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知识是有害的(Knowledge is harmful)

已有 6492 次阅读 2008-8-11 15:37 |个人分类:创新思维|系统分类:观点评述|关键词:学者| 创新, 知识

 

 

说明:本文最初用英语写成,因考虑到大部分读者习惯于中文阅读,所以要简要译成中文。英文版本应该更为完整。

 

我们常常被告知:知识就是力量,知识就是金钱,似乎知识是完美无缺价值连城的了。结果就是大量的知识通过教育塞进我们的头脑,不管我们是否需要,是否重要。我们常常以在国际奥林匹克竞赛上拿到多少金牌而自豪,可奇怪的是在科学上中国人却乏善可陈。没有人可以否认我们的学生所掌握的知识是世界上最多的,但是这些学生却不能为科技做出很大的贡献,其原因是否与我们对于知识过于重视有关呢?

 

毫无疑问,知识具有有益的一面,所以本文的论点既不是知识有害无益,也不是知识弊大于利,本文仅仅指出长期以来被人们所忽视的知识有害的一面,并且希望通过对知识害处的认识,达到尽量减少其弊端的目的。

 

首先,知识可以减少好奇心。小孩对与外界事物显示出强烈的好奇心,因为他们一无所知。长大了之后,因为知道的东西多了,就会渐渐地丧失好奇心。例如,小孩可能会问:为什么指南针能够指向南北?可是我们有几个会问这样的问题呢?因为我们已经通过教科书知道了,由于地球的磁场作用与指南针,所以指南针指向南北。

 

但是现有的知识往往仅仅涉及到许多问题的表面。我们以为自己知道了指南针为什么指向南北,便不再关心这个问题。可是,为什么地球电磁场是指向南北,而不是指向东西或其他方向呢?为什么地球会有地磁场呢?其它星球会有吗,例如月亮,太阳?假如带一个指南针去月球,它也会指向南北吗?有多少人会问自己这些问题呢?我估计不到百分之一。

 

知识往往给出了一些问题的答案,对于大部分人而言,他们很满足这个答案了,其实这个答案仅仅触及到问题的皮毛。如果我们继续追问下去就会发现:其实我们一无所知。

 

更糟糕的是,习惯于去学习、接受知识可能会养成一种不良的习惯,就是总是习惯于去记忆却忽视了思考、批判和创造——这就是中国应试教育的后果之一。学习知识需要记忆,当思考、批判或创新时,记忆的效率会降低。所以为了提高记忆效率,为了尽快地记住知识,人们选择了放弃思考,放弃创造。

 

任何事物都是一分为二的,过于强调其中的一点往往会导致忽视另外的一点。对于知识重要性的强调,结果就是忽视了知识的潜在害处。

 

认识到知识的害处,怎样才能避免呢?首先是要知道我们其实一无所知,我们所有的知识仅仅是触及到问题的表面,在已有问题得到答案之后,不应该满足,而要继续追问到底,继续提出更深入的问题——唯有如此,我们才能永葆好奇心。第二是在记忆知识的时候,不要为了追求记忆的效率而放弃思考和创新。第三是要有所选择,要选择那些真正重要的知识去学习。人生的目标不应该是成为一个学富五车的饱学之士,这样的人不过是一个活的书橱罢了,更重要的是要利用所学知识去创造社会财富和新的知识。

 

 

 

We are taught to believe that knowledge is one of the most important things in the world, or knowledge is power in short. As a result, large amount of knowledge, from history to geology, from mathematics to chemistry, has been instilled into our mind. We take pride in the prize we have won in the international Olympic contests and the high score in the exams; however, everyone knows that we have attained little significant scientific achievement in China. No one can doubt the fact that Chinese students mastered the most knowledge, but it comes as a surprise that they can not contribute greatly to the scientific research. In my view, it is the result of our neglect of creativity. It is true that knowledge is beneficial, but if too much emphasis has been put on it, we may ignore the disadvantages of it. Knowledge serves as a two-edged sword, but the harmful side is generally ignored. So it is necessary for me to point out the demerits of knowledge and warn people against the negative effect derive from it.

 

To begin with, Knowledge may reduce our curiosity. A little child may manifest great curiosity in everything he sees. He may ask why the sky is blue, why the sun rises in the east, why water evaporates after being heated, why compass can direct to southward. In contrast, as an adult, how many of us will come up with these questions? The reason why we do not ask ourselves these questions is that we know the answer or we have the relevant knowledge. We know that because short wavelength blue ray scattered while penetrating the atmosphere so sky appeared to be blue. We know that because rotation of earth is from west to east, so the sun rises in the east. We are taught that while water is heated, the single molecule has a greater speed hence can escape from the water and this process is termed evaporation. We also know that the reason why compass can direct to southward is that the north magnetic pole of the earth places in Antarctic. Because we have the knowledge, we will not come up with new questions.

 

But our knowledge only skims the surface of the problem. A single example will serve to illustrate my point: It is true that because the north magnetic pole of the earth places in Antarctic so compass direct to southward, but why? Why the north magnetic pole located in Antarctic rather than arctic or other location such as the equator? How does the magnetic pole forms? In other planet or stars, such as the moon or mars, is their magnetic pole also located in their Antarctic region? Or do they have a magnetic field? I am sure 99.9 percent of the people will not come up with these questions. Because they think they have known the answer and they are content with the answer, so their curiosity in this problem declines.

 

 

Worse yet, people who is ready to learn new knowledge may develop bad habits, namely is always prepared to accept but ignore thinking and questioning. To gain new knowledge means you have to put your mind to memorizing it, but if you are absorbed in memorizing, you may neglect thinking and questioning because your attention is limited so you can not value two matters at the same time. Besides the fact that some existing knowledge is problematic, people who possesses lots of knowledge but can not create new knowledge and come up with questions is no more than a bookshelf. As Plutarch, the ancient Greek biologist and educator put it, the brain of student is not a container that nee to be filled with, but a torch requires to be ignited.

 

 

Any good thing will become bad if going to its extreme. Since we have attached so much importance to knowledge, there is every chance that we may be blind to the side effect of it, so it is high time that we realize the disadvantages of knowledge, because we will not avoid the side effect until we realize the demerits of it.

 

I must point out that my view is not the demerits of knowledge outweigh its merits. Generally speaking, the advantages we gain from knowledge are greater than the disadvantages. However, as a coin has two sides, knowledge also has some disadvantages but it is widely ignored. So I just want to point the negative effect of knowledge and hope we will avoid it through our realization of it. If you know something, you should keep in your mind that you only skims the surface of it, and

never stop coming up with new questions. When you are studying something, never forget thinking and coming up with new ideas while you are absorbed in memorizing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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