少女援交与中国人的幸福 – Teenage girls’ ‘compensated dating’ and happiness in China

普世道德的幸福生活价值往往基于宗教信仰、传统文化或人本价值的道德观,不仅是幸福的来源,也提供获得幸福的途径。好的公共生活所必需具备的基本价值,自由、平等、尊严、真实、诚信,是由公民社会而不是靠国家权力维持和再生的。”

上海警方破获未成年女性“援交”,即参与卖淫和介绍卖淫的特大案件,由于人数众多,其中多数又是在校中学生,而且2人为未满14周岁的幼女,引起了社会的广泛关注。这些涉案的女青少年并不是天生的罪犯,也不能单纯用“寡廉鲜耻”来理解她们的行为。她们是在以自已特定的方式追求着什么——或许是她们心目中的“幸福”,或许是比她们所付出的更有价值的某种“奋斗目标”。

青少年在追求什么

青少年的幸福观出现危机,奋斗目标发生扭曲,并不是今天才发生在这些援交少女身上。两年前,《中国青年报》社会调查中心开展了一项主题为《你正在为什么而奋斗》的在线调查,9844名参与者中,84.3%的人确认自己“正在奋斗”。而人们眼中的奋斗目标排名比较靠前的依次为“房子和车子(53.5%)”、“更理想的生活(44.0%)”、“成为有钱人(43.70%)”、“找个好工作(23.9%)”。这些非常现实的目标显示,金钱和物质在当今社会中已经成为最重要的成功标志,有了钱就能达到这些目标。任何一种可能的方法,包括援交,只要能快速挣钱,都是“致富”的正当途径,都是追求个人心目中“幸福”和“好生活”的正当手段。

在伦理哲学中,好生活的“好”往往是用“幸福”这个概念来表述的,亚里士多德《尼各马科伦理学》的第一卷就把“幸福”作为伦理的核心问题提了出来,紧接着又在第二、第三卷里分别提出了“德行”(“善”)和“行为”的问题,因为按照亚里士多德的理解,“幸福”或者好生活不是一种静止的状态,而是一种进行中的生活方式,一种以德行为目的的行为:“幸福是一种完全合乎德行的现实活动”。他说,许多人“以生活享受为满足”,更有许多人过着“很明显是一种奴性的生活,然而,却显得满有道理”。他认为,享乐生活是最低层次的幸福,而另外两种更高的幸福则是“政治生活”和“思辨的静观的生活”。

对于今天大多数追求幸福的中国青少年来说,亚里士多德所说的那两种更高的幸福也许是他们想都没有想过的。然而,这并不妨碍我们应该好好思考“享乐生活是最低层次的幸福”这句话,因为援交少女让我们看到,最低层次竟然可以低到什么程度。在这个极低的层次上,“幸福”完全受人的自然欲望支配,变得完全不受羞耻和其他道德观念的约束。

被生活世界扭曲的“幸福”

在完全被金钱和自然欲望支配的世界里,就像在完全被强权政治支配的世界里一样,人们往往对幸福不能形成正确的观念,这并不是说他们不能感觉到某种幸福,而是说他们的幸福感会被极度扭曲。索尔仁尼琴在小说《伊凡·杰尼索维奇的一天》中说了一个“幸福”感觉的故事。斯大林时期劳改营的犯人伊凡·杰尼索维奇·舒霍夫从前一天晚上起就觉得不舒服,有些发烧,他早晨起来,觉得头昏眼花、全身无力,不知道这一天要怎么熬过去。可是一天下来,居然过得非常顺当:没有关禁闭,他们小队没有被赶去干最苦的活,午饭的时候赚了一碗粥,砌墙砌得恨愉快,搜身的时候偷带的锯条也没有被搜出来,晚上又从别的犯人那里弄到了东西,还搞到了烟叶。没有生病,一天就这样挺过来了,没碰上不顺心的事,“这一天简直可以说是幸福”。这个故事说的是个人的“幸福”感觉(它也让人联想到《贫嘴张大民的幸福生活》的故事),它基于达到个人“需要”的某种满足程度。满足了就“快乐”,反之则“痛苦”。

但是,社会价值和伦理的“幸福”不是一种感觉,而是一种意义,“幸福”与人们平时所说的“快乐”是有区别的。著名犹太心理学家弗兰克(Victor Frankl)在总结人生时说:对人来说,最要紧的“不是趋乐避苦,而是在乐或苦中看到价值意义”。“羞耻”便是一种被人类普遍认为很重要的价值意义观念,而这又恰恰是与性直接联系在一起的。人生活在一个有约束的世界里,不能百无禁忌,禁忌是被外力禁止,被内心默默接受的事情。有的禁忌给人带来“恐惧”(如亵渎神灵、冒犯操掌生杀大权的暴君),有的禁忌给人带来的是“羞耻”。性就是给人带来羞耻的那种禁忌。“羞耻”和“罪感”不同, 罪感与内心(“内疚”)相关,而羞耻则与视觉(“看见”)相关。羞耻是害怕被人看见不该看见(见不得人)的东西或事情。

