scientific curiosity thus aroused and stimulated will hardly fail to expand—and to invade all fields of thought with a technique of ever-refining subtlety. Affording the demand for the output of industry are the vast populations of the globe; hence mass production and marketing are inevitable concomitants of the machine routine.

For the present, machine civilization is associated with capitalism, under which large-scale production has risen to its present stage, but machine civilization is by no means synonymous with capitalism—that ever-changing system of exploitation. While the acquisitive instinct of the capitalist who builds factories and starts mass production is particularly emphasized by economists and is, no doubt, a factor of immense moment, it must not be forgotten that the acquisitive passion of the earth’s multitudes for the goods, the comforts, and the securities of the classes is an equal, if not a more important, force, and in any case is likely to survive capitalism as we know it. Few choose nakedness when they can be clothed, the frosts of winter when they can be warm, or the misery of bacterial diseases when sanitation is offered to them. In fact, the ascetics and flagellants of the world belong nowhere in the main stream of civilization—and are of dubious utility and service in any civilization.

Though machine civilization has here been treated as if it were an order, it in fact differs from all others in that it is highly dynamic, containing within itself the seeds of constant reconstruction. Everywhere agricultural civilizations of the pre-machine age have changed only slowly with the fluctuations of markets, the fortunes of governments, and the vicissitudes of knowledge, keeping their basic institutions intact from century to century. Pre-machine urban civilizations have likewise retained their essential characteristics through long lapses of time. But machine civilization based on technology, science, invention, and expanding markets must of necessity change—and rapidly. The order of steam is hardly established before electricity invades it; electricity hardly gains a fair start before the internal combustion engine overtakes it. There has never been anywhere in the world any order comparable with it, and all analogies drawn from the Middle Ages, classical antiquity, and the Orient are utterly inapplicable to its potentialities, offering no revelations as to its future.

Notes

technological civilization, a civilization that rests upon machinery, upon the industrial arts.

patent offices, the offices from which patents are issued. A patent is a government grant conferring to the inventor the exclusive privilege of making or selling a new invention.

credence, belief.

intrinsic nature, nature of the thing in and of itself naturally; inherent nature; essential nature.

concomitants, accompanying things; things that go along together with.

capitalism, dominance exerted by private capitalists, persons who possess capital or funds used in production.

synonymous, identical or coextensive m sense and usage with another of the same language.

exploitation, utilizing others to serve one’s own ends; making undue use of others.

acquisitive instinct, innate impulse to acquire things.

ascetics, those who practice severe self-discipline; severe abstinents.

flagellants, those who scourge themselves, who flog themselves, to cleanse themselves of sin.

dynamic, active, potent, energetic.

fluctuations, irregular variations; rise and fall; lack of stability.

analogies, reasoning from parallel cases; drawing conclusions from cases which seem to agree or to be similar.

potentialities, capacity of coming into being or action; latent powers;possibilities.

Questions

  1. On what does modern or Western civilization rest?
  2. How do we know that this modern civilization is extending its area of influence?
  3. What precise characteristics does technological civilization present?
  4. What are inevitable concomitants of the machine routine?
  5. With what is technological civilization associated?
  6. Is the acquisitive instinct of the earth’s multitudes a more important force than the acquisitive instinct of the capitalist?
  7. In what way is machine civilization dynamic? What can we say of the future of this civilization?

参考译文

【作品简介】

《技术文明》一文选自查尔斯·奥斯丁·比尔德所著《人类去往何处?》,由朗文·格林出版公司出版。后收录入李普曼及内文斯编写的《现代读本》,由波士顿的D. C.赫斯出版公司1936年出版,见于166—167页。

【作者简介】

查尔斯·奥斯丁·比尔德(1874—1948),美国历史学家,于1907年至1917年在哥伦比亚大学教授政治学,1922年赴日本任东京市政研究所所长。次年大地震后成为日本内务部部长后藤子爵的顾问,之后他投身于写作、公民事务及学术团体的活动。

技术文明

相比东方或中世纪文明,什么是西方或现代文明呢?根本上讲,前者以农业或手工艺商业为基础,后者则立足于机械和科学之上。其实这就是技术文明。迄今,它只有两百多年历史,其影响力不但没有减弱,反而稳步延伸到农业和手工业领域。如果从专利局登记簿、产量数据还有实验报告提供的可信证据来看的话,技术文明毫无萎靡迹象,反而虎视眈眈,要征服、改变全世界。

考虑到技术文明的内在本质,该文明表现出若干具体特征。从根本上说,技术文明依赖动力驱动的机械装置,这类装置超越了人工操作者的身体极限,能够无限地成倍增加商品生产力。科学在其分支学科里,包括物理、化学、生物、心理学等,起着支撑及服务本体系的作用。粗制滥造的年代已经过去,自然科学的持续研究绝对是机械发展和市场拓展的必要条件,这样才能不断推出新产品、提供新工艺、营造新的生活方式。科研经费的相应增长得益于工业税收和资本主义巨头的赠予,如此一来,便引发和刺激了大家对科学的好奇心。这种好奇心会蔓延,带着一种前所未有的敏感嗅觉介入到思想的各个领域。工业产出满足全球众多人口的需求,因此,伴随机械时代而来的必然是大规模生产与营销。

目前,机械文明与资本主义关联一起,促使大规模生产发展到了现今阶段。而机械文明绝不是资本主义,不是一个不断变化的剥削系统。资本家开设工厂并进行大量生产,经济学家特别强调其追求利益的本能,但这毫无疑问也是一个巨大推动力。必须谨记,大多数人们追求物品等级、舒适度及安全感的热情是相同的,这构成了上述的那种重要推动力。据我们了解,资本主义很可能就是在这种推动力下得以存在。能有衣穿,人们就不会选择光着身子;可以取暖,人们就不会选择受寒挨冻;能享受干净卫生的环境,人们就不会选择被病痛恶疾缠身。事实上,世上的苦行者和自笞者不属于主流文明,而且在所有文明中,他们的作用和贡献也值得怀疑。

在此我们把机械文明看作一种秩序,但实际上,这种秩序不同于其他,其本身具有活力及不断重构的属性。机械文明之前是农业文明时代,那时候的农业文明只是随市场波动、政府更迭、知识更新而缓慢改变,以确保其文明结构世代完整。同样,前机械时代的城市文明,也在长期的发展过程中保留了重要特征。而基于技术、科学、发明还有市场扩张的机械文明必须做出改变,而且要快速改变。电力刚一介入,蒸汽就建立了自己的地位。电力方才崭露头角,内燃机就独领风骚了。世上任何地方的任何秩序都无法与之相比,中世纪、古代经典还有东方世界的所总结的规律都无法解释其内涵,也无法启示其未来。

 

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