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To economic historians like Joel Mokyr,there's nothing inevitable about the incredible wealth and health of the modernworld. But for a spark in a little corner of Europe that ignited the IndustrialRevolution — which spread incredible advances in technology and livingstandards first across the north Atlantic coast in the 1700 and 1800s andgradually around the world — we could all be living the nasty, brutish lives ofour ancestors centuries before.

对于像乔尔•莫凯尔这样的经济历史学家来说,现代世界不可思议的财富和发展并不是注定的。但是,当欧洲某个角落的火花点燃了工业革命——这场工业革命在技术和生活水平上导致了惊人的进步,首先是在1700和1800年代,在北大西洋沿岸,然后逐渐在全世界传播——在这之前的几个世纪,我们可能都和我们祖先一样过着肮脏、野蛮的生活。

Mokyr, who teaches at NorthwesternUniversity, dives into the mystery of how the world went from being poor tobeing so rich in just a few centuries in a forthcoming book, “A Culture ofGrowth: The Origins of the Modern Economy.”

莫凯尔在西北大学任教,他在即将出版的一本书《文化的进步:现代经济的起源》中深入探讨了这个世界如何在几个世纪内从贫穷走向富裕的奥秘。

Mokyr argues that there's a reason theIndustrial Revolution occurred in Europe and not, for example, in China, whichhad in previous centuries shown signs of more scientific advancement: Europedeveloped a unique culture of competitive scientific and intellectualadvancement that was unprecedented and not at all predestined.

莫凯尔认为,工业革命发生在欧洲,而不是中国,这是有原因的。中国,在过去的岁月里,给我们的印象是科学技术更加发达,而欧洲,则出现了独特的竞争性科学、进步的文明,这是史无前列的,并不是命中注定的。

Why the Industrial Revolution occurred?

工业革命为什么会发生呢?



That came out of Western Europe and itsoffshoot in North America after 1800. If it hadn’t been for that, you and Iwould be looking at a life expectancy of maybe 40, and I probably I wouldn’t besipping cappuccino from a fancy machine and talking to you on my smartphone.Look at what we have achieved in every dimension. Technology hasn’t justincreased our income, it’s changed every aspect of daily life.

这种变化是1800年后从西欧及北美慢慢演变出来的。如果不是那样的话,我和你的预期寿命大概只有40岁,我可能不会喝高档咖啡机里的卡布奇诺,没法用智能手机跟你说话。看看我们在各个方面都取得了什么成就。科技不仅增加了我们的收入,而且改变了我们日常生活的方方面面。

The question is, was all this inevitable?My answer is, absolutely no.

问题是,这一切是注定的吗?我的答案是,绝对不是。

So why did this dramatic change occur? Andwhy did it start in Europe, rather than in China?

那么,为什么会发生这种戏剧性的变化呢?为什么它是从欧洲而不是中国开始的?

China has a glorious past in its scientificachievements. And yet they were never able to turn it into economic growth asthe West did. If you look at Europe and China in the 19th century, Europe isadvancing at breathtaking speed. It’s building a rail network, steamships,factories. By the early 20th century, China looked like it was going to becompletely occupied by imperialist powers. Clearly the technological andeconomic development of East and West diverged from 1850 on. The question is“Why?”

中国的科学成就有着辉煌的历史。然而,他们却无法像西方那样将其转化为经济增长。如果你看看19世纪的欧洲和中国,欧洲正以惊人的速度前进,它正在建设铁路网,轮船,工厂。到20世纪初,中国却几乎完全被帝国主义列强占领了。显然,东西方的技术和经济发展从1850年开始出现了变化。问题是这个变化的原因是什么呢?



I think that is the major difference. Itisn’t just that China doesn’t have an Industrial Revolution, it doesn’t have aGalileo or a Newton or a Descartes, people who announced that everything peopledid before them was wrong. That’s hard to do in any society, but it was easierto do in Europe than China. The reason precisely is because Europe wasfragmented, and so when somebody says something very novel and radical, if thegovernment decides they are a heretic and threatens to prosecute them, theypack their suitcase and go across the border.

我认为这是主要的区别。不仅仅是工业革命没有在中国发生的原因,而且也是为什么中国没有伽利略、牛顿或笛卡尔的原因,这些人宣称人们在他们之前所做的一切都是错误的。这在任何社会都很难做到,但在欧洲比在中国更容易做到。原因正是因为欧洲的四分五裂,所以当有人说一些非常新颖和激进的话时,如果当权者认为他们是异端,并威胁要起诉他们,他们就打包行李,去到另外的国家。

Europe creates a competitive world thatencourages intellectual innovation. There’s the Reformation, which says thereligion you had until now is wrong. The same happens in
astronomy, chemistry,medicine, mathematics and philosophy. Eventually, it filters down to how wemake textiles and shoes, and how we grow corn.

欧洲创造了一个鼓励科学创新的竞争世界。宗教改革认为之前的宗教信仰是错误的,天文学、化学、医学、数学和哲学也是如此。最终,它延伸到我们如何制造纺织品和鞋子,以及我们如何种植玉米。

I want to make clear, very few serioushistorians think China failed. China wanted stability and security, and theyachieved that for a long time. The Europeans don’t want stability. They wantprogress. Of course, China’s stability gets disrupted by Europeans showing upwith more powerful ships and guns. Eventually, China crumbles under theonslaught of European modernity. It’s quite a tragic story.

