【英文版·推荐语】Lawrence H Summers: guided tour to the world of thought
Zach: So could we begin with you introducing yourself?
Lawrence H Summers: My name is Larry Summers（Lawrence H Summers）. I am a professor of economics at Harvard. I was at earlier time the president of the university. And I also worked in the US government in the Treasury Department, ultimately the secretary of the treasury, and then as the chief economic advisor to President Obama during the first years of the financial crisis. I am married to Elisa New and between us we have 6 children in their 20s and earlier 30s.
Zach: What in your view does it mean to become educated?
Lawrence H Summers: It means understanding the major ways in which human beings think, as they appreciate beauty, as they contemplate humanities and its emotions, as they long to deduce how the world, both natural world and the social world operate. And above all it means developing the capacity to learn new ideas and to absorb new ideas and very crucially to change one’s mind. I believe that understanding ideas of truth. One never finds ultimate truth, but by thinking, by reasoning, by debating, by arguing, by analyzing, by looking at data, by considering texts, one approaches the truth more closely. Having them appreciating that process is being educated.
Zach: Wonderful answer. Thank you. Ok. Next question. What two or three pieces of advice you give to young people today who are starting their educations?
Lawrence H Summers: Stay flexible. Don’t think you know what interests you most or what you think about giving questions. Always be open to new experience. Do what excited you, not what you feel an obligation to do or what someone else tells you that you must do. Find both examples and areas that intrigue and interest you, and individuals who inspire you. When you find an individual who inspires you, try to follow them for a while because you learn most and do best when you are inspired.
Zach: Mentors have been so important in my life. That’s a great answer. Could you tell us which two or three books have been most important in your life?
Lawrence H Summers: We’ve talked about Keynes’ General Theory. I read a book by a Harvard professor. He died a few years ago, Howard Raiffa, about decisions and analysis when I was in tenth grade and I was15 years old. That was a kind of textbook that showed me how you could think about personal problems, social problems, policy problems using the tools of mathematics that I loved. And that book had a very, very powerful influence on me. In a different sense, a very different way, I read a book The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam, about the experience of United States getting into the Vietnam War and the mistakes that had been made by very smart people who worked as wise as they were smart in getting United States into Vietnam. That is a very usefully questionary book for me.
Zach: OK. Great. You were the president of Harvard and had the role of shaping how education happened there. For many of our listeners, especially those in China and they are very interested in what Harvard education is like. Could you give us a sense of what is at core of Harvard education? What is that experience?
Lawrence H Summers: At its best, Harvard education challenges people to be part of the greatest human adventure there is. Understand the world better so the world can be better. And it exposes people and familiarizes them with some of the great triumphs to increase understanding in the past. It points out the questions that are still very much open whereas even with all has happened. We don’t know the answers. And it tries to equip them to contribute to the greatest adventure of getting closer to finding the answers to those questions.
Lawrence H Summers: Writ large【本课程英文版名称，为喜马拉雅官方自制】is your guided tour to the world of thought, some of the greatest attractions. In that world, most important, influential books ever written are what you visited and your guides are some of the leading minds and scholars of our time.