佛教与科技创新:历史背景與现代挑战

佛教与科技创新:历史背景與现代挑战

佛教与科技创新:历史背景與现代挑战 国际研讨会 (英属哥伦比亚大学; 2019年9月20-22日)   现向各界学者诚挚征稿! 本次研讨会由天柱全球佛学网络主办,英属哥伦比亚大学的“拔地入云”计划(www.frogbear.org)(由加拿大社会科学与人文科学研究委员会[SSHRC]所赞助的一个大型国际性丶跨学科的有关佛学与东亚宗教的多年研究计划)承办。此次研讨会将於2019年9月20-22日於英属哥伦比亚大学举办。 一般言之,科学与宗教其使命丶精神与实现途径皆有不同,前者追求理性丶实证,而後者则诉诸感性与信仰;前者打破禁区与神圣,後者则膜拜禁忌与神圣。因此,近现代启蒙运动所带来世界巨变的过程,也被视为是打破中世纪宗教垄断与蒙昧主义的过程。在东亚,学者们也大都视佛教为阻碍此一地域古代科技进步的负面力量,大多忽视了佛教与佛教徒在促进科学技术进步进程之中所起到的巨大作用。现在是时候反思,在前现代时期,宗教与科技是不是并非如我们所认为的那样决然冲突,而是存在着容易被我们所忽视的共生丶有时甚至是相辅相成的关系。 以印刷术为例,公元七世纪开始印刷术在东亚繁荣,相当程度上可视作佛教这一宗教崇拜活动的副产品。它引发了膜拜神圣的便利性与广谱性。一边是宗教与世俗知识传播方式产生革命性的突破;另一边,中古向近古转变过程中,贵族社会崩解丶平民阶层崛起、以事功论升迁的官僚体制成型。宗教变革与社会革新同步相生,相互激荡,由宗教变革所启动的知识扩散以及与知识扩散之媒介的变化,促进东亚社会发生根本性的转变。印刷术随後如波浪般西渐,成为了欧洲宗教改革运动的推手。可以说,没有书籍印刷术就没有欧洲的宗教改革。在此,宗教的用途再次成为了科技进步的先声, 而一项貌似琐碎的技术革新却能在社会丶政治丶与宗教领域引发海啸级的巨变。这种出於宗教目的的技术升级,打破了知识垄断丶加快了文明传递的速度,最终推动了整个世界文明的进步。 作为中华古文明“四大发明”之一的火药,又是另一明证。学者们惯常于将此一发明与道教的炼丹术挂钩,但新近的研究却表明,公元7世纪中叶一位来自南亚、精通医术与炼丹术的佛僧,可能是这一伟大发现背后被忽视了的重要一环。这支以此僧人为首的队伍,曾在此时前往五台山寻找制造火药最为关键的成份——硝石。热兵器时代的序幕就在人们渴望长生的梦想之中不经意地被揭开。但吊诡的是,它所带来的却非永生,而是成几何倍数增加的死亡数字。 与此类似,佛教对於东亚医学丶药学丶公共卫生丶天文学丶数学丶建筑学丶工艺学丶农学也都作出过巨大的贡献。囿于佛教只会束缚科技进步的偏见,学者们依然无法通盘考量佛教对科技变新的独特贡献。 宗教就其本质而言是为了在多灾多难的婆娑世界获得解脱;因此,重大的战乱丶灾异等就往往会催生丶催化新宗教丶新派系与新思想的产生,并且人们也会诉诸宗教去解决所面临的燃眉之急。而在经历了旷世绝有的二次大战的浩劫之后,人类享受了难得的七十余年的相对和平。如今却面临另一人类历史上从未经历的重大节点,即科技已然发展到了足以威胁人类共同命运的时刻。人类依然在制造日益强大丶高效的大规模杀伤性武器,足以毁灭整个地球无数次;人类正在试图修改植物丶动物乃至自身的基因,以便让通常需要千万年才能完成的生物进化过程突变於一夕丶甚至一刻。人类越来越依赖人工智能,机器也越来越成为人类身体的一部分,人与机器之间的边界变得越来越细微,并日益模糊。 科技正在使生活日益进步,并创造出貌似完美的人生,甚至有望成就永生丶乃至不老,消除人类对死亡的永恒恐惧。但吊诡的是,个体的永生可能意味着人类的灭亡,因为人类存在的标志与意义在于文化,而不完美与超越不完美的冲动,乃是产生与推进一切文化与文明形态唯一的源泉活水。个体的完美与永生,意味着人类创造文化的动力的丧失,也终将导向人类作为一种种类的消亡。成佛或被理解作一种可无限接近却不能触碰的理想境界。因此逻辑,菩萨虽能证道却选择留在娑婆世界,圆满修行于此有漏世间,就如掌握科技之种种便利与诱惑,却能够懂得适时拒斥。佛教对技术抱有睿智的克制态度,这种态度雍容大度丶随顺大化,深植于人文价值而能导引技术革新。重新找回这一态度,委实具有重要的社会意义。 对於科技应采取何种态度,持守何种底线,就不仅是人类应该共同关心的重要课题,更是佛教学术界利用既有学术资源,以历史中佛教应对重大危机挑战时的表现,来观照当今现实的一个良好契机。由本於此,本次研讨会不但会关注佛教与科技互动之过往历史,也将放眼科技昌明却日益走向危险边缘的人类未来情境。研讨会的课题包括丶但并不限於,以下几种: 佛教与科学技术之区别丶关联与互动:历史丶现在与未来; 同步或错步:科技与佛教在亚洲的传播; 知识传播媒介的变化与宗教变革:聚焦佛教在亚洲的演变历史; 佛教与科技创新:历史的个案研究; 佛教与科技创新:思想与理念的分析; 信仰与理性之间:僧侣科学家; 人工智能所带来的机遇与威胁:来自佛教的思考; 以电脑技术来研究东亚佛教的现实与前景。 会议组委会欢迎任何有关科技发展史中的佛教角色扮演与责任担当的投稿。与会的相关费用,包括会议期间的食宿费用,将由会议组织方承担。会议组织方也将视资金的宽裕度,为有需要的与会成员提供部分旅费津贴。请将论文研究计画与个人简历於2019年4月15日前电邮至frogbear.project@ubc.ca。 Continue reading

