Agassi on Human Nature 性善恶论 edition 2 版 2075 words 字

Agassi on Human Nature[1] 性善恶论 


“Most cultures have always viewed the human race as evil, and the Moderns viewed it as good 从来多数文化都认为人性恶,现代看人性善。


“Both these views are extremist and false 两者都是极端论断,都是错误的论断. 


“This may be the most important single characteristic that depicts us uniquely as a new (global) culture, barely half-a-century old.  认为两者都是极端错误,此或新(地球)文化最重要的特徵,不过半世纪而已。


“We should take what is good in our different traditions and amend them to suit our tastes, especially our rejection of the view of the human race as good and the view of it as evil.  我们要选取我们不同文化传统的好处, 改善这些好处以适合我们的口味; 尤其是要摒弃性善论, 也摒弃性恶论.


“We should not decide whether we are good or evil; rather, we should decide whether we wish to relapse or to improve, and how exactly we should go about it.  我们不要决定性善或性恶; 我们不如决定我们要堕落抑或要进取, 与如何着手进行. ….


“We have to try to improve.  Common people understand this, and many are willing to act whenever they can see how.  我们要进取向上.  庸人也懂得应该进取这道理,  庸人每当见到如何可以进取的时候, 多数也愿意着手行动,进取向善. 


“We do not know how to improve, but we can try.  可是我们不可能 ‘知道’ 如何改善进步; 但是我们却可以尝试改善进步.


“We can express our autonomy this way这样,我们可以表现我们的自主能力,


 “and now that philosophy gave up hope to acquire certitude, autonomy is perhaps the only bedrock that philosophy can rest on.  而今哲学已经放弃 ‘确知’ 的奢望, 自主或者就是哲学的唯一基石. 


“At least this is a lovely idea, and an expression of the blessed desire for freedom and for the improvement of our common lot.  起码这是一个美好的主意, 也是我们追求自由的幸福愿望, 也可以改善我们的共同命运.


“It is worth a serious try.  值得尝试.”  



2009-09-20.  Kwan Asked 关问 



Chinese philosophers have argued for two thousand years whether human beings are born good or evil.  Confucius himself and the Buddha do not give an answer this way or the other.  


Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, condemn every baby as born evil, because their ancestors Adam and Eve ate a forbidden apple.   The Western baby grows up with guilt, low self-esteem, and hates himself. 



Chinese children are taught that they are born good, blessed by the heavens with a divine nature to cultivate and aspire towards sagehood.  As a principle in education, it is encouraging, and children need encouragement, not condemnation.  中国教孩子“人之初,性本善。”鼓励孩子向善。“错而能改,善莫大焉!”


Professor Joseph Agassi criticizes both views as extremist and false.  艾格思教授说性善性恶两个说法都偏激错误。

His solution? 他有什么解决办法呢?


Kwan asks 关问: If the two views contradict each other, isn’t one of them bound to be true?  Can they be both false?  Just as two statements one asserting the stars add up to an odd number, and the other asserting that the stars add up to an even number: neither is falsifiable, so the whole thing is useless metaphysics.  天上星星,总和是单数还是双数?两者说法都是玄虚无用。


Agassi says that nature often says no, but never says yes.  艾格思教授说 大自然常常说不对,可是从来不说对了。


Kwan asks 关问: Has nature ever said no to either view yet, i.e. whether humans are good or evil?  If human nature is good, Germany could not have produced and supported evil Hitler; so human nature cannot be good.  So, has nature said no?  问人性究竟是善还是恶,大自然答复了没有?如果人性善,德国不可能弄了个希特拉出来还支持他呢;因此人性不可能是善的。所以大自然说了不对了吗?


On the other hand, if human nature is evil, we could not have had noble humans like the Buddha or holy Jesus; so human nature cannot be evil.  So, has nature said no to the opposite view too?  相反,如果人性恶,人类不可能曾经有了世尊佛祖和耶稣圣人;因此人性不可能是恶的。所以大自然不是 对相反的观点也说了不对了吗?


Not only shall we have “The problem of evil”; we shall also have the “Problem of good”.  In both cases, we cannot explain the counter-examples. 这样,我们不单只要解释“为什么有恶的存在”这个基本哲学问题;我们还要解释“为什么有善的存在?” 的相反问题。


We may say some humans are born good, some evil. This is cheap, for if that is the case, there is no such thing as human nature at all.  And we have to explain how some good babies become evil adults, and some vicious children mature as kind grown-ups.  Ad infinitum.  或曰有些人天生善,有些人天生恶。 这样说太便宜了, 因为那就根本没有所谓人性这回事了。而且我们还要解释为什么有些善良的孩子长大成为恶人,为什么有些恶意孩子长大成为仁慈的善人。


The Buddha will not answer either this way or the other.  He says, “Never mind whether the arrow is iron or copper, whether the universe is finite or infinite: save the injured person first.”  Confucius also says, “Never mind whether there is life or no life after death, live this life first.”  佛对两者都不置可否。佛说:“甭管箭是铜是铁,甭管宇宙有限无限,先救了伤者。”  孔子也说:“未知生,焉知死。”


Agassi, following Popper, says the same thing, sharply and ‘scientifically’.  My fifty-year-doubt is finally answered.  中国几两千年的哲学争论,给科学哲学家艾格思解决了。总之,“错而能改,善莫大焉!”  这就是科学,也就是理学。


Shalom! 祝幸福平安! 



KWAN Lihuen (LH Kwan)      


—– Original Message 原件—–

From : Peter Ballin 包比德  

Sent: Sunday 星期日, September 20, 2009 年九月二十日下午5:19 PM

Us Jews aren’t born evil. We are taught to be guilty.  并非我们犹太人生来罪恶. 是教了我们自觉有罪.

What i believe is part of human nature is the tendency to 
dichotomize, to polarize 我相信部分人性倾向两分化, 两极化. This may be useful to gain perspective 此或有助於增广视野, but 
rarely will either extreme bare absolute truth 可是各极端罕能显示绝对真理. Unfortunately 可惜, those 那些
who deem themselves to possess such truth 自认为拥有真理的人 are often dangerous 常是危险人物. 

Peter 比德 

 —– Original Message —–

From: joseph agassi

To: Lihuen Kwan

Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2009 11:48 PM

Subject: Re: Agassi on Human Nature 性善恶论


you surprise me. between a and not-a, one is true. not-a-and-b also contradicts a, yet if a and b are both false then so are both a and the statement not-a-and-b that contradicts it. if rich means not-poor than everyone is either rich or poor. but this is an error: one can be not-poor and not-rich at the same time.

it was Einstein who said, (in response to a test of a hypothesis) at times nature says no and at times it says maybe, but it never says yes. 









Joseph Agassi 约瑟夫.艾格思
WebPages 网页:




Chinese translation by KWAN Lihuen 关理煊 (LH Kwan 关健) 中译

Canada 加拿大2009-09-22 edtion 3 版(2075 words 字)



[1] Professor Joseph Agassi: Science and Culture. 艾格思教授著<科学与文化>, Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers波士顿/伦敦: 库鲁瓦出版社, 2003, page xxvii 页, lines 2-9, 13-19 行.


Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: