JONATHAN COOK APRIL 19, 2021

乔纳森 · 库克 2021年4月19日

Back in the 1880s, the mathematician and theologian Edwin Abbott tried to help us better understand our world by describing a very different one he called Flatland.

早在19世纪80年代,数学家和神学家埃德温 · 阿博特试图帮助我们更好地理解我们的世界,他描述了一个非常不同的世界,他称之为“平面国”(Flatland)。

Imagine a world that is not a sphere moving through space like our own planet, but more like a vast sheet of paper inhabited by conscious, flat geometric shapes. These shape-people can move forwards and backwards, and they can turn left and right. But they have no sense of up or down. The very idea of a tree, or a well, or a mountain makes no sense to them because they lack the concepts and experiences of height and depth. They cannot imagine, let alone describe, obxts familiar to us.

想象一下这样一个世界,它不像我们的星球那样,是一个在空间中移动的球体,而像是一张巨大的纸,上面居住着有意识的、平面的、基于统一编码标准的几何图形人,这些二维“类人体”可以前进和后退,可以左转和右转,但是他们没有上升感或下降感,一棵树,一口井,一座山对他们来说毫无意义,因为他们缺乏关于高度和深度的概念和经验,他们无法想象我们的世界,更不用说描述我们熟悉的事物。

In this two-dimensional world, the closest scientists can come to comprehending a third dimension are the baffling gaps in measurements that register on their most sophisticated equipment. They sense the shadows cast by a larger universe outside Flatland. The best brains infer that there must be more to the universe than can be observed but they have no way of knowing what it is they don’t know.

在这个二维的世界里,科学家们能理解的最接近第三维度的东西,就是他们最精密的仪器上记录的那些令人困惑的测量误差。
他们能感觉到平面国之外更大宇宙投下的阴影,他们之中最优秀的大脑推断宇宙中一定有比观测到的更多的东西,但他们没有办法知道他们不知道的东西。



Paradox and mystery

悖论与神秘

Science has sought to shrink the realm of the inexplicable. We now understand – at least approximately – the laws of nature that govern the weather and catastrophic events like an earthquake. Telescopes and rocket-ships have also allowed us to probe deeper into the heavens to make a little more sense of the universe outside our tiny corner of it.

科学试图缩小无法解释的领域,我们现在至少大致了解了支配天气和灾难性事件 (如地震) 的自然法则,望远镜、火箭、飞船也使我们能够更深入地探索宇宙,让我们对我们这个小角落之外的宇宙有更多的了解。

But the more we investigate the universe the more rigid appear the limits to our knowledge. Like the shape-people of Flatland, our ability to understand is constrained by the dimensions we can observe and experience: in our case, the three dimensions of space and the additional one of time. Influential “string theory” posits another six dimensions, though we would be unlikely to ever sense them in any more detail than the shadows almost-detected by the scientists of Flatland.

但是,我们对宇宙研究得越多,我们的知识就显得越有限,就像“平面国”的二维类人体一样,我们的理解能力也受到我们可以观察和体验的维度的限制 :
对我们来说,是三维空间和时间这一额外维度,颇具影响力的“弦理论”假设了另外的六个维度,就像平面国的科学家们探测到的阴影一样,我们几乎不太可能在任何细节上感觉到它们 。

The deeper we peer into the big universe of the night sky and our cosmic past, and the deeper we peer into the small universe inside the atom and our personal past, the greater the sense of mystery and wonder.
At the sub-atomic level, the normal laws of physics break down. Quantum mechanics is a best-guess attempt to explain the mysteries of movement of the tiniest particles we can observe, which appear to be operating, at least in part, in a dimension we cannot observe directly.

我们越深入地观察夜空中的浩瀚宇宙和我们宇宙的过,越深入地观察原子内部的小宇宙和我们个人的过去,我们就越感到神秘和惊奇。
在亚原子水平上,物理学的正常定律被打破了——量子力学是一个很好的猜测,试图解释我们能观察到的最小粒子运动的奥秘,这些粒子似乎至少部分地在我们无法直接观察到的维度中运作。

And most cosmologists, looking outwards rather inwards, have long known that there are questions we are unlikely ever to answer: not least what exists outside our universe – or expressed another way, what existed before the Big Bang. For some time, dark matter and black holes have baffled the best minds. This month scientists conceded to the New York Times that there are forms of matter and energy unknown to science but which can be inferred because they disrupt the known laws of physics.
Inside and outside the atom, our world is full of paradox and mystery.

