音视频 | 哥伦比亚大学校长2023年毕业典礼上的演讲

时间:2023-05-27 10:44:43  热度:0°C
Commencement Address by President Lee C/ Bollinger at Columbia University

May 17/ 2023

演讲 | 李开复哥伦比亚大学毕业典礼演讲:爱,让人类有别于人工智能

视频 | 世界名校 经典的五场毕业演讲

It is my very/ very great honor/ indeed privilege and joy/ to welcome you all here on this very special morning/ in this glorious academic setting/ to this magnificent occasion/ I am especially sentimental today as this will be my last Commencement speech after serving more than two decades as president of Columbia University/ I – I like to think that we are graduating together/ I am sure… I am sure that…that you and I – that was the response I hoped to elicit – I’m sure that you and I both will hold this moment in our hearts for the rest of our lives/

On a personal note/ I’m pleased to say I have a job/ I now return… I now return to the life of a law professor/ a career I began at more or less your age in 1973/ two years after graduating from our Law School/ I have loved being president of this great academic institution/ By any measure I can think of/ it has been a worthy way to spend my life and/ most importantly/ a transformative education in itself/

This transition for me is somewhat complicated (a word you will hear me say a lot this morning)/ I feel some elements of sadness as I leave behind colleagues/ every one a dear friend/ and adjust to a world in which I am increasingly unneeded/ But certainly/ I am delighted to have more space and time in life for other things – perhaps the way your families felt when you went off to school/ However/ endings are a part of life/ as this occasion so poignantly symbolizes/ and I couldn’t be happier that Minouche Shafik will become our next President/

Minouche –

So let me say/ personally and on behalf of the faculty/ and the staff/ and administration/ how thankful we are to each and every one of you for enriching our lives/ and this appreciation extends to all who have supported you throughout your academic journey/ Please take a moment to thank them as well/

I thought a lot about what to say to you on this occasion/ One naturally feels an expectation to offer thoughts as profound as this moment is in your lives/ Given all that is happening in the world/ you might well expect me to talk about big issues and/ in particular/ big threats to democracy/ But it strikes me that you are already well-versed in civilization-scale problems that your generation has been tasked with solving/

What I can do/ and I hope to do/ is to sum up a little part of what I have learned over time contributes to a good life/ I am interested in the seemingly simple matter of how to be a person in the world and what qualities to nurture and develop/ I don’t have a precise name for what I’m going to talk about/ but/ in general/ it’s about developing a certain disposition of openness – something frequently commented on/ but little appreciated in how hard it is to achieve and sustain/

Being open-minded/ whether as a society or as an individual/ has many models/ The place we typically start in thinking about the subject is the First Amendment and the sacred principle of freedom of speech/ That is something… that is something I happen to know a little about/

But I am not turning to the First Amendment for the reason you might think – as some kind of article of faith that we all should strive to live by – in fact/ quite the opposite in many respects/ I understand why/ in this current age/ some of you may feel the First Amendment protects too many bad things/ giving oxygen to the toxic forces that divide us/ To that I would say/ that’s a legitimate debate and always has been and always will/ Rather/ I want to use the First Amendment as a point of reference as we set about the far more complex task of creating our own/ our own personal “free speech/” as it were/

This is where we decide for ourselves how to think/ learn/ tolerate or not/ engage with others or not/ including those with whom we are closest/ I propose that we see life as having different ways/ or layers/ of trying to achieve the same thing and compare them and look at how they intersect/ I see the First Amendment as a point of departure/ not a destination/ as it were/ We are letting ourselves off the hook when we expect society to conform to standards that we know from our own lives are too unyielding to accommodate life’s infinite subtleties/

But we begin with free speech and the First Amendment/

In the United States/ we proudly have decided – primarily through Supreme Court cases over the last century – that the government/ or the “State/” should not “censor” speech except in extreme situations (for example/ when it poses a serious and imminent risk of violence)/ This means that we must withhold imposing sanctions on speech that is racist/ or antisemitic/ or materially and dangerously false/ We exercise this self-restraint only towards behavior we classify as “speech” (a puzzle in itself) and we embed it as a fundamental principle in the Constitution/ To the questions why and to what ends we say the following/