Writing “The Book of Rivers and Lakes”

Writing “The Book of Rivers and Lakes”

September 1-2, 2017. Vancouver, Canada.
“Writing The Book of Rivers and Lakes (Jianghu)” was a planning workshop for a co-authored encyclopedic book-length study entitled The Book of River and Lake. This workshop brought together specialists in a variety of fields to design a learning, teaching, and research resource related to this influential cultural idea.

When the Himalaya Meets with Alps: International Forum on Buddhist Art & Buddhism’s Transmission to Europe

When the Himalaya Meets with Alps: International Forum on Buddhist Art & Buddhism’s Transmission to Europe

August 27, 28, 2016. Madrid, Spain.
As one of the world’s three major religions, during the long process of its transmission, Buddhism continuously disseminated Indian art across vast regions outside of South Asia. At the same time, Buddhism fused with local native cultural and artistic traditions, unceasingly creating new from the old and bringing about the development of numerous new dazzling artistic traditions. The history of the far-reaching transmission of Buddhism is an extremely important, inseparable part of the overall process of development of the arts of mankind.

Lines and Enlightenment: Chan Buddhism and Literature in Medieval China

August 9, 2016. Vancouver, Canada.
The relationship between literary and religious activities has been a lasting theme for any society of any time all over the world. One lens to see through the patterns of interactions between the religious and literary practitioners is provided by the relationship between Chan Buddhism and literature in medieval China. This one-day workshop, co-sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the UBC Buddhist Studies Forum, invites several top scholars based in China and Canada to jointly shed new light on this intriguing issue.

The Second International Conference on the Wutai Cult

July 19-24, 2016. Great Sage Monastery of Bamboo Grove, Mount Wutai, China.
Located in central China, the mountain range known as Wutai 五臺 was perceived as the new Chinese abode for the famous Indian bodhisattva, Mañjuśrī. As such, it came to be widely venerated by Buddhist believers from all over East Asia. This conference explores a plethora of trans-cultural, multi-ethnic, and cross-regional factors that contributed to the formation and transformation of the cult centered on Wutai and its dwelling bodhisattva (Mañjuśrī), as well as the “international” roles (religious, political, economic, commercial, diplomatic and even military) that the Wutai-centered cult has played in Asia and beyond.

“Compassionate Killing”: Violence in East Asian Buddhism

May 29, 2016. Vancouver, Canada.
This workshop aims to throw light on East Asian Buddhism’s involvement in warfare and other violent and semi-violent activities (e.g., military chaplains and counsellors, warriors, practitioners and promoters of the martial arts, and spices). In addition to bringing to light an important (and severely understudied) front in which the samgha (i.e., Buddhist community) intervened in the secular world, this workshop will also underscore the necessity to move beyond studying the “real situation of Buddhism” through the prism of the Buddhist precepts, which prescribed, rather than described, the circumstances under which the samgha grew and was transformed. Another aim is to study new features and patterns of state-samgha relations in East Asia.

East Asian Manuscript and Print as Harbingers of the Digital Future

May 26-28, 2016. Vancouver, Canada.
While considering reading, writing, and media today alongside Asian traditions of the past, this event will also look ahead toward ways of preserving and transmitting the past, including demonstrations of digitization in the fields of education, library studies, journalism, history, literature, and religion. The roundtable will bring scholars, curators, librarians, community leaders, and policymakers into conversation to examine an array of approaches and technologies.