大多数的宇宙学家都是向外看,而不是向内看,他们早就知道有一些问题我们可能永远无法回答 :
尤其是我们的宇宙之外存在什么——或者用另一种方式表达,即大爆炸之前存在什么。
一段时间以来,暗物质和黑洞一直困扰着最聪明的头脑,本月,科学家们向《纽约时报》承认,有一些形式的物质和能量是科学所不知道的,但可以推断出来,因为它们破坏了已知的物理定律。
—— 在原子内外,我们的世界充满了悖论和神秘。

Conceit and humility

自负和谦逊


The greatest scientists do not make this mistake. As an avid viewer of science programmes like the BBC’s Horizon, I am always struck by the number of cosmologists who openly speak of their religious belief. Carl Sagan, the most famous cosmologist, never lost his sense of awestruck wonder as he examined the universe. Outside the lab, his was not the language of hard, cold, calculating science. He described the universe in the language of poetry. He understood the necessary limits of science. Rather than being threatened by the universe’s mysteries and paradoxes, he celebrated them.

最伟大的科学家不会犯这样的错误,作为一个BBC《地平线》( Horizon ) 等科学节目的忠实观众,我时常为这么多公开谈论自己宗教信仰的宇宙学家所震撼。卡尔·萨根,最著名的宇宙学家,他在研究宇宙时从未失去敬畏之心,在实验室之外,他并不是用冷酷无情、精于计算的科学语言而是诗歌的语言来描绘宇宙,他理解科学的局限性,他没有被宇宙的神秘和悖论所威胁,而是赞美它们。

When in 1990, for example, space probe Voyager 1 showed us for the first time our planet from 6 billion km away, Sagan did not mistake himself or his fellow NASA scientists for gods. He saw “a pale blue dot” and marvelled at a planet reduced to a “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”. Humility was his response to the vast scale of the universe, our fleeting place within it, and our struggle to grapple with “the great enveloping cosmic dark”.

例如,当1990年航天探测器旅行者1号第一次从60亿公里外向我们展示我们的星球时,萨根并没有把他自己或他的 NASA 科学家同事误当成上帝,他看到了“一个淡蓝色的小点”,惊叹于一颗行星竟然变成了“悬浮在阳光中的一粒尘埃”,谦逊是他对浩瀚宇宙的回应,是对我们在宇宙中短暂的存在的回应,是对我们与“浩瀚宇宙的黑暗”搏斗的回应。

Mind and matter

思想和物质


Until relatively recently, science, philosophy and theology sought to investigate the same mysteries and answer the same existential questions. Through much of history, they were seen as complementary, not in competition. Abbott, remember, was a mathematician and theologian, and Flatland was his attempt to explain the nature of faith. Similarly, the man who has perhaps most shaped the paradigm within which much western science still operates was a French philosopher using the scientific methods of the time to prove the existence of God.

直到不久以前,科学、哲学和神学都试图探索同样的奥秘,回答同样的存在主义问题,纵观历史,它们被视为互补,而不是竞争。埃德温 · 阿博特,是一位数学家和神学家,他试图以二维的“平面国”来解释信仰的本质,同样地,也许最能体现这一点的是一位法国哲学家,他塑造了众多如今西方科学仍在运作的范式,他用当时的科学方法来证明上帝的存在。




Hearing a Native American or an Australian Aboriginal speak of the sacred significance of a river or a rock – or about their ancestors – is to become suddenly aware of how alien their thinking sounds to our “modern” ears. It is the moment when we are likely to respond in one of two ways: either to smirk internally at their childish ignorance, or to gulp at a wisdom that seems to fill a yawning emptiness in our own lives.

当我们听到美洲原住民或澳大利亚土著人谈论河流或岩石的神圣意义——或谈论他们的祖先——我们就会猛然意识到他们的思想对于我们的“现代”来说是多么陌生,那一刹那,我们可能会有两种反应:
要么在内心嗤笑他们幼稚的无知,要么吞咽下一种似乎填补了我们自己生活中巨大空虚的智慧。

Science and power

科学与力量

Descartes’ legacy – a dualism that assumes separation between soul and body, mind and matter – has in many ways proved a poisonous one for western societies. An impoverished, mechanistic worldview treats both the planet and our bodies primarily as material obxts: one a plaything for our greed, the other a canvas for our insecurities.

笛卡尔的遗产——假定灵魂与身体、精神与物质分离的二元论——在许多方面被证明对西方社会是有害的,一个贫穷、机械的世界观把我们的星球和我们的身体主要当作物质对象: 一个是我们贪婪的玩物,另一个是描述我们不安全感的画布。


Few listened to Lovelock. Our god-complex got the better of us. And now, as the bees and other insects disappear, everything he warned of decades ago seems far more urgent. Through our arrogance, we are destroying the conditions for advanced life. If we don’t stop soon, the planet will dispose of us and return to an earlier stage of its evolution. It will begin again, without us, as simple flora and microbes once again begin recreating gradually – measured in aeons – the conditions favourable to higher life forms.

