当代大学生如何可能 – How did today’s university students come about?

大学在校生是否算知识分子,对于这个问题的思考来自我在大学期间曾经做过的一个近代史的课件展示,当时我们六位同学一个小组,所选的主题便是关于知识分子命运的变迁。课件展示的脉络来自余英时先生的《中国知识分子的边缘化》和资中筠先生的《知识分子对道统的承载与失落》,一共分为古代士人、民国时期的知识分子、反右运动中的知识分子、文化大革命期间的知识分子、春夏之交时期的知识分子以及当代的知识分子,当时做课件展示时我希望是借助课件唤起大家的认同感,能够让下面在坐的一百多位大学一年级的学生有一种感同身受,认识我们的历史,了解知识分子在历史上的命运,更希望借助当代的部分,希望让我周围的同学找回一种应该有的社会担当,这样一种担当要求不高,首先便是了解我们历史的真相。但最终下来,反响平平,大家没有认同感,更对其中的历史不了解,也更不关心。

一年后和一位朋友说起这件事情,朋友说是我事先预设的受众错误了,大学在校生并不是知识分子。这样我才开始思考大学在校生是否应该是知识分子,以及大学是否应该培养知识分子。当然首先应该界定我所说的知识分子这个概念,知识分子应该指从事知识生产与传播的人,包括作家、学者、编辑等等,除此以外我还要特别提到,知识分子更应该是“批判型知识分子”,在郑也夫的《知识分子研究》一书里,将第四种知识分子称为“批判型知识分子”,而其基本特点有三点:1、不把眼光局限在某一专业学科上,对现实社会的重大问题、价值观念以及关于自然、人生的一些终极问题,深切关注;2、对现状持批判态度;3、这种关注的热忱和批判态度是建立在强烈的道德责任感上的。(郑也夫 《知识分子研究》中国青年出版社2004版)

大学与知识分子有怎样的关系,这应该要说到“知识分子社会”,在许纪霖看来,梁任公所说的“既有思想之中等社会”,指的就是从帝国和家族秩序中游离到民间的知识分子们所组成的社会。这些知识人,虽然成为了职业各不相同的游士,但他们并非互相隔绝的一盘散沙,而是有着一个紧密联系的社会文化网络。这样的社会文化网络,许纪霖称之为“知识分子社会”(intellectuals society),而“知识分子社会”有三个基础建构(infrastructure),那就是学校、传媒和结社,当然这三个基础建构的提出来自张灏先生,而许纪霖称之为三个基础性的公共网络。(许纪霖 《启蒙如何起死回生》北京大学出版社2011版)

1905年科举制度取消之前,传统的知识分子在朝为士大夫,在野则为士绅。在朝的知识分子依存于具有建制性的科举制度,在野的士绅或形成宋明以来的书院文化,回到民间,讲学、办学、结社;或者成为乡村社会里的地方精英,后来随着商业的发展以及清末地方士绅的崛起,成为买办或者地方的代表,但都无法改变科举制度对于传统知识分子的重要性。

“直到1905年科举制度废除以后,学校才最终替代科举,成为国家建制所承认的精英培养的正式机构。从此,学校文凭、特别是海外留学获得的洋文凭,替代了科举的功名,成为通向政治、文化和社会各种精英身份的规范途径。”(许纪霖 《启蒙如何起死回生》北京大学出版社2011版)科举制度被废除以后,大学替代了科举制度,知识分子不来自传统的科举制度,而来自学校,获取的是现代的自然知识,并非传统儒家的规范知识,某种程度上,在许纪霖界定的时间范围内,也就是1905至1940年代末,现代大学培养的是知识分子,而且不是普通的知识分子,是精英。

科举制度的废除,知识分子“改变了依附于王权政治的历史,开始有了真正属于自己的独立职业空间”,也就是独立属于现代知识分子,这是在建制上的独立,但这样的独立既有好的一面,也有其弊端。好的一面是知识分子拥有了独立的空间,不再依存于王权政治,成为了真正意义上的现代知识分子,但不好的一面则是,这样一种独立使得知识分子游离于社会之外,成为某一象牙塔里的专家,只顾学问,却不管社会担当,哪怕是具备了社会关怀和社会担当的知识分子,也因为这样一种游离于社会的状态,而逐渐边缘化,难以对国家产生传统士大夫在体制内时所产生的影响。

