幾天沒見,大家有沒有想念小明呢?今天這篇文章,是我們的Leo Zhu(朱瓏)的強推和至愛。小明想要把它分享出來,獻給所有為擺脫沉悶而孜然以求的人,所有以熱戀的情態去探索和勞作的人,所有沉默寡言卻心有所向的人,所有胸中有物、眼中有光的人。

探索的動機

Albert Einstein

在科學的神殿里有許多樓閣,住在里面的人真是各式各樣,而引導他們到那里去的動機也各不相同。有許多人愛好科學是因為科學給他們以超乎常人的智力上的快感,科學是他們自己的特殊娛樂,他們在這種娛樂中尋求生動活潑的經驗和對他們自己雄心壯志的滿足。在這座神殿里,另外還有許多人是為了純粹功利的目的而把他們的腦力產物奉獻到祭壇上的。如果上帝的一位天使跑來把所有屬于這兩類的人都趕出神殿,那么集結在那里的人數就會大大減少,但是,仍然會有一些人留在里面,其中有古人,也有今人,我們的普朗克就是其中之一,這也就是我們所以愛戴他的原因。 

我很明白在剛才的想象中被輕易逐出的人里面也有許多卓越的人物,他們在建筑科學神殿中做出過很大的也許是主要的貢獻;在許多情況下,我們的天使也會覺得難以決定誰該不該被趕走。但有一點我可以肯定,如果神殿里只有被驅逐的那兩類人,那么這座神殿決不會存在,正如只有蔓草就不成其為森林一樣。因為對于這些人來說,只要碰上機會,任何人類活動的領域都是合適的:他們究竟成為工程師、官吏、商人還是科學家,完全取決于環境?,F在讓我們再來看看那些得到天使寵愛而留下來的人吧。 

他們大多數是沉默寡言的、相當怪僻和孤獨的人,但盡管有這些共同特點,他們之間卻不像那些被趕走的一群那樣彼此相似。究竟是什么力量把他們引到這座神殿中來的呢?這是一個難題,不能籠統地用一句話來回答。首先我同意叔本華所說的,把人們引向藝術和科學的最強烈的動機之一,是要逃避日常生活中令人厭惡的粗俗和使人絕望的沉悶,是要擺脫人們自由變化不定的欲望的桎梏。一個修養有素的人總是渴望逃避個人生活而進入客觀知覺和思維的世界——這種愿望好比城市里的人渴望逃避熙來攘往的環境,而到高山上享受幽寂的生活。在那里透過清凈純潔的空氣,可以自由地眺望、沉醉地欣賞那似乎是為永恒而設計的寧靜景色。 

除了這種消極的動機外,還有一種積極的動機。人們總想以最適合于他自己的方式,畫出一幅簡單的和可理解的世界圖像,然后他就試圖用他的這種世界體系來代替經驗的世界,并征服后者。這就是畫家、詩人、思辨哲學家和自然科學家各按自己的方式去做的事。各人把世界體系及其構成作為他的感情生活的中樞,以便由此找到他在個人經驗的狹小范圍內所不能找到的寧靜和安定。 

在所有可能的圖像中,理論物理學家的世界圖像占有什么地位呢?在描述各種關系時,它要求嚴密的精確性達到那種只有用數學語言才能達到的最高的標準。另一方面,物理學家必須極其嚴格地控制他的主題范圍,必須滿足于描述我們經驗領域里的最簡單事件。對于一切更為復雜的事件企圖以理論物理學家所要求的精密性和邏輯上的完備性把它們重演出來,這就超出了人類理智所能及的范圍。高度的純粹性、明晰性和確定性要以完整性為代價。但是當人們膽小謹慎地把一切比較復雜而難以捉摸的東西都撇開不管時,那么能吸引我們去認識自然界的這一渺小部分的,究竟又是什么呢?難道這種謹小慎微的努力結果也夠得上宇宙理論的美名嗎? 

我認為,夠得上的。因為,作為理論物理學結構基礎的普遍定律,應當對任何自然現象都有效。有了它們,就有可能借助于單純的演繹得出一切自然過程(包括生命過程)的描述,也就是它們的理論,只要這種演繹過程并不超出人類理智能力太多。因此,物理學家放棄他的世界體系的完整性,倒不是一個什么根本原則問題。 

物理學家的最高使命是得到那些普遍的基本定律,由此世界體系就能用單純的演繹法建立起來。要通向這些定律,沒有邏輯推理的途徑,只有通過建立在經驗的同感的理解之上的那種直覺。由于這種方法論上的不確定性,人們將認為這樣就會有多種可能同樣適用的理論物理學體系,這個看法在理論上無疑是正確的。但是物理學的發展表明,在某一時期里,在所有可想到的解釋中,總有一個比其他的一些都高明得多。凡是真正深入研究過這一問題的人,都不會否認唯一決定理論體系的實際上是現象世界,盡管在現象和他們的理論原理之間并沒有邏輯的橋梁;這就是萊布尼茨非常中肯地表述過的“先天的和諧”。物理學家往往責備研究認識論的人沒有足夠注意這個事實。我認為,幾年前馬赫和普朗克的論戰,根源就在這里。

