佛教與科技創新:  歷史背景與現代挑戰

佛教與科技創新: 歷史背景與現代挑戰

佛教與科技創新:歷史背景與現代挑戰 國際研討會 (英屬哥倫比亞大學; 2019年9月20-22日)   現向各界學者誠摯征稿! 本次研討會由天柱全球佛學網絡主辦,英屬哥倫比亞大學的“拔地入雲”計劃(www.frogbear.org)(由加拿大社會科學與人文科學研究委員會[SSHRC]所贊助的一個大型國際性、跨學科的有關佛學與東亞宗教的多年研究計劃)承辦。此次研討會將於2019年9月20-22日於英屬哥倫比亞大學舉辦。 一般言之,科學與宗教其使命、精神與實現途徑皆有不同,前者追求理性、實證,而後者則訴諸感性與信仰;前者打破禁區與神聖,後者則膜拜禁忌與神聖。因此,近現代啟蒙運動所帶來世界巨變的過程,也被視為是打破中世紀宗教壟斷與蒙昧主義的過程。在東亞,學者們也大都視佛教為阻礙此一地域古代科技進步的負面力量,大多忽視了佛教與佛教徒在促進科學技術進步進程之中所起到的巨大作用。現在是時候反思,在前現代時期,宗教與科技是不是並非如我們所認為的那樣決然衝突,而是存在著容易被我們所忽視的共生、有時甚至是相輔相成的關係。 以印刷術為例,公元七世紀開始印刷術在東亞繁榮,相當程度上可視作佛教這一宗教崇拜活動的副產品。它引發了膜拜神聖的便利性與廣譜性。一邊是宗教與世俗知識傳播方式產生革命性的突破;另一邊,中古向近古轉變過程中,貴族社會崩解、平民階層崛起、以事功論升遷的官僚體制成型。宗教變革與社會革新同步相生,相互激蕩,由宗教變革所啟動的知識擴散以及與知識擴散之媒介的變化,促進東亞社會發生根本性的轉變。印刷術隨後如波浪般西漸,成為了歐洲宗教改革運動的推手。可以說,沒有書籍印刷術就沒有歐洲的宗教改革。在此,宗教的用途再次成為了科技進步的先聲, 而一項貌似瑣碎的技術革新卻能在社會、政治、與宗教領域引發海嘯級的巨變。這種出於宗教目的的技術升級,打破了知識壟斷、加快了文明傳遞的速度,最終推動了整個世界文明的進步。 作為中華古文明“四大發明”之一的火藥,又是另一明證。學者們慣常於將此發明與道教煉丹術掛鉤,但新近的研究卻表明,公元7世紀中葉一位來自錫蘭的、精通醫術與煉丹術的佛僧,可能是這一偉大發現背後被忽視了的重要一環。這支以此僧人為首的隊伍前往五台山尋找制造火藥最為關鍵的成份——硝石。熱兵器時代的序幕就在人們渴望長生的夢想之中不經意地被揭開。但弔詭的是,它所帶來的卻非永生,而是成幾何倍數增加的死亡數字。 與此類似,佛教對於東亞醫學、藥學、公共衛生、天文學、數學、建築學、工藝學、農學也都作出過巨大的貢獻。囿於佛教只會束縛科技進步的偏見,學者們依然無法通盤考量佛教對科技變新的獨特貢獻。 宗教就其本質而言是為了在多災多難的婆娑世界獲得解脱;因此,重大的戰亂、災異等就往往會催生、催化新宗教、新派系與新思想的產生,並且人們也會訴諸宗教去解決所面臨的燃眉之急。而在經歷了曠世絕有的二次大戰的浩劫之後,人類享受了難得的七十多年的相對和平。如今卻面臨另一人類歷史上從未經歷的重大節點,即科技已然發展到了足以威脅人類共同命運的時刻。人類依然在制造日益強大、高效的大規模殺傷性武器,足以毀滅整個地球無數次;人類正在試圖修改植物、動物乃至自身的基因,以便讓通常需要千萬年才能完成的生物進化過程突變於一夕、甚至一刻。人類越來越依賴人工智能,機器也越來越成為人類身體的一部分,人與機器之間的邊界變得越來越細微,並日益模糊。 科技正在讓生活日益進步,並創造出貌似完美的人生,甚至有望成就永生、乃至不老,消除人類對死亡的永恆恐懼。但吊詭的是,個體的永生可能意味著人類的滅亡,因為人類存在的標志與意義在於文化,而不完美與超越不完美的衝動,乃是產生與推進一切文化與文明形態唯一的源泉活水。個體的完美與永生,意味著人類創造文化的動力的喪失,也終將導向人類作為一種種類的消亡。成佛或被理解作一種可無限接近卻不能觸碰的理想境界;本此邏輯,菩薩雖能證道卻選擇留在娑婆世界,圓滿修行於此有漏世間,就如掌握科技之種種便利與誘惑,卻能懂得適時拒斥。佛教對技術抱有睿智的克制態度,這種態度雍容大度、隨順大化,深植於人文價值而能導引技術革新。重新找回這一態度,委實具有重要的社會意義。 對於科技應采取何種態度,持守何種底線,就不僅是人類應該共同關心的重要課題,更是佛教學術界利用既有學術資源,以歷史中佛教應對重大危機挑戰時的表現,來觀照當今現實的一個良好契機。由本於此,本次研討會不但會關注佛教與科技互動之過往歷史,也將放眼科技昌明卻日益走向危險邊緣的人類未來情境。研討會的課題包括、但並不限於,以下幾種: 佛教與科學技術之區別、關聯與互動:歷史、現在與未來; 同步或錯步:科技與佛教在亞洲的傳播; 知識傳播媒介的變化與宗教變革:聚焦佛教在亞洲的演變歷史; 佛教與科技創新:歷史的個案研究; 佛教與科技創新:思想與理念的分析; 信仰與理性之間:僧侶科學家; 人工智能所帶來的機遇與威脅:來自佛教的思考; 以電腦技術來研究東亞佛教的現實與前景。 會議組委會歡迎任何有關科技發展史中的佛教角色扮演與責任擔當的投稿。與會的相關費用,包括會議期間的食宿費用,將由會議組織方承擔。會議組織方也將視資金的寬裕度,為有需要的與會成員提供部分旅費津貼。請將論文研究計畫與個人簡歷於2019年4月15日前電郵至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.