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2005-11-07 00:00

  Issue 23

  "Scholars and researchers should not be concerned with whether their work makes a contribution to the larger society. It is more important that they pursue their individual interests, however unusual or idiosyncratic those interests may seem."




  Should academic scholars and researchers be free to pursue whatever avenues of inquiry and research that interest them, no matter how unusual or idiosyncratic, as the speaker asserts? Or should they strive instead to focus on those areas that are most likely to benefit society?

  拿问句来起头,来质疑。脱离出了一般的解释题目的开头。虽然不是特别特别,但是还是让人感觉比较的attractive。l strongly agree with the speaker, for three reasons.非常直白的陈述自己的观点,同意speaker的观点。

  First of all,典型的连接词,开始陈述观点了。Who is to decide which areas of academic inquiry are worth while?又是一个问句,但是这个问句的作用和开篇的问句不同了,是引出来自己论证的第一个方面。Scholars cannot be left to decide.自问自答。

  Given a choice they will pursue their own idiosyncratic areas of interest, and it is highly unlikely that all scholars could reach a fully informed consensus as to what research areas would be most worthwhile. Nor can these decisions be left to regulators and legislators, who would bring to bear their own quirky notions about what would be worthwhile, and whose susceptibility to influence renders them untrustworthy in any event.

  两个否定句非常干净利索的说出作者的看法,没人有能力来决定什么是应该worth researching的。

  Secondly, by human nature we are motivated to pursue those activities in which we excel. To compel scholars to focus only on certain areas would be to force many to waste their true talents. For example, imagine relegating today's preeminent astrophysicist Stephen Hawking——霍金我想就不用介绍了吧—— to research the effectiveness of affirmative-action legislation in reducing workplace discrimination. Admittedly, this example borders on hyperbole(夸张法).Yet the aggregate effect of realistic cases would be to waste the intellectual talents of our world's scholars and researchers. Moreover, lacking genuine interest or motivation, a scholar would be unlikely to contribute meaningfully to his or her "assigned" field of study.


  Thirdly, it is "idiosyncratic" and "unusual" avenues of inquiry that lead to the greatest contributions to society. Avenues of intellectual and scientific inquiry that break no new ground amount to wasted time, talent, and other resources. History is laden with unusual claims by scholars and researchers that turned out stunningly significant——that the sun lies at the center of our universe, that time and space are relative concepts, that matter consists of discrete particles, that humans evolved from other life forms, to name a few. One current area of unusual research is terraforming——creating biological life and habitable atmospheres where none existed before. This unusual research area does not immediately address society's pressing social problems. Yet in the longer term it might be necessary to colonize other planets in order to ensure the survival of the human race; and after all, what could be a more significant contribution to society than preventing its extinction?

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