Agassi on Science and its History
History of Science 科学史
子曰: 丘也幸, 苟有过, 人必知之. The Master said, “I am fortunate! If I have any errors, people are sure to know them.” (Confucian Analects 论语, 7:30.)
Agassi says, “It (science) is an endless process of error elimination.” 删除错误. 永无终止, 就是科学. (Science and its History 科学与其历史, preface 序, 2007, page xii 页, )
“The aim of this study is to encourage historians of science to write without beautifying, to examine the past without concealment of past errors and failings, especially important ones, and to worry more about engaging their readers in exciting intellectual adventure. From the start of my work on this project, over half a century ago, I could and did make use of wonderful examples. Their number is on the increase, and my hope is that the present work is helpful in helping the trend to grow.” (Preface, p. xiv.) 此研究在鼓励科学史家写科学史不要美化, 审察以往科学不要隐藏以往科学的错误和缺点, 尤其是重要的错误和缺点. 不如担心能否引导读者经历刺激兴奋的思维探索旅程. 我从事此研究工作过半世纪, 可以引用, 也实在引用了奇妙的实例, 其数量亦日见增益, 希望此研究有助于这趋势的成长. (序页xiv.)
“My main task is to discuss in some detail the distortions repeatedly and systematically disseminated as expressions of admiration for science. Science has no need for these distortions – or for any other. 我主要较详细讨论那些重复且有系统地发散的歪曲报道. 科学不需要这些歪曲, 也不需要任何其他歪曲.
When new research is promising, the public is informed about it with much fanfare. If the hope peters out, information about it is allowed to drop out of memory silently. 当新的研究很有希望有所成就时, 就鼓吹热闹地公告世人. 如果希望渐渐消失, 就静悄悄地让人们忘掉其信息. (这样不对.)
Let me mention a few examples. 让我举几个例.
The discovery of helium was an admirable achievement: it was observed on the sun before it was observed on earth. This is very exciting, as all we have here on earth is the radiation from the sun. Its color revealed the existence of a new element. 氦的发现是令人赞叹的成就: 先在太阳上观察到了, 然后才在地球上观察到. 可真令人兴奋, 因为我们在地球上只有从太阳而来的辐射, 其颜色透露了一个新元素的存在.
Now after the discovery of the ability to identify elements by the color of their radiation, astronomers observed more than one element on the sun, but these observations turned out to be mistaken: only helium remained. The concealment of this fact is understandable, yet mentioning it, not from spite, makes it easier to see the daring of those researchers who sought the fingerprints of elements in the solar radiation. 既然发现能够以辐射颜色认出元素, 天文学家在太阳上(错误以为)观察到的元素就不止一个了. 隐藏此(错误的)事实是可以谅解的, 可是提及(这些错误), 非出于鄙视, 却更可见那些研究学者的勇气, 他们要在太阳辐射中寻找元素的指模呢!
Similarly, when on theoretical grounds a physicist Hideki Yukawa claimed that there is an elementary particle other than the familiar electron, proton, and neutron, the test of his theory led to the finding of such a particle. It did not fit all that he had expected of it. 同样地, 当物理学家余卡瓦根据理论而声称我们所熟悉的电子,质子,中子以外, 还有另外一个基本粒子. 测验他的理论结果真找到了这样一个粒子. 可是却不完全符合他的预料期望.
Usually his success is praised and his disappointment is suppressed—seemingly out of respect for him. He does not need this kind of respect: like Oliver Cromwell, he could ask to be portrayed truthfully, warts and all. (科学史家) 通常都称赞余卡瓦的成功, 而隐藏他的失望: 看来是因为尊重他. 可是他不需要这种尊重: 像孔武, 他可以要求写真, 把他的一切如实描绘出来, 包括肉赘等等.
Now the concealment of the warts is regrettable; when it is reinforced by historians of science, it vitiates their work. This is the main point of this volume.” 隐藏肉赘故属可惜; 史学家更变本加厉, 那就破坏了科学家的研究意义. (Preface 序, page xviii页.)
Professor Gavoglu says, “One of the many aspects Agassi has forced us to pay attention to, are the errors and mistakes in the sciences as an integral part of their development. In this way he has helped bring to surface the significance of errors as part of the history of science. Science has not been an uninterrupted success story, unfolding the truths of nature. The “bad” moments of science will have to be regarded as “part and parcel” of science itself. The errors, especially all those that many scientists flippantly consider as errors “which could have been avoided”, Agassi tells us to consider them as additional instances in order to acquire a further insight into science. Few historians and, even fewer, philosophers of science have systematically studied this aspect of science.” (Kostus Gavoglu, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Athens. Foreword, page xiii.)