很少有人愿意听洛夫洛克的话,我们的上帝情结战胜了我们,如今,随着蜜蜂和其他昆虫的消失,他几十年前警告的一切似乎都变得更加紧迫,由于我们的傲慢,我们正在破坏高级生命生存的条件,如果我们不尽快停下来,这个星球就会抛弃我们,退回到它进化的早期阶段,如果没有我们,它将再次开始,因为简单的植物群和微生物再次开始逐渐重新创造——以亿万年为单位——有利于更高级生命形式的条件。


In part, the medical establishment, like all establishments, has been corrupted by the desire for power and enrichment. Science is not some pristine discipline, free from real-world pressures. Scientists need funding for research, they have mortgages to pay, and they crave status and career advancement like everyone else.

在某种程度上,医疗机构就像其它所有机构一样,已经被权力和财富的渴望所腐蚀,科学不是一门没有现实压力的原始学科,科学家需要研究经费,他们也需要还抵押贷款,他们和其他人一样渴望地位和职业发展。

Kamran Abbasi, executive editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote an editorial last November warning of British state corruption that had been unleashed on a grand scale by covid-19. But it was not just politicians responsible. Scientists and health experts had been implicated too: “The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency.”

去年11月,《英国医学杂志》(British Medical Journal) 的执行编辑卡姆阿巴西去年11月在一篇社论中警告称,Covid19引发了英国政府的大规模腐败,但这不仅仅是政客们的责任,科学家和健康专家也牵涉其中: “疫情暴露了一个在紧急情况下操纵医学和政治复合体。”

He added: “The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.”

他补充说: “英国的疫情应对措施过于依赖科学家和其他政府官员,他们存在令人担忧的利益冲突,包括在生产Covid19诊断检测、治疗和疫苗的公司的股份。”

Doctors and clerics

医生和牧师

But in some ways Abbasi is too generous. Scientists haven’t only corrupted science by prioritising their personal, political and commercial interests. Science itself is shaped and swayed by the ideological assumptions of scientists and the wider societies to which they belong. For centuries, Descartes’ dualism has provided the lens through which scientists have often developed and justified medical treatments and procedures. Medicine has its fashions too, even if they tend to be longer-lived – and more dangerous – than the ones of the clothing industry.

但在某种程度上说,阿巴西还是低估了,科学家不仅仅因为优先考虑个人、政治和商业利益而腐化了科学,科学本身是由科学家的意识假设和他们所属的更广泛的社会塑造和影响的,几个世纪以来,笛卡尔的二元论为科学家提供了一个透镜,通过这个透镜,科学家们经常通过这个透镜来发展和证明医学治疗及其程序是正确的,医学也有它的时尚,尽管它们往往比服装业的时尚寿命更长——也更危险。


But the mechanistic view of health has been hard to shake off, even as scientific understanding – and exposure to non-western medical traditions – should have made it seem ever less credible. Cartesian dualism reigns to this day, seen in the supposedly strict separation of physical and mental health. To treat the mind and body as indivisible, as two sides of the same coin, is to risk being accused of quackery. “Holistic” medicine still struggles to be taken seriously.

但是,对健康的机械论观点一直难以摆脱,即使科学理解——以及对非西方医学传统的接触——本应让这种观点看起来更不可信。
笛卡尔的二元论统治至今,被视为身体和精神健康的严格分离,如果有人把精神和身体视为不可分割的,就像一枚硬币的两面,很可能会被指控为江湖骗子,“整体医学”仍然难以得到认真对待。

Faced with a fear-inducing pandemic, the medical establishment has inevitably reverted even more strongly to type. The virus has been viewed through a single lens: as an invader seeking to overwhelm our defences, while we are seen as vulnerable patients in desperate need of an extra battalion of soldiers who can help us to fight it off. With this as the dominant frxwork, it has fallen to Big Pharma – the medical corporations with the greatest firepower – to ride to our rescue.

面对一场引发恐惧的大流行,医疗机构已不可避免地、更加强烈地回归传统,人们从一个单一的角度来看待这种病毒:
将其视为试图摧毁我们的防御系统的“入侵者”,而将我们视为迫切需要更多“士兵”来帮助我们战胜病毒的脆弱病人。
有了这一主导框架,就轮到大型制药公司——拥有“最强大火力”的医药公司——来拯救我们了。

Vaccines are part of an emergency solution, of course. They will help save lives among the most vulnerable. But the reliance on vaccines, to the exclusion of everything else, is a sign that once again we are being lured back to viewing our bodies as machines. We are being told by the medical establishment we can ride out this war with some armour-plating from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. We can all be Robocop in the battle against Covid-19.

