剑桥雅思13Test4Passage3阅读原文翻译 Book Review 图书评论
剑桥雅思13 Test4 Passage3阅读原文翻译
‘Happiness is the ultimate goal because it is self-evidently good. If we are asked why happiness matters we can give no further external reason. It just obviously does matter.’ This pronouncement by Richard Layard, an economist and advocate of ‘positive psychology’, summarises the beliefs of many people today. For Layard and others like him, it is obvious that the purpose of government is to promote a state of collective well-being. The only question is how to achieve it, and here positive psychology – a supposed science that not only identifies what makes people happy but also allows their happiness to be measured – can show the way. Equipped with this science, they say, governments can secure happiness in society in a way they never could in the past.
It is an astonishingly crude and simple-minded way of thinking, and for that very reason increasingly popular. Those who think in this way are oblivious to the vast philosophical literature in which the meaning and value of happiness have been explored and questioned, and write as if nothing of any importance had been thought on the subject until it came to their attention. It was the philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) who was more than anyone else responsible for the development of this way of thinking. For Bentham it was obvious that the human good consists of pleasure and the absence of pain. The Greek philosopher Aristotle may have identified happiness with self-realisation in the 4th century BC, and thinkers throughout the ages may have struggled to reconcile the pursuit of happiness with other human values, but for Bentham all this was mere metaphysics or fiction. Without knowing anything much of him or the school of moral theory he established – since they are by education and intellectual conviction illiterate in the history of ideas – our advocates of positive psychology follow in his tracks in rejecting as outmoded and irrelevant pretty much the entirety of ethical reflection on human happiness to date.
But as William Davies notes in his recent book The Happiness Industry, the view that happiness is the only self-evident good is actually a way of limiting moral inquiry. One of the virtues of this rich, lucid and arresting book is that it places the current cult of happiness in a well-defined historical framework. Rightly, Davies begins his story with Bentham, noting that he was far more than a philosopher. Davies writes, ‘Bentham’s activities were those which we might now associate with a public sector management consultant’. In the 1790s, he wrote to the Home Office suggesting that the departments of government be linked together through a set of ‘conversation tubes’, and to the Bank of England with a design for a printing device that could produce unforgeable banknotes. He drew up plans for a ‘frigidarium’ to keep provisions such as meat, fish, fruit and vegetables fresh. His celebrated design for a prison to be known as a ‘Panopticon’, in which prisoners would be kept in solitary confinement while being visible at all times to the guards, was very nearly adopted. (Surprisingly, Davies does not discuss the fact that Bentham meant his Panopticon not just as a model prison but also as an instrument of control that could be applied to schools and factories.)
Bentham was also a pioneer of the ‘science of happiness’. If happiness is to be regarded as a science, it has to be measured, and Bentham suggested two ways in which this might be done. Viewing happiness as a complex of pleasurable sensations, he suggested that it might be quantified by measuring the human pulse rate. Alternatively, money could be used as the standard for quantification: if two different goods have the same price, it can be claimed that they produce the same quantity of pleasure in the consumer. Bentham was more attracted by the latter measure. By associating money so closely to inner experience, Davies writes, Bentham ‘set the stage for the entangling of psychological research and capitalism that would shape the business practices of the twentieth century’.
The Happiness Industry describes how the project of a science of happiness has become integral to capitalism. We learn much that is interesting about how economic problems are being redefined and treated as psychological maladies. In addition, Davies shows how the belief that inner states of pleasure and displeasure can be objectively measured has informed management studies and advertising. The tendency of thinkers such as J B Watson, the founder of behaviourism, was that human beings could be shaped, or manipulated, by policymakers and managers. Watson had no factual basis for his view of human action. When he became president of the American Psychological Association in 1915, he ‘had never even studied a single human being’: his research had been confined to experiments on white rats. Yet Watson’s reductive model is now widely applied, with ‘behaviour change’ becoming the goal of governments: in Britain, a ‘Behaviour Insights Team’ has been established by the government to study how people can be encouraged, at minimum cost to the public purse, to live in what are considered to be socially desirable ways.
《幸福产业》描述了辛福科学如何成为资本主义不可或缺的一部分。我们会了解到许多关于经济问题如何被重新定义为心理问题并进行处理的有趣现象。此外，Dvaies还展示了愉悦或者不愉悦的内心状态可以被客观测量的想法是如何影响管理研究和广告的。诸如行为主义的创始人J B Watson这样的思想家认为，政策制定者或者管理者可以塑造或操控人类。Watson有关人类行为的观点并没有任何事实依据。当他在1915年成为美国心理协会主席的时候，他“从来都没有研究过任何一个人类个体”。他的研究局限于小白鼠实验。然而，随着“行为改变”成为政府的目标，Watson的简化模型现在被广泛使用。在英国，政府建立“行为透视团队”来研究如何用最少的公共资金来鼓励人们以一种社会认可的方式生活。
Modem industrial societies appear to need the possibility of ever-increasing happiness to motivate them in their labours. But whatever its intellectual pedigree, the idea that governments should be responsible for promoting happiness is always a threat to human freedom.