格沃鲁教授说: “艾格思要我们注意科学的错误是科学的发展及其历史所不可缺失的重要成分. 科学从来不是无间断开展自然真理的一回事. 科学的 “惨败” 经验是科学 “整体的成分”. 其错误, 尤其是很多科学家轻视为 “本来可以避免” 的错误, 艾格思却叫我们重视为附属事实利用来更深了解科学. 少有科学史家, 更少科学哲学家, 如此有系统地研究了科学这一方面.” (雅典大学科学史与科学哲学系格沃鲁教授序, 页xiii.)
子(?)曰: 圣人之过如日月之蚀, 人皆见之. Confucius (?) says,” A sage’s errors are like the sun and moon eclipses: everybody clearly sees them. Agassi says so indeed is King David’s error in the Bible. 艾格思说圣经大卫王的过错就是. (Preface 序.)
Four Views of Science 科学觀四论
Reading this book , as almost any other work of mine, requires no special prior knowledge. Let me repeat now all the philosophical nformation that I hope my readers will have some idea about as they read my works. 读我书, 不用专家, 知此四论可矣.
There are four traditions or views of science: intellectualism, empiricism, istrumentalism, and critical realism ; so are four types of historians and histories of science. 科学觀四论: 理智论,經驗论,工具论, 批判實在论 . 科学史亦是.
1. Intellectualism理智论. The oldest view of science is intellectualism: science rests on purely rational foundations, with no need to appeal to experience 科学唯心论. Foremost thinkers from Plato through Galileo and Descartes to Kant have advocated it 伯拉图, 加里略, 迪卡儿, 康德, 表表者也. Champions of the dominant view of science malign it 唯物论者诬蔑之. I will reluctantly ignore it here姑且不论.
Intellectualism fails 唯心论失败了. Each guarantee for correctness
invites a guarantee for its own correctness. This is the argument from infinite regress. 真的保证无穷后退.
2. Empiricism經驗论. The dominant view of science is empiricism– science rests on experience 科学基于经验– and inductivism 归纳法 (of Francis Bacon, the father of modernism) 陪根是也. It is the view of science as error avoidance: science disregards all tradition and relies on facts alone to guarantee the truth of its theories (or at least their high probability). 科学无错误, 摒弃传统, 独靠事实保证真理(或可靠性).
Inductivism fails too, and for the same reason for which intellectualism
does. 唯物论也失败了, 理由与唯心论同.
3. Instrumentaliwsm工具论. Consequently, instrumentalism (of Pierre Duhem) suggests that science is but a mathematical tool-kit杜恒以科学为数学工具. Depriving scientific theories of informative content, instrumentalists are left with no view of the world 科学理论非实相, 科学只是一门数学. They endorse some traditional or arbitrary views of the world that they shield from any possible impact from scientific discovery. Viewing science as merely practical (as applied mathematics) they cannot possible explain its practical success. 科学只是应用数学, 却不能解释科学的实用成就.
4. Critical Realism批判實在论. The only serious alternative to these theories is the critical view (Karl Popper) that takes scientific theories at face value as true or false and research as the process of proposing explanatory conjectures and undertaking their tests – their attempted refutations. It is an endless process of error elimination. 朴伯以批评就是科学, 科学理论不论真假反映宇宙真实,假设解释, 测验推翻, 删除错误, 永无终止, 就是科学.
History of Science: Idealised or Real
Are errors shameful or human? 错误可耻抑或人谁无错？
“The English novelist W. Somerset Maugham pokes sarcastic fun in his Cakes and Ale at an official biographer who renders the simple but human biography of a celebrated author into a boring picture of a popular idol; the omission of the human failings from the portrait in an attempt to make its object look larger than life, suggests Maugham, deprives that portrait of all possible human interest, gratify as it may the readers with poor taste. 英国小说家莫三瑟小说嘲笑传记正史把某驰名作者写成一个枯燥闷人的群众偶像的形状, 其隐藏漏掉该人物的人性缺点, 目的要把该人物写成超越真实生命的英雄. 可是莫三瑟却认为传记家剥夺了人物所有人性趣味, 虽然或者可以满足低级趣味的读者.
“Now Maugham himself is a very popular writer, and his own novel in which he thus scorns poor taste is perhaps his most successful, as well as his best. Thus, it seems, there is a wide market for both kinds of literature, the one Maugham pokes fun at, as well as the one to which Maugham’s putdown of it belongs. 莫三瑟本人是很受欢迎的作者, 他这本讥笑低级趣味的小说可能是他自己最成功的小说, 也可能是他最好的小说. (Science and Its History, page 1.)
“…. The chronicle of King David is a monument of bold realism, and the chronicle of King Solomon of equally bold idealization. Both chronicles were preserved in the Hebrew Scriptures because they were valued – each for its own merit. Hence it is an error to generalize and to view all idealizers as insincere and boring as the one that Maugham depicts. 大卫王的历史记载是大胆写真的不朽著作, 而所罗门王的记载是同样大胆的理想化. 所以看来两种文学都有广大市场.
“…. King David’s chronicler was the discoverer of a great idea that he boldly put to experimental test: he thought that the readers’ sympathy towards his hero could be maintained or even enhanced by presenting the hero’s human weaknesses. 大卫王的历史记载者是一个伟大的观念的发现者, 他大胆地实验测试了这观念: 他想即使呈示主角人物的人性弱点, 能保持甚至增加读者对他的主角人物的同情.
“Idealizing chroniclers are not necessarily insincere: they often consider mentioning certain details matters of bad taste, or as cramming pictures with distracting irrelevancies. 历史记载者把历史人物理想化, 他们不一定是不诚实: 他们常常认为提及某些细节是低级趣味的东西.
“In some cases, idealizations comprise uncritical or unrealistic attempts at preserving pet convictions. In these cases, perhaps, there is room for introducing new modes of critical realism. But not always.” 美化要保存钟爱信念，却有时大意失真, 可能要来新的真实审察．但又未必．(Page 1.)
Historians of science are the “chroniclers in the courts of science (p.1).” They belong to different schools or traditions and have different views about science, and they select and write different stories about science accordingly. 科学史家是 “科学法庭的历史记载者(页 1),” 有不同学派传统，撰写科学历史有不同的观点和方法．
Bacon’s philosophy of science and inductive method is to observe and observe facts (empiricism), and the facts will eventually yield and reveal their laws. (This is the method advocated by the Confucianist philosopher ZHU Xi 此乃朱子格物法.) To these historians, errors in science are embarrassing or even shameful. They want to “sift the grain (laws) from the chaff (errors).” 培根的科学哲学和归纳法要我们观察又观察事实(经验主义), 直至事实显现其定理. 对他们来说, 科学的错误令人尴尬, 甚至可耻. 他们要 “把谷粒(定理)从糟粕(错误)中篩出来.”(p. 117.)
This philosophy and inductive method both fail: They are “dead horses”. However, there is “merit in flogging (such) dead horses.” They are “reasonable errors” to be criticized with respect, for the most learned scholars have embraced and still hang on to them. 这归纳哲学与方法是失败的, 是 “死马”. 可是 “鞭打(这类)死马还是有功用的,” (p. 91.) 因为最有智慧的学者还忠守归纳法教条, 批评要尊敬有礼貌.
The section headlines in the Table of Contents (p. ix) of the book show Agassi’s points simply 本书目录清楚显示艾格思教授的论点:
II. “Towards an Historiography of science 科學史方法芻議” (pp. 119-)
1. “The inductivist philosophy paints ideas and event thinkers as black or white: Its criterion for whiteness is the up-to-date science textbook. 歸納法把科學家和科學研究分为黑的和白的:当代科学课本就是白的标准. (p. 125)
2. “The function of inductive histories of science is largely ritualistic, a kind of ancestor-worship.” 归纳法科学历史主要是一种拜祖先典礼，(p 131)
3. The standard problems of the inductivist historian largely concerns questions of whom to worship and for what reason.” 归纳法历史家的标准问题主要是拜祭谁和为何理由．(p. 131)
4. History of science—as it is and as it ought to be. For the inductivist, these are embarrassingly different.” 科学历史—真实的和应该如何的，两者并不相同，令对归纳派学者尴尬． (p. 135)
13. The advantage of avoiding being wise after the event is that this allows us to see the world with the eyes of those who participated in the event, and thus to explain it. 不事后作聪明有好处，让我们以当事人的眼睛看世界而作解释．(p.169.)
