Sapiens

A Brief History of Humankind

By

Publisher: Vintage

4.7
(204)

Language: English | Number of Pages: 512 | Format: Paperback | In other languages: (other languages) Chi traditional , Chi simplified

Isbn-10: 0099590085 | Isbn-13: 9780099590088 | Publish date:  | Edition 1

Also available as: Hardcover , eBook

Category: History , Science & Nature , Social Science

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  • *** This comment contains spoilers! ***

    5

    1.人類在生物鏈的躍遷太快,讓生態系猝不及防。歷史上眾多的災難都是來自於此(19)

    2.15萬年前的東非智人已與我們相像,7萬年前開始向外遷移,於是兩種理論a.混種繁衍論:現在人是個人種和智人種的混血,如歐洲人是智人和尼安德塔人混、東亞是因智人和直立人混。b.替代理論:智人取代了所有人種,是所有現代人的祖先。前者容易變成為種族主義的支撐說法。(22)

    3.七萬至三萬年前出現認知革命,智人開始創造語 ...continue

    1.人類在生物鏈的躍遷太快,讓生態系猝不及防。歷史上眾多的災難都是來自於此(19)

    2.15萬年前的東非智人已與我們相像,7萬年前開始向外遷移,於是兩種理論a.混種繁衍論:現在人是個人種和智人種的混血,如歐洲人是智人和尼安德塔人混、東亞是因智人和直立人混。b.替代理論:智人取代了所有人種,是所有現代人的祖先。前者容易變成為種族主義的支撐說法。(22)

    3.七萬至三萬年前出現認知革命,智人開始創造語言,目的在八卦,也就是團體間各種關係的掌握,了解誰可靠可合作,因此也能擴大部落規模,然而超過150人的團體往往不能順利運作,這時候則利用「討論虛構的事物」作法,運用共同信念來使大群陌生人合作(33-38)

    4.考古偏差:時間留下能夠檢視的物品往往不能反映當時的真實樣貌。例如未來歷史學家想要瞭解21世紀台灣年輕人靠的可能是紙本書信,但能反映真實的手機、電子郵件、部落格無法以實體方式留下(p.57)

    5.整體而言現今人類所知總和超越遠古人類,但個人層面,遠古採集者是最具備多樣知識和技能的人類。自採集時代以來,智人的腦容量其實是逐漸減少的。到了農業、工業時代,人類開始能依賴他人的技能存活,就算能力低的(p.64)

    6.人類馴養植物不如說植物馴化智人,農業革命真正本質:繁衍更多人,確以更糟的狀況活下去(p.100)

    7.世界上少數顛撲不破的道理,就是原本的奢侈品往往最後會變成必需品,而且帶來新的義務,接著就是一種依賴。(p.105)

    8.史上的場場戰爭和革命,多半不是起因糧食短缺,這種災難根源在於,人類在幾百萬年的演化過程,都是幾十人的小部落,但農業革命後,短短千年出現王國、城市,但時間並不足以讓人類發展出能夠長久大規模合作的本能。

    9.金錢的運作就是要把「物質上的現實」轉變為「心理的想像」。信任是所有金錢最基本的原料,宗教信仰重點在自己相信;金錢信仰重點在他人相信。(204-210)

    10.一神教最高原則是「唯一真神確實存在,那麼他想從我這裡要到什麼」;佛教最高原則是「痛苦確實存在,我該如何逃離」佛教不否認有任何神祇存在,然而神祇對於「苦由欲起」這條定律並無能為力;如果能無欲無求任何神祇都無法讓人感到痛苦,相對的人有了慾望,任何神祇也無法拯救他脫離痛苦(255)

    11.宗教以神祇為中心;意識形態以自然律為中心。(258)

    12.一階混沌系統:不會因預測而改變
    二階混沌系統:會受到預測的影響而改變

    13.科學不會假裝自己知道未來一定會出現什麼;只有宗教和意識形態會聲稱自己知道這些答案

    14.英國皇家學會1976年派遣遠征隊到大洋洲是為了透過觀察金星凌日計算太陽與地球距離,當時船長為庫克,科學家有格林、班克斯等

    said on 

  • 0

    智人被虛構故事左右

    這本書從250萬年前開始,試圖說明智人稱霸全球、成為萬物天敵的關鍵歷程。

    閱讀之後,覺得有別於一般歷史書,沒有特定的人物、事件,而是以智人這個物種為主角,論述認知革命(7萬年前)、農業革命(1.2萬前)及科學革命(5百年前)如何擴大社群規模、增高團體競爭力,自此語言文化的演進速度高於其他物種的天擇作用,終至一枝獨秀。

    本書最獨特的觀點是:想像的能力是智人勝出的利器,憑藉著虛構故事的力量,得以大規模 ...continue

    這本書從250萬年前開始,試圖說明智人稱霸全球、成為萬物天敵的關鍵歷程。

    閱讀之後,覺得有別於一般歷史書,沒有特定的人物、事件,而是以智人這個物種為主角,論述認知革命(7萬年前)、農業革命(1.2萬前)及科學革命(5百年前)如何擴大社群規模、增高團體競爭力,自此語言文化的演進速度高於其他物種的天擇作用,終至一枝獨秀。

    本書最獨特的觀點是:想像的能力是智人勝出的利器,憑藉著虛構故事的力量,得以大規模合作,而團結力量大。有意思的是,智人被虛構故事左右,卻進而宰制萬物,語言概念的威力無與倫比,又不斷演變。此外,經過此三大革命,智人的整體能力明顯提昇,個人福祉則未必,例如,農業社會的生活並不比狩獵採集輕鬆愉快,革命或許是個大騙局?