当然,疫苗是紧急解决方案的一部分,它们有助于挽救最脆弱群体的生命,但是,对疫苗的依赖以及对其他一切的排斥是一个迹象,表明我们再一次被引诱回到将我们的身体视为机器的思想,医疗机构告诉我们,只要辉瑞、莫德纳、阿斯利康提供一些“装甲”就能让我们安然度过这场战争,我们都可以成为对抗冠状病毒的“机器战警”。

But there are others ways to view health than as an expensive, resource-depleting technological battle against virus-warriors. Where is the focus on improving the ever-more nutrient-deficient, processed, pesticide-laden, and sugar and chemical-rich diets most of us consume? How do we address the plague of stress and anxiety we all endure in a competitive, digitally connected, no-rest world stripped of all spiritual meaning? What do we do about the cosseted lifestyles we prefer, where exertion is a lifestyle choice renamed as exercise rather than integral to our working day, and where regular exposure to sunshine, outside of a beach vacation, is all but impossible in our office-bound schedules?

但除了将健康视为一场昂贵的、耗尽资源的技术战争以对抗病毒入侵者之外,还有其他方式来看待健康。
我们大多数人的饮食越来越缺乏营养,我们的食物是加工过的、含农药的、富含糖和化学物质的,我们如何改善这些饮食?在一个竞争激烈、数字化连接、没有休息的世界里,我们如何应对压力和焦虑的瘟疫?对于我们喜欢的那种娇惯的生活方式,我们该怎么办? 在这样的生活方式下,运动是一种选择,被重新命名为锻炼,而不是我们日常生活不可或缺的一部分,在这样的生活方式下,除了海滩度假,经常接触阳光几乎不可能出现在我们的办公室日程表上?

Fear and quick-fixes

恐惧与速效对策

For much of human history, our chief concern was the fight for survival – against animals and other humans, against the elements, against natural disasters. Technological developments proved invaluable in making our lives safer and easier, whether it was flint axes and domesticated animals, wheels and combustion engines, medicines and mass communications. Our brains now seem hardwired to look to technological innovation to address even the smallest inconvenience, to allay even our wildest fears.

在人类历史的大部分时间里,我们主要关心的是为生存而战——对抗动物和其他人类,对抗自然环境,对抗自然灾害。
事实证明,无论是燧石斧、驯养动物、车轮、内燃机、医药和大众通讯,技术的发展都使我们的生活更安全、更方便,其价值无可估量,我们的大脑现在似乎已经习惯于依靠技术创新来解决哪怕是最小的不便,减轻我们最疯狂的恐惧。

So, of course, we have invested our hopes, and sacrificed our economies, in finding a technological fix to the pandemic. But does this exclusive fixation on technology to solve the current health crisis not have a parallel with the similar, quick-fix technological remedies we keep seeking for the many ecological crises we have created?

因此,自然而然的,我们投资于希望,牺牲我们的经济,寄望于寻找一种技术手段来解决这种流行病,但是,这种专注于技术以解决当前健康危机的做法,难道不与我们为自己已经造成的许多生态危机不断寻求的、类似的、快速解决的技术补救办法相类似吗?

Global warming? We can create an even whiter paint to reflect back the sun’s heat. Plastics in every corner of our oceans? We can build giant vacuum-cleaners that will suck it all out. Vanishing bee populations? We can invent pollinator drones to take their place. A dying planet? Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk will fly millions of us to space colonies.

全球变暖?我们可以造一种更白的油漆来反射太阳的热量。
塑料遍布我们海洋的每一个角落 ?我们可以造一个巨大的真空吸尘器把它吸走。
蜜蜂种群消失?我们可以发明传粉蜂来取代它们。
星球濒临灭绝 ?杰夫 · 贝佐斯和埃隆 · 马斯克将带我们飞往太空殖民地。

Were we not so technology obsessed, were we not so greedy, were we not so terrified of insecurity and death, if we did not see our bodies and minds as separate, and humans as separate from everything else, we might pause to ponder whether our approach is not a little misguided.

如果我们不是如此痴迷于科技,如果我们不是如此贪婪,如果我们不是如此害怕不安全感和死亡,如果我们不认为我们的身体和思想是分开的,如果我们不认为人类是与其他一切分开的,我们可能会停下来思考,我们的方法是否有一点走入歧途了。

Science and technology can be wonderful things. They can advance our knowledge of ourselves and the world we inhabit. But they need to be conducted with a sense of humility we increasingly seem incapable of. We are not conquerors of our bodies, or the planet, or the universe – and if we imagine we are, we will soon find out that the battle we are waging is one we can never hope to win.

科学和技术本是美好的东西,它们可以提高我们对自己和我们居住的世界的认识,但这些行动需要本着一种谦逊的态度进行,而我们似乎越来越无能为力,我们不是我们身体、地球或宇宙的征服者——如果我们想象自己是,我们很快就会发现,我们正在进行的战斗永远不可能赢。