14. The difficulty of avoiding being wise after the event arises from having suppressed the reasonable errors that the event has corrected. 难以避免事后作聪明的原因是:该研究所纠正的合理的错误被隐蔽了(172-)
15. The obstacles on the way to a new idea are accepted reasonable errors that contradict it. 看是合理其实错误的成见阻碍成见所否定的新的理论．(p. 175.)
16. The obstacles on the way to a new factual discovery are the same. 阻碍新的事实的发现的理由也是一样． (p. 180.)
17. Orsted’s Discovery was difficult to make because it conflicted with Newton’s theory of force. 欧斯特的发现之所以困难是因为与牛顿的力学理论抵触．(p. 186.)
18. Historical explanation of any value is rare in the annals of the history of science, mainly because of a naïve acceptance of untenable philosophical principles. 在科学历史记载中甚少有价值的历史解释，原因是幼稚接纳了站不住的哲学原则． (p. 193.)
Induction归纳法: a Dead Horse 死马
“Dead horses may refuse to lie down for good reasons.
“Often the public – including the learned public – sticks to a specific theory in spite of its having been effectively criticized, and possibly for good reasons. Of course, the Baconian tendency is to dismiss such behavior as superstitious; but it is too easy and somewhat suspect to dismiss the whole scholarly world as superstitious. Of course, the majority, even the majority of the wisest, is not always right. But the majority of the wisest is not always unreasonable when rejecting some valid criticism. 群众, 包括有学问的群众, 常拥抱依附某一理论, 即使该理论已经被有效地批判倒了, 他们仍然不放弃该理论可能有好的理由. 当然, 陪根派学者倾向于认为这样的行为是迷信而摒弃之, 可是把整个学者世界视为迷信而摈弃之, 那太容易了, 也令人怀疑. 当然, 多数的群众, 就算最有智慧的多数群众, 也不永远是对的. 可是最有智慧的多数群众拒绝有些正确的批判时并不是永远不讲理的. (p. 97)
“Consider inductivism, the view that science rests on masses of observations and experiments, so that scientific theory rests on solid empirical foundations of incontestable data. Inductivism has been effectively criticized by Galileo, Hume, Kant, and Whewell, by Einstein and Popper, and by many others. Following the Baconian tradition of condemning all error one would have to condemn inductivism. As it happens, inductivism is the semi-official doctrine of science from the days of the foundation of the Royal Society of London to date. Condemnation is out of question.
就以归纳法为例, 认为科学基于大量的观察和实验, 故此科学理论建基于牢固不可争议的 “已知事实”. 归纳法已经被咖里略, 休姆, 康德, 休尔, 爱因斯坦与朴耙等等有效的批判为错误的科学方法. 根据陪根学派斥责摒弃所有错误的传统, 就应该斥责摒弃归纳法. 事实并不如此, 归纳法仍然是伦顿皇家学会自建立以来直至今日的半官式科学教旨信条. (p. 97)
“Flogging dead horses may help re-raise problems in new, interesting ways. 鞭打死马或可有助于把问题新鲜有趣的再提出来. (p. 104)
“Flogging dead horses may help present new interesting problems. 鞭打死马或可有助于提出新鲜有趣的问题 (p. 106)
“Critics are respectful towards the views they criticize 批判者尊重被批判的观点. (p. 41)
“A theory advocated despite its having often been criticized successfully may be debunked; more generally, a theory whose falsehood could easily be detected, may be debunked. In contrast, a theory that has not yet been criticized, and that is not easy to criticize, must be criticized with respect. 已经被成功批判倒的理论仍然被鼓吹的话, 这理论就可以摒弃; 更普遍的说, 容易察出其错假的理论可以摒弃. 相反地, 还没有给批判倒的理论,而且是不容易批判倒的理论, 必须尊重地给与批判. (Page 41.)
“Biographies of scientists should link the personal and the scientific. 科学家的传记应该连接其科学与其私事.” (p. 72.)
From: Science and its History: a Reassessment of the Historiography of Science,
by Joseph Agassi. Published by Springer, 2008．艾格思著, 2008 Springer 出版.
Chinese translation and comments by KWAN Lihuen. 关理煊(关健)中文翻译解释介绍. Canada 加拿大 2009.8.22. Draft 13稿. (4553 words, not counting the notes.)