除了独立之外,知识分子另外一个特点是具有批判性,这样一种批评性来自自身文化传统里的清议,在许纪霖看来,这样一种清议传统构成了现代大学里的公共舆论“现代中国的大学毕竟渊源自古代的传统学校,不仅是纯粹的知识和现代人才的生产场所,同时也是公共舆论的空间。这一传统来自传统士大夫对三代学校的想象,并且试图将学校理解为一个代表公约、制约王权的士大夫公共机构”,(许纪霖 《启蒙如何起死回生》北京大学出版社2011版)在这里,这样一种批判性特别针对的是王权,是能够独立于官僚和皇权的公共舆论机构。

理想化的状态当然是独立与批判的不可分离,没有独立是很难拥有批判与清议的,纵观历史,真正能够形成对抗朝廷的民间舆论压力是明代,而整个历史中,传统士人虽然希望能够回到三代,建立一种独立于皇权和官僚之外并且能够起到制约作用的公共舆论空间,但大部分时候,却很难真正独立出去,哪怕宋明书院盛行,也不具备建制性。而只有独立,也有可能不具备批判,学术的象牙塔,不问世事。

上面所说的大学与知识分子的关系的时间限定是在近代,1905年以后的现代大学不仅培养的是知识分子,更是一种精英,这样一些精英依靠大学、传媒和结社形成一种“知识分子社会”,而在三者中,大学应该说是“知识分子社会”的中心,是这样一种社会最核心的建构。这样一些精英,从传统王权中独立出去,拥有了独立的职业空间,同时因为清议的传统,而具备了批判的精神。

现在让我们回到现代,回到现代大学里,在我看来,自从扩招以后,现代大学的主要问题有两点,那就是职业化和官僚化,官僚化可以追溯的时间应该是扩招以前,其原因暂且不表,但职业化应该是扩招以后才变得更加赤裸裸的。

大学扩招的问题导致大学生贬值,越来越多的大学毕业生争抢饭碗,用人单位对招聘对象的文凭要求越来越高,同时大学扩招导致其它教育不被人看好,诸如职业教育,技能教育。大学应该是传授知识,培养大学生综合能力的地方,不应该是职业教育的训练场,更不应该是向社会输出劳动力的职业学校。而我们的大学的分类除了所谓的“211”,“985”外,缺少多样性,没有私立大学,没有教会大学,没有社区大学,更没有美国那样一种特别的文理学院。若是选择能够多样化,这样想从事与自己职业相关的实践性强的学习,可以选择职业教育,想从事技术性教育的可以选择技术学校,想要从事学术研究的可以选择读大学,这样分工合理,不会出现想急切进入社会从事某种职业的人却必须进入大学学习,学习与实践无关的知识,而想要从事学术,想要为学而学的人能够专心在大学学习。

如此这样看来,扩招以后的大学里,并不像近代时期的大学那般纯粹,读大学的可以说都是文化上的精英,自然而然可以将他们归为知识分子,(当然没有读过大学,没有拿过文凭的而靠自学成才的也算在知识分子中)。但说今天大学培养出来的,受过高等教育的人算是知识分子吗,我认为也许并不全是,很多人会将自己定义为其它身份,诸如高富帅,白富美,富二代,官二代,屌丝,却不会认为自己是知识分子,也就是是否接受过高等教育已经不是判断一个人是否是知识分子的标准了,至少在大部分人看来,他们已经没有这样一种自我身份的认同了。

回到自我身份的认同上,王凡森在《知识分子自我形象的转变》一文里就分析了近代知识分子自我身份认同的问题,这样一种认同感到俄国大革命以后就从“我是一名知识分子”转变到了“我为什么还不是一个工人”上去了。但今天的大学,不仅因为扩招的问题导致大学生也许不具备一个知识分子应该具备的知识储备和综合能力,还不提所谓的独立和批判精神,更导致大学生自我身份认同上不认为自己是一个知识分子。

其次说到官僚化的问题,官僚化导致大学里一部分人连独立也不具备,本来科举制度的取消使得知识分子从传统的王权体制里独立出来,如今却依附于另外一张皮上,甚至这样一种依附关系更加亲密。传统的知识分子虽然依附于王权政治,但因为儒家文化,知识分子掌握了对道德价值的解释权,知识分子和天子都代表了天意。

因此可以说,我们的大学培养的底线应该是一个合格的现代公民,其次才是一个具备独立和批判精神的知识分子。而政治上边缘化,社会上游离性的知识分子,如何获取文化上的影响力?构成“知识分子社会”的三个基础性建构中的大学也许并不是唯一的选择,“学在民间”,现代信息传播的发达,网络的便捷,知识分子不仅仅来自大学,更来自民间,通过自学成才,同时具备社会批判精神和社会担当,同样也是“知识分子社会”中的一员。