渴望看到這種先天的和諧,是無窮的毅力和耐心的源泉。我們看到,普朗克就是因此而專心致志于這門科學中的最普遍的問題,而不是使自己分心于比較愉快的和容易達到的目標上去的人。我常常聽說,同事們試圖把他的這種態度歸因于非凡的意志和修養,但我認為這是錯誤的。促使人們去做這種工作的精神狀態,是同宗教信奉者或談戀愛的人的精神狀態相類似的,他們每日的努力并非來自深思熟慮的意向或計劃,而是直接來自激情。我們敬愛的普朗克今天就坐在這里,內心在笑我像孩子一樣提著第歐根尼的風燈鬧著玩。我們對他的愛戴不需要作老生常談的說明,我們但愿他對科學的熱愛將繼續照亮他未來的道路,并引導他去解決今天理論物理學的最重要的問題。這問題是他自己提出來的,并且為了解決這問題他已經做了很多工作。祝他成功地把量子論同電動力學、力學統一于一個單一的邏輯體系里。

(以上是愛因斯坦在柏林物理學會舉辦的紀念Max Planck的60歲生日演講會上的演講。)

 

Principles of Research

by Albert Einstein

[The following piece was a speech written by Albert Einstein for Max Planck's 60th birthday.]

In the temple of science are many mansions, and various indeed are they that dwell therein and the motives that have led them thither. Many take to science out of a joyful sense of superior intellectual power; science is their own special sport to which they look for vivid experience and the satisfaction of ambition; many others are to be found in the temple who have offered the products of their brains on this altar for purely utilitarian purposes. Were an angel of the Lord to come and drive all the people belonging to these two categories out of the temple, the assemblage would be seriously depleted, but there would still be some men, of both present and past times, left inside. Our Planck is one of them, and that is why we love him.

I am quite aware that we have just now light-heartedly expelled in imagination many excellent men who are largely, perhaps chiefly, responsible for the building of the temple of science; and in many cases our angel would find it a pretty ticklish job to decide. But of one thing I feel sure: if the types we have just expelled were the only types there were, the temple would never have come to be, any more than a forest can grow which consists of nothing but creepers. For these people any sphere of human activity will do, if it comes to a point; whether they become engineers, officers, tradesmen, or scientists depends on circumstances. Now let us have another look at those who have found favor with the angel.

Most of them are somewhat odd, uncommunicative, solitary fellows, really less like each other, in spite of these common characteristics, than the hosts of the rejected. What has brought them to the temple? That is a difficult question and no single answer will cover it. To begin with, I believe with Schopenhauer that one of the strongest motives that leads men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from personal life into the world of objective perception and thought; this desire may be compared with the townsman's irresistible longing to escape from his noisy, cramped surroundings into the silence of high mountains, where the eye ranges freely through the still, pure air and fondly traces out the restful contours apparently built for eternity.

With this negative motive there goes a positive one. Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world; he then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, the speculative philosopher, and the natural scientist do, each in his own fashion. Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.

What place does the theoretical physicist's picture of the world occupy among all these possible pictures? It demands the highest possible standard of rigorous precision in the description of relations, such as only the use of mathematical language can give. In regard to his subject matter, on the other hand, the physicist has to limit himself very severely: he must content himself with describing the most simple events which can be brought within the domain of our experience; all events of a more complex order are beyond the power of the human intellect to reconstruct with the subtle accuracy and logical perfection which the theoretical physicist demands. Supreme purity, clarity, and certainty at the cost of completeness. But what can be the attraction of getting to know such a tiny section of nature thoroughly, while one leaves everything subtler and more complex shyly and timidly alone? Does the product of such a modest effort deserve to be called by the proud name of a theory of the universe?

In my belief the name is justified; for the general laws on which the structure of theoretical physics is based claim to be valid for any natural phenomenon whatsoever. With them, it ought to be possible to arrive at the description, that is to say, the theory, of every natural process, including life, by means of pure deduction, if that process of deduction were not far beyond the capacity of the human intellect. The physicist's renunciation of completeness for his cosmos is therefore not a matter of fundamental principle.

The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them. In this methodological uncertainty, one might suppose that there were any number of possible systems of theoretical physics all equally well justified; and this opinion is no doubt correct, theoretically. But the development of physics has shown that at any given moment, out of all conceivable constructions, a single one has always proved itself decidedly superior to all the rest. Nobody who has really gone deeply into the matter will deny that in practice the world of phenomena uniquely determines the theoretical system, in spite of the fact that there is no logical bridge between phenomena and their theoretical principles; this is what Leibnitz described so happily as a "pre-established harmony." Physicists often accuse epistemologists of not paying sufficient attention to this fact. Here, it seems to me, lie the roots of the controversy carried on some years ago between Mach and Planck.

The longing to behold this pre-established harmony is the source of the inexhaustible patience and perseverance with which Planck has devoted himself, as we see, to the most general problems of our science, refusing to let himself be diverted to more grateful and more easily attained ends. I have often heard colleagues try to attribute this attitude of his to extra-ordinary will-power and discipline -wrongly, in my opinion. The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshiper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart. There he sits, our beloved Planck, and smiles inside himself at my childish playing-about with the lantern of Diogenes. Our affection for him needs no threadbare explanation. May the love of science continue to illumine his path in the future and lead him to the solution of the most important problem in present-day physics, which he has himself posed and done so much to solve. May he succeed in uniting quantum theory with electrodynamics and mechanics in a single logical system.

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