人不能百无禁忌

在一个失去了禁忌约束的社会里,习俗的道德与个人的羞耻都失去了依据,习俗道德之所以有权威,是因为大多数的成年人自觉地遵守它,而这对青少年有好的示范作用。然而,当许多成年人,尤其是那些在社会中被视为“成功”的人士们——官员、企业家、专家、学者、知名人士——的行为严重违背习俗道德规范的时候,青少年的“堕落”也就是不可避免的了。人类学家玛格丽特·米德曾经在《文化与承诺:代沟的研究中》指出:当代世界正在发生变化,在这个世界中,成人已经不能扮演年轻人的导师的角色,因此导致了一种危机,她称之为“信仰危机”,她写道,“我相信这种信仰危机可以归因于……现在长辈对年轻人的经历,没能比年轻人自己有更多的了解。”

太多的成年人沉溺于物质享受和声色之乐,媒体却往往将之报道为改革开放的巨大成就和中国人“幸福指数”的提高。长期的长官命令和洗脑式革命道德教育使得这些成年人成为极其缺乏独立价值选择能力的一代人。而今,面对女青少年援交,这些成年人最有可能持这样两种态度,一种是对她们作居高临下的谴责,另一种是将援交视为一种与其他国家、地区可以类比的“现代青少年现象”。这两种态度都是不可取的。不同文化有不同的禁忌,在一种文化中被认为不可耻的,在另一种文化中则不是如此,我们完全有理由相信,女青少年援交行为通过媒体公开揭露,会成为一个中国的“社会问题”,而不仅仅是一个“青少年新趋势”。

幸福”是一种意义

求生避死,趋乐避苦是人和其他一切动物共有的本能和欲望,而只有人才能在“生”和“乐”之外寻找到一种可以称作为“好”和“幸福”的意义。亚里士多德说:“那最为平庸的人,把幸福和快乐等同,因此,他们以生活享受为满足。”这种享受可能超出肉体的需要,但仍然只是快乐而不是幸福,例如有人花400万买一只藏獒,用30辆奔驰轿车迎接,他享受了“体面”的快乐,但有多少人会同意这是一种“幸福”呢?同样,那些从事援交的女青少年,还有那些当“二奶”,或者以其他方式出卖肉体来满足她们各自快乐需求的成年女子们,她们的幸福又在哪里呢?

人是在对某种意义,尤其是价值意义的追求中实现自己幸福生活的,脱离了价值,便无“幸福”或“好”可言。由于价值的存在,人不仅能在快乐中,而且也能在痛苦中找到意义,这是人与动物的根本不同。

伦理学家凡维克(Robert Van Wyk)说,“一个好生活必须至少包含两个部分,幸福以及不要在寻找幸福中上当受骗。” 越容易受骗上当,就越不容易找到真正的好生活。青少年是一个非常容易上当受骗的时期,尤其是上她们周围的成年人的当和骗。

援交少女需要的也许不是法律的惩罚,而是价值观教育。这种教育不应该仅仅是个人的,而应该放置在全社会的价值讨论之中进行。个人心目中有了好生活的想法,不等于公共社会中就有了可以共同认可的好生活理念。在讨论好生活时,需要区别对个人来说的“好生活”和对群体来说的“好的公共生活”,前一个在很大程度上是由个人自己决定的,而后一个则需要由公民群体一起来确立和维持,因此也才需要成为一个公共讨论的议题。

好的公共生活,它的价值意义有两种不同性质的来源:政治的和普世道德的。政治性的幸福生活价值往往以国家、民族、革命事业为中心,它要求牺牲个体,因而也忽视了个体。基于政治信仰之上的幸福感往往是不稳定的,时过境迁后甚至会被发现是荒谬的

普世道德的幸福生活价值往往基于宗教信仰、传统文化或人本价值的道德观,不仅是幸福的来源,也提供获得幸福的途径。好的公共生活所必需具备的基本价值,自由、平等、尊严、真实、诚信,是由公民社会而不是靠国家权力维持和再生的。历史上许多对“幸福”的政治狂燥追求,都是由国家权力主导,结果是灾难性的。今天,要造就一种能够持续有效的幸福观和好生活观,恐怕还要从培养公民社会,建立好的公共生活价值观开始。

 

(徐贲,加州圣玛利学院英文系教授。原文链接:http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4cacf1f30102du32.html

本文选入一五一十周刊第79期,周刊下载:http://my1510.cn/article.php?id=85878

“The universal value of a moral life is often rooted in religious belief, traditional culture, or a personal moral outlook. Universal moral values are not merely the source of happiness, but also provide an avenue for the attainment of happiness. All that a good public life needs to have are the basic values: freedom, equality, respect, truth, and trust. These values come from society and don’t depend on the authority of the state to be preserved and reprocessed.”