回到第一个问题,大学在校生是否是知识分子,我想,如果具备了批判与独立的精神,算是准知识分子,是未来的知识分子,甚至能够将自我身份认同于知识分子。

Besides independence, the other feature of intellectuals is being critical, which comes from their own traditional culture. From Xu Jilin’s point of view, this tradition of criticism has formed a public opinion in modern colleges: modern Chinese colleges originate from traditional schools, which are not only a place to cultivate knowledge and talent but also a place to form public opinion. This tradition comes from the way traditional scholar-bureaucrats viewed schools in the Xia, Shang, and Zhou Dynasties. And they tried to interpret schools as a public scholar institution to [represent pact] and to limit royal power. (XuJilin How the enlightenment resurges, Peking University Press,2011) Here, this criticism is especially against royal power and it’s a public opinion institution independent from bureaucracy and imperial power.

 

The ideal state is of course one of inseparability between independence and criticism. There’s no criticism without independence. Throughout history, only in the Ming Dynasty was public opinion actually built to rival the government. Though traditional intellectuals intended to go back to the Xia, Shang and ,Zhou Dynasties to form a real independent public opinion space that could really restrain the royal power, most of the time it couldn’t be truly independent, nor was it constructive. Even if there’s independence, there can be no criticism, but only focus on one specific area without concern about reality.

 

The connection between colleges and intellectuals we discussed above emerged in modern history, Colleges nowadays, since after 1905, have been cultivating elites more than intellectuals. Those elites form an “intellectuals society” supported by three infrastructures: colleges, the media and associations. Within the three infrastructures, college should be the core centres of “intellectuals society”. Those elites are separated from traditional royal power and own their own professional spaces, meanwhile possess the spirit of criticism due to the tradition of criticism.

 

Now let’s bring our eyes back to today’s colleges. In my opinion, since the expanding enrollment of colleges, there are two main problems faced by modern colleges: professionalization and bureaucratization. Bureaucratization can be traced back to before the expansion while professionalization has become more evident after the expansion.

 

The problem of expanding enrollment of colleges resulted in the devaluation of college students. More and more graduates are competing for jobs while the academic requirements in the job market are becoming higher and higher. In the meantime, expansion also leads to the ignorance of other forms of education, like vocational education and technical education. Colleges should be a place for teaching knowledge and cultivating students’ comprehensive abilities but not a training factory for vocational education nor a vocational school for providing labor to society. Yet our college classification lacks variety, except the so called 211 and 985 projects colleges. We don’t have private colleges, religious colleges and community colleges, not to mention liberal arts colleges like the US. If there’s more diversity, students can just choose the study that relate to their profession and there will be no circumstance like students who want to be a cook but end up in college studying law. Only those who want to do academic research will study at college.

 

Therefore, colleges after expansion are not as pure as the colleges before, when students in colleges could be called cultural elites and automatically be counted as intellectuals. (Of course talented people who haven’t been to college but learn by themselves are also intellectuals). But are contemporary students intellectuals? I don’t think so. Most of them may define themselves as rich, poor, beautiful, etc, but never as intellectuals. Having been to college is not a criterium for becoming an intellectual any more. At least to most people, they have lost this identity.

 

Now back to identity, Wang Fansen talked about the identity of modern intellectuals in his book Intellectuals’ changes in self-image. After the Russian Revolution, this sense of identity was transformed from “I’m an intellectual” to “why am I not a worker”. But in contemporary colleges, because of their expansion, students may not have the knowledge or abilities of intellectuals, not even their spirit of independence and criticism. Moreover, it makes the students lose the self-identity as intellectuals.

 

Second, bureaucratization leads to the lack of independence of some students in college. The abolition of the old examination system resulted in the independence of intellectuals from traditional royal institution. But now they’re more dependent on bureaucracy than ever. Though traditional intellectuals rely on royal politics, they own the right to interpret moral values and they represent the will of heaven just as the monarch do, according to Confucian culture.

 

So the baseline for colleges’ culture should be first to train qualified citizens, then to breed intellectuals with a spirit of independence and criticism. But how do the intellectuals marginalized and separated by politics and society gain cultural influence? Colleges, which are one of the three basic infrastructures forming the “intellectuals society”, may not be the only option. With the advancement of modern information and the advantage of the internet, intellectuals can also come from among people who learn by themselves and possess the spirit of social criticism and responsibility.

 

Are college students intellectuals? From my point of view, that depends on whether they have the spirit of criticism and independence.

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