思考 · 未分類

歷史宿命?


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這幾個月認真地修了兩門課:Buddhism and Modern Psychology (@ Princeton University) 和 The Modern World: Global History since 1760 (@ University of Virginia),兩科皆已近尾聲。前者是佛學思想與現代心理學的交互對照,後者講述人類的決定如何影響近代歷史的發展歷程。兩科殊途同歸,帶來不少啟示。

當中最深刻者,莫過於人類如何不停重複著以往的錯誤,而且錯誤來源於人類演化過程中發展出來的思考模式。此模式有助於個體在汰弱留強的天擇 (natural selection) 機制下生存,卻鼓勵個體或族群間的不斷鬥爭。對照我之前讀過的另一些文章,似乎這些模式不論在人類還是人類的近親黑猩猩 (chimpanzees) 的族群之中都能看到。人類永遠無法從歷史中得到教訓,不只源於愚昧或缺乏歷史知識,也源於人類大腦中難以避免的非理性反應。

由是觀之,長久的世界和平乃不可能,人類的發展趨勢必然是在不斷的戰爭中互相兼併和掠奪資源,最後隨著戰爭的破壞力越來越大,達到某個臨界點而最終導致滅絕。換句話說,生物演化機制是個自組織過程,會令任何物種最終趨向自動毁滅。此過程猶水之就下,像統計力學中的吸引子 (attractor),乃大勢所趨,不能倖免。這也是科學家對費米悖論 (Fermi Paradox) 提出的其中一項解釋。費米悖論指出,宇宙中適合生物生存的行星不知凡幾,長達137億年的宇宙歷史亦有足夠時間發展出高智能生命,但我們一直沒有遇到跟我們接觸的外星生命。原因之一,是高等生物的發展都有類似我們的自相殘殺而最終同歸於盡的傾向,即高等生物的發展都有一個大限,在他們能夠縱橫宇宙之前,早就自趨滅亡。

以下節錄點出了為何野心家輕易就能挑起仇恨和戰爭,對照如今每天新聞裡見到的事情,實在令人擔心:

“When a nation is deciding whether or not to go to war it really matters how the people in the other country and the leader of the country are framed. And this helps explain why people who are trying to encourage you to go to war will tend to frame the leader in the country they want to invade as as evil as possible. People who supported the war in America, some of them at least, not all of them, compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler and who, of course, is as evil as it gets… and once you frame the leader of the nation you hope to invade as an enemy, once you’ve got that frame firmly set, it’s very hard for him to get out of it. Because if he does anything good, or anything accommodating, it’ll be attributed to external circumstances but whenever he does anything bad, it will be taken as more evidence of how bad he is.” – Prof. Robert Wright, Princeton University in Lecture 5.1, Buddhism and Modern Psychology, Coursera

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