我想说清楚,很少有严肃的历史学家认为中国失败了。中国需要稳定和安全,他们实现这一目标的时间很长。欧洲人不希望稳定,他们想要进步。当然,中国的稳定会因为欧洲人带着更强大的船只和枪支而受到破坏。最终,中国在欧洲现代性的冲击下崩溃。这是一个很悲惨的故事。

Between Columbus’s voyage to America in1492 and the death of Isaac Newton in 1727, the agenda of research in Europechanges. For much of human history, people studied science and naturalphenomena, not to make us materially better off, but just to satisfy curiosity.The ancient Greeks made fantastic scientific progress, but there are fewinstances in which they use it for anything. In fact, Aristotle says scienceshouldn’t be used, because work is something for the lower classes. Learnedpeople didn’t work, and working people didn’t learn.

从1492年哥伦布发现美洲之旅到1727年牛顿的去世,欧洲的研究不断的发生变化。在人类历史的大部分时间里,人们研究科学和自然现象,不是为了让我们物质上更富裕,而是为了满足好奇心。古希腊人取得了惊人的科学进步,但很少有人用它来做任何事情。事实上,亚里士多德说科学不应该被使用,因为工作是由底层阶级去做的。有学问的人不工作,有工作的人不学习。

Before the Industrial Revolution, learnedpeople in Europe changed the agenda. They say, “Look, we should study nature,but we should do so to improve our material welfare.” To people today, thissounds totally obvious. But it wasn’t in the year 1600. By the 18th century,this has become the consensus. That's what I call the Industrial Enlightenment.

在工业革命之前,欧洲的科学家改变了这一点。他们说,“看,我们应该学习自然,但我们应该这样做,以提高我们的物质福利。”对今天的人们来说,这听起来非常正常。但在16世纪到18世纪那段时期并不是这样的,这就是我所说的工业启蒙运动。



I believe the fundamental reason is China’sposition as a single empire, and also its bureaucracy, which is a unique andpeculiar animal. On the one hand, it is very progressive, because it is ameritocracy. In Europe, the people who were in power were the sons and nephewsof other people in power. But in China there’s an examination, and the peoplewho did the best rose in the Mandarin civil service. So you’d think, “Wow,that’s very progressive.” Except if you look at what they were studying forthese exams, they were simply regurgitating the classics. It was the perfecttool to keep reproducing from the same mold generation after generation.

我认为最根本的原因是中国一直都是一个统一的单一帝国,以及它的官僚制度,这是一种非常独特的文化。这在一方面,让它非常进步,因为它代表了一种精英获得权利的制度。在欧洲,权利在贵族的家族之间流传,而在中国,科举制度,优胜者会脱颖而出成为官员。所以你会想,“哇,这是非常进步的。”但你看看他们为科举而学习的东西,他们只是在重复他们的历史典籍而已,这是一个完美的制度,一代又一代复制相同的模式。

In Europe, something different happens.People study classical knowledge, Ptolemy and Hippocrates and Archimedes, andthey begin to say, “Most of this stuff is wrong.” You couldn’t do that inChina. If you said “This stuff is wrong,” you failed your exam. But in Europe,the ability to challenge received wisdom is irrepressible.

在欧洲,发生了一些不同的事情。人们学习古典知识,托勒密,希波克拉底和阿基米德,他们开始说,“这些东西大部分都是错的。”在中国你不能这样做。如果你说“这东西错了”,你考试就过不了关。但在欧洲,挑战获得智慧的能力是无法抑制的。

In the 17th century, Europeans buildmicroscopes, telescopes and barometers that allow them to study nature in a waythe classics never could. And they become rather cocky. There’s a Frenchphilosopher in the late 16th century, Pierre de La Ramée, who writes a bookwith the title “Everything Aristotle Has Said Is Wrong.” That’s chutzpah. Acentury earlier, he would have been strung up.

在17世纪,欧洲人建造了显微镜、望远镜和气压计,使他们能够以经典的方式研究自然。他们变得相当自大。16世纪末,有一位法国哲学家皮埃尔•德拉姆埃写了一本书,书名为“亚里士多德所说的一切都是错的。”这就是丘茨帕。要是早一个世纪之前,他会被吊死的。



The reason I say this is because scienceadvances in part because people have the tools to work on problems. In thescientific advances of the 17th century, the microscope, the telescope and thebarometer play a very important role. Now, if you ask what science has to workwith today, it boggles the mind. We have microscopes that see the sub-molecularlevel. We have telescopes that see galaxies nobody dreamed existed. We havelabs full of computers. A computer can find nanoscopic needles in a hay stackthe size of Montana. The question is not, “What do computers do for ourresearch?” The question people ask today is, “How the hell did anyone doanything before we had computers?”

我之所以这么说是因为科学进步的部分原因是因为人们为了得到能够解决问题的工具。在17世纪的科学发展中,显微镜、望远镜和气压计发挥着非常重要的作用。现在,如果你问科学今天必须与什么合作,它会让人困惑。我们有可以看到亚分子水平的显微镜,我们有望远镜,可以看到无法想象的星系,我们的实验室里满是计算机,计算机可以在蒙大拿大小的干草堆中找到一根纳米级的针。问题不是,“计算机对我们的研究有什么作用?”今天人们问的问题是,“在我们拥有计算机之前,到底人们是怎么做到的?”

We are going to make so much more progress,simply because we have more powerful tools. As science advances, it will pushour capability of controlling nature further. Now, the problems also getharder. We are dealing with issues like climate change and desertification. Butour capability of solving them is going even faster, which is why I’m optimistic.

我们将取得更多的进展,仅仅是因为我们有更强大的工具。随着科学的进步,它将进一步推动我们控制自然的能力。当然现在,问题也越来越严重。我们正在处理气候变化和荒漠化等问题。但我们解决这些问题的能力会更快,这就是为什么我很乐观。