First/ we recognize that human nature is not naturally open to other beliefs and ideas/ We are made for intolerance/ not tolerance/

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes/ Jr/ expressed this premise explicitly and succinctly in 1920/ as he initiated the cascade of jurisprudence we live by today/ He acknowledged/ “Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical/ If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and you want a result with all your heart/ you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away the opposition/ To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent/ … or that you do not care whole-heartedly for the result/ or that you doubt either your power or your premises/”

So/ intolerance/ or “persecution/” towards other beliefs and opinions is “perfectly logical/” But that’s not the end of the story/ Holmes says famously/ We need to reject these natural impulses and aim for something higher/ namely “truth/” For when we realize/ he says/ “that time has upset many fighting faiths/” then we “come to believe… that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas – that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market/ and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out/”

This/ as it were/ has become the American creed/

And it is a wonderful and really glorious thing/ But/ given the problematic premise and the ideal/ it is no wonder that each new generation must work to understand and live by this faith/ It’s also odd/ more intricate than this/ because we do not live by this faith throughout all society and/ certainly not/ in our own lives/ even when we have the same goals in mind/ Take where we are right this minute/

In the academic world/ a very different framework applies in the search for truth/ Here the quest is bounded by strict norms of objectivity/ reason/ civility/ peer review/ full attribution and constant skepticism applied to one’s own ideas/ In this realm/ what I like to refer to as the Scholarly Temperament prevails/ and for those who abridge the norms/ the penalties (the “censorship/” as it were/ by another name) are severe – non-promotion/ and even exclusion/ As with the First Amendment commitment to free speech/ the Scholarly Temperament does not come easily/ It is only achieved by “education” and mental discipline/

Here/ then/ are two worlds I – and you – know well/ They are very different in character/ very different in the precepts about the permissible intellectual traits/ yet both are dedicated to the discovery of truth/ One is like a wilderness/ and the other a manicured garden/ I won’t here go into how to square the two worlds in a society such as ours/ nor whether they even need to be squared/ My main point takes a different path/

But what I want to get to is our own lives/ the ones that each of us constructs day after day/ None of us would ever choose personally to live according to the dictates of the First Amendment or the Scholarly Temperament/ They may well be appropriate for their respective spheres/ and they may each in their own way be models for us to turn to for guidance as we create our own/ But they will not work for ordinary life/ even for the same goal/

Here is where my recommendations come in/ Let me say first/ however/ that I am not trying to solve the larger questions each of us confronts about who we will be/ or what beliefs we will hold/ or with what degrees of intensity and conviction/ We need courage to fight for justice/ That is another topic/ My focus today is how we build within ourselves a disposition to be open-minded that is authentic/ lasting/ and ultimately a force for positive change/

So/ here are some ideas I have turned to myself for help/ I have found them useful in building my own understanding and knowledge/ in feeling freer and happier/ and for nurturing relationships with others/ There are ten/ (I say under my breath/)

The first/ and in many ways the most important/ recommendation is to be constantly alert to our natural impulses that lead us astray/ Here you need to start where the First Amendment starts/ And Holmes was right – we will have our beliefs and the more strongly we hold them the more we will want to protect them from contradiction and rejection/ But our impulse is even more dangerous than Holmes suggested/ Not only do we want to “persecute” opposition/ we also want to join with others in feeling fortified and righteous in doing so/ We want to agree to agree/ In other words/ we need to see that our natural inclination is to be closed-minded/ not open-minded/ We are not born believing in free speech or openness/ We have to learn to be this other way/

From there I think it’s helpful to develop a conscious awareness of how little we – even experts – actually know about ourselves and our world/ Human knowledge is vast/ and stupendous/ as this University attests/ as a repository of human knowledge/ But our ignorance is far greater/ I love and have enormous respect for expertise/ but you have to be careful not to let it be intimidating/ And the best way to do that is to peer into our shared ignorance/ for that is where we find our sense of shared humanity and where old and new things await our discovery/