Shanghai police have uncovered a large case of underage girls acting as “liaisons” for prostitution and even participating in prostitution. Because there are so many girls involved, the majority of which being middle school students with two girls not even fourteen years old, the case has drawn a lot of attention throughout society. The girls involved aren’t inherent criminals, but we can’t simply label their behavior as “shameless.” They are using their own specific methods to pursue what in their minds is “happiness.” Perhaps the value of whatever it is they are striving for is greater than the price that they pay.

What are the girls striving for?

A crisis has emerged in the youth’s concept of happiness. The object of their struggle is distorted, and it isn’t only happening with these girls who have today been discovered to be acting as escorts for prostitution. Two years ago an online survey posted by the China Youth Daily’s Society Survey Center entitled “Why Are You Struggling?” revealed that 84% of the 9,844 participants considered themselves to be “currently struggling.” The list of the things they are pursuing is prioritized in the following order: house and car (53%), a more ideal life (44%), getting rich (43.7%, and getting a good job (23.9%). These very reasonable goals reveal that in today’s society, money and material wealth constitute the most important indicators of success. Only if one has money can these goals be attained. Any possible means, including acting as a liaison for prostitution, as long as the money can be made quickly, are proper paths to fortune. All are legitimate methods for the pursuit of a person’s own idea of “happiness” and “a good life.”

In moral philosophy, the “good” of a good life is usually explained with the use of a concept of happiness. In the first book of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, “happiness” is put forward as the central problem of ethics, and in the second and third books it’s put forward as the problem central to “morality and conduct” (“charity”) and “behavior” respectively. According to Aristotle, “happiness” and “a good life” aren’t static conditions, but are ways of life that are in progress. They are kinds of behavior that set morality as a goal: “Happiness is a kind of real activity that is in complete accordance with moral conduct.” He says, “many people treat the enjoyment of life as contentment,” but a larger number of people live “an obviously servile life, but nevertheless one seemingly filled with reason.” He thinks a life of pleasure is the lowest level of happiness with the next highest levels of happiness being a “political life” and a “life of quietly contemplating different modes of thought.”

As for the majority of today’s happiness-seeking Chinese youth, those two higher levels that Aristotle talks about have probably never crossed their minds. However, this really shouldn’t keep us from thinking deeply about this “life of pleasure is the lowest level of happiness” business, because these girls acting as escorts and liaisons for prostitution allow us to see to what extent the lowest level can actually go. At this extremely low level, “happiness” is entirely subject to natural human desires and is completely unrestrained by shame or any other moral principle.

“Happiness” Distorted by the World

A world completely dominated by money and natural desires is just like a world dominated by power politics. People often can’t form a proper concept of happiness. This isn’t to say that they don’t feel a certain kind of happiness, but the feeling can be extremely distorted. Solzhenitsen’s novel “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” tells a story about a feeling of happiness. Prisoner in a Stalin-era gulag, Ivan Denisovich Shukov starts feeling sick one night. He wakes up dizzy with a bit of a fever early in the morning. He’s completely drained and has no idea how he’s going to make it through the day. Unexpectedly, the day goes by without any problems: he doesn’t get put in solitary confinement; his group isn’t made to do the most difficult labor assignments; for lunch he gets a bowl of porridge; he happily lays bricks to build a wall; during his body search, the saw blade he had been carrying wasn’t found; and at night he gets some tobacco from another inmate. He isn’t sick, the day just goes by without anything bad happening, “It can simply be said that today is happiness.” This story is about a personal feeling of “happiness”. (It also brings to mind the story, “贫嘴张大民的幸福生活” which is about the degree of satisfaction in the attainment of personal “needs”. Contentment is “happiness”, otherwise, it’s “suffering”.

However, the “happiness”of social values and ethics is not a kind of feeling, but a kind of meaning. There is a difference between “happiness” and what people commonly refer to as “joy”. In summarizing human life, the famous Jewish psychologist Victor Frankl says the most important thing isn’t “tending towards joy while avoiding pain, but finding a sense of value in either joy or pain.” “Shame” is universally considered to be an important concept of value and meaning. For a person living in a world that has restraints, everything is permitted. Taboos are imposed from the outside, but are secretly accepted on the inside. Some taboos are frightening to people (like blaspheming a god or offending a tyrant and some taboos cause a person “shame”. Sex is the kind of taboo that can bring a person shame, but “shame” and “guilt” aren’t the same thing. “Guilt” is related to the inside (*1), but shame, on the other hand is related to vision (it can be seen). Shame is the fear that others will see what they shouldn’t.

People Can’t Live Like Anything Goes

In a society that has lost all restraints on the profane, personal shame loses its foundation in conventional morality. The reason conventional morality has prestige is because most adults abide by it, and this is purposive in setting an example for young people. However, when the actions of many adults (especially those seen by society as “successful”… government officials, entrepreneurs, technical experts, scholars, and celebrities) seriously violate the guidelines of conventional morality, the degeneration of young people is unavoidable. Anthropologist Margaret Mead’s “Culture and Commitment” points out: “the modern world is changing. In this world, adults can’t play the role of teacher for young people anymore,” and so it has led to a crisis which she calls “a crisis of belief.” She writes, “I believe this crisis of belief can be attributed to how young people experience the current older generations. There isn’t anything that young people understand more.”

Too many adults are steeped in materialism and debauched joy, but the media often reports on the phenomena as huge successes for the programs of Reform and Opening as well as improvements to the Chinese people’s “Happiness Index.” The long-term directives and revolutionary moral teaching of senior officials has rendered the current generation of adults completely incapable of making value judgements. Now, faced with young girls acting as escorts and liaisons for prostitution, adults can assume one of two attitudes: 1) condemn them, 2) regard them as another country or place might as a “phenomenon of the modern youth generation.” Neither of these two attitudes are desirable. Different cultures have different taboos. What is considered disgraceful in one culture might not be in another, but we have reason to believe beyond a doubt that young girls involved in prostitution as exposed by the media constitutes a “societal problem” for China, and isn’t merely a “youth trend.”

“Happiness” is a form of meaning

Survival and avoiding death, and seeking joy while avoiding pain are predispositions that humans as well as all animals share, but only people can find a meaning of “good” or “happiness” beyond “life” and “enjoyment”. Aristotle said, “the commonest person equates happiness with joy, thus they treat the enjoyment of life as contentment.” This kind of enjoyment surpasses the needs of the body, but still is only joy, not happiness. For example, a person can spend 4 million on a Tibetan Mastiff, use thirty Mercedes Benzes to go and pick it up, and he enjoys the joy of “face”, but how many people can agree that this is happiness? At the same time, with those young girls involved in prostitution, and those “second sets of tits”(*2), or any other form of selling one’s body a woman takes to satisfy her needs for joy, where is the happiness?

People can realize the happiness of life when they pursue value and meaning. If there isn’t any value, then there is no “happiness” or “good” to speak of. Because there’s value, people can find meaning not only in joy, but also in suffering. This is the essential difference between people and animals.

Ethicist Robert Van Dyk says, “A good life needs to include at least two components: happiness, and not being misled while searching for happiness.” The easier it is to be misled, the harder it is to find a genuinely good life. Young people are susceptible to being misled, especially when the adults around them are misleading them.

Perhaps what these escort service girls need are legal punishments and education about value systems. This kind of education shouldn’t merely be implemented for individuals, but should also be part of the larger social discourse. An individual’s idea of a good life does not equal the idea of a good life that is commonly approved of by society. When discussing the good life, a difference needs to be made between what an individual deems to be “a good life” and what the group considers to be “a good public life.” The former is decided to a great extent by the individual, but the latter must be firmly established and preserved by the people. Thus “the good life” needs to be made a topic of public discourse.

The value and the meaning of a good public life come from two qualitatively different sources: politics is one source and universal morality is the other. The value of a happy life that is of a political nature often places the state, ethnic group, or revolutionary cause at the center while sacrificing and neglecting the individual. Happiness that is grounded in political beliefs is often unstable, and as time goes on, the circumstances change until later it is even considered absurd.

The universal value of a moral life is often rooted in religious belief, traditional culture, or a personal moral outlook. Universal moral values are not merely the source of happiness, but also provide an avenue for the attainment of happiness. All that good public life needs to have are the basic values: freedom, equality, respect, truth, and trust. These values come from society and don’t depend on the authority of the state to be preserved and reprocessed. Throughout history, many of the manic political pursuits of happiness have always been under the authority of the state, and the results were disastrous. Now new concepts of happiness and a good life need to be formed that are sufficiently lasting and effective. Perhaps they must start with the cultivation of society and the establishment of a value system for the good life.

By 徐贲 Xu Ben

Translated by Kelly Kniha.

My notes:

*1: The author uses 内疚, or compunction as a synonym for guilt. The first character 内 meaning “inside” illustrates the author’s point that guilt is in the heart, in contrast to shame which comes from the outside.

*2: “Second set of tits” comes from 二奶 which literally means “two/second breast”. The term refers to a man’s mistress (not elective surgery) and objectifies women by reducing them to body parts, so I thought “second set of tits” was an apt translation. The author brings up the practice of lovers supporting their mistresses financially as a form of prostitution, which it is.

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