Next/ for those things we do and can know/ we must always work on seeing their complexity as deeply as we can/ The mind naturally simplifies things/ and looks for and assumes there are answers/ Sometimes there are/ but more often there are choices to be made/ I always tell my students to try to make the problems we study as complex as possible/ And I suggest you follow the tried-and-true method of academics to ready their minds/ by beginning every response by saying/ “Well/ it’s complicated/ …” and then go on from there/

Next/ once you see the centrifugal forces against openness/ and you see the path ahead/ you realize this is something that happens only by continuous practice/ by habit/ You have to make it part of who you are/ and do it over and over again/ Just saying to people/ “Be open” is like saying to someone/ “Go play the piano/” You have to work at it/ build your capacities/ gain agility and strength – that’s why pianists do scales/ and these are scales for open-mindedness/

Now/ when you are in conversations with people/ which is a great way to learn/ you should always ask more questions than give answers/ Everyone has something to teach us/ something of unique interest/ and your task is always to find that/ Keep the proportions of questions to answers at least at 80%/ Given human nature/ I predict you will have no problems succeeding in this (unless you run into someone who was at this Commencement/ who actually listened to what I’m saying/ and who was persuaded – a vanishingly small pool of people/ I realize)/

Then try this/ When you encounter a problem/ an issue on which reasonable people disagree/ imagine all the arguments you would make/ until the point where no alternative seems possible/ Then start all over again/ imagine you are the other person and make their arguments to the same end in your mind/ And then try to hold both arguments in your head at once/ This is very/ very hard to do/

The seventh idea is/ always remember that the problems of life may be different in consequence/ but are more or less equal in complexity/ As your parents will no doubt agree/ deciding which school to send your child to can be just as vexing as any matter of American foreign policy/ Do not be dismissive of any opportunity to bear witness to the difficulties of making the “right” call under any circumstances/

Remember/ too/ that being open is not only a way to truth and understanding but also helps build relationships/ I learned a long time ago that in marriage/ family life/ friendship there is no such thing as a contract/ “But we agreed” does not work when feelings change/ Empathy is a branch of openness/ and empathy is crucial to any relationship at any level/

Keep notes/ Ask yourself/ what have I learned? Why didn’t I understand that? And how well did I follow my own principles? Everyone from researchers to wine experts knows that by writing down your impressions/ you understand your experience better and have a reference point for the future/

And/ finally/ know that aging makes it all much easier/ The older you grow/ the less certain you are and the more you appreciate what humans have done with curiosity/ Age will help you out/ making you more patient with yourself and others/ and more willing to be open to the baffling but exhilarating mysteries of the world/

So/ there are the ten ideas/ know your bad impulses/ feel our vast ignorance/ work at seeing the complexity of things/ not the answers/ make it a habit/ ask more questions than provide answers/ imagine you are the person you disagree with/ see complexity in ordinary life/ be open and empathetic in relationships/ keep notes/ and let age help you out/

I’ve been very fortunate to have my professional life correspond to my personal life/ freedom of speech/ the great American university/ and being a law professor and president of Columbia have all been interwoven/ This has given me a mine of precious materials from which to draw/ from the national to the quotidian/ I love each/ and I love them all together/ I still do not understand all I need to/ but as they intersect/ I understand each better/ I hope and expect you will find the same is true in your lives/

Let me return to my opening remark that this is my last Commencement address/ The “commencement speech” is one of the hardest in life to give/ No remarks can live up to the meaning that this has for all of you/ It is a bit of a trap because when you try to close the gap/ the risk is that you will end up with the cliché and the banal/ Enough said on that/ (I only ask that you give me credit for being self-aware/) But/ for sure/ the commencement speech focuses the mind/ And/ if you’re ever asked to give one/ I strongly urge you to say – yes/ and then get out of town as quickly as possible/

My deepest congratulations to all of you/ and especially my fellow Graduates of 2023/

Thank you/

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