    總之,依作者的思路引申,書中的內容亦是想像虛構的產物,你我卻身陷其中,共同編織集體意識之網,不亦樂乎?

    said on 

  • 0

    http://www.culturaeculture.it/cultura/la-storia-dellumanita-yuval-noah-harari-63441/

    http://materialismostorico.blogspot.it/2014/05/una-teodicea-evoluzionista-del-capitale.html

    http://ideas.ted.com/wh ...continue

    http://www.culturaeculture.it/cultura/la-storia-dellumanita-yuval-noah-harari-63441/

    http://materialismostorico.blogspot.it/2014/05/una-teodicea-evoluzionista-del-capitale.html

    http://ideas.ted.com/why-humans-run-the-world/

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/book-review-sapiens-a-brief-history-of-humankind-by-yuval-noah-harari-1423261230

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4850768,00.html

    said on 

  • *** This comment contains spoilers! ***

    5

    I feel that I have learnt a lot of from this book, both in knowledge (such as the genus of Homo at the beginning of the book) and a few ideas which seem so obvious now but somehow I haven’t realized b ...continue

    I feel that I have learnt a lot of from this book, both in knowledge (such as the genus of Homo at the beginning of the book) and a few ideas which seem so obvious now but somehow I haven’t realized before. ( Well, the principle of equivlance has been “obvious” enough ! ) Though I might have some vague and confusing ideas about these biological / archaeological / anthropological knowledge, I certainly haven’t been able to remember their names and (exact) definitions. Let me write down a few simple things before I forget:

    p.4 (lines 16-18): "Animals are said to belong to the same species if they tend to mate with each other, giving birth to fertile offspring."

    p.6: Homo neanderthalensis were in Europe and western Asia, Home erectus in East Asia and Homo soloensis in Java, Indonesia.

    p.14: Around 70000 years ago, Homo sapiens spread from East Africa to Asia and all over the world. Other Homo species (humans) have vanished and there are two theories of explanation, “Interbreeding Theory” (eg. Sapiens & Neanderthals in Europe / Sapiens & Erectus in East Asia) and “Replacement Theory”. The latter “has been the common wisdom in the field as “it had firmer archaeological backing” and “more politically correct” (last paragraph on p.15) :-) Nevertheless, there started to have some evidence of “interbreeding” from DNA analyses (p.16) since 2010 though the extent seems small (eg. 1-4% or 6%).

    I certainly have felt very rewarding to learn all the details. But towards the end, the discussions, theories and the author’s extrapolations have become more and more speculative. One realizes that they’re probably no longer any “standard model” of history but the opinions of the author’s.

    One message in this book has come across as a bit of a surprise, even though it’s obvious as an afterthought. The author told or reminded us that not just various religions, most things in our lives are actually only our imagined ideas such as liberalism, limited liability companies or countries. Sapiens have been able to dominate the world mainly due to this kind of superior cognitive ability to take over the world from other human species and other animals which may be bigger in size or faster in speed etc. The author calls it “The Cognitive Revolution”. Though we all know that human rights are not apples that one may grasp (to eat), when I was told that ideas such as human rights or liberalism are just (like) different kinds of religions, I still feel a bit shocked or lost. It’s probably like one’s religion has been attacked. Nevertheless, when one reflects on this, all liberty, equality etc. are merely what we have in our brain/imagination. I probably don’t think in the same way as the author does, as I think believing in one’s individualism or liberty is different from religion that one doesn’t need to believe a God or what miracles have happened. Belief in liberty is more like a demand or upholding a principle rather than a religion. However, I have to admit that after all, it’s probably not less ephemeral or volatile than any religion ?!

    I thought I was familiar with the idea of the Scientific Revolution but the author has still managed to tell me something refreshing. The author calls the Scientific Revolution “a revolution of ignorance” (12th line on p.251) as people have discovered that there are/were many things that we don’t/didn’t know yet. This has made us feel that tomorrow will be better than today, due to all kinds of scientific and technological advancement. This then allowed the emergence of growth which has been translated to the explosion of the credit giving. As tomorrow’s pie would be bigger than today’s, the abundance of credit has allowed capitalism to grow even until now. Before the Scientific Revolution (~1500 AD), people didn’t see any way that tomorrow would be improved upon compared to today (as people then thought that they knew everything they needed to know), they didn’t believe that the pie could be bigger tomorrow; and therefore, credit giving to a person was betting on that person being able to grab a piece of the pie from somebody else, instead of a new or bigger pie :-) This has suppressed credit giving. How interesting and insightful !

    In Chapter 11, “Imperial Visions”, the author told us that there has been no real justice in history (but, in my words, only victory and defeat). Our thoughts have been heavily shaded by various empires. Since I am most familiar with the history of China, when the author discussed about the situation in China, I feel that it resonates with me. Let me write down two such instances. On p.197 (lines 12-21): “In Chinese political thinking as well as Chinese historical memory, imperial periods were henceforth seen as golden ages of order and justice. In contradiction to the modern Western view that a just world is composed of separate nation states, in China periods of political fragmentation were seen as dark ages of chaos and injustice … Every time an empire collapsed, the dominant political theory goaded the powers that be not to settle for paltry independent principalities, but to attempt reunification. Sooner or later these attempts always succeeded.” On p.201 (lines 23-31): “In China the success of the imperial project was even more thorough. For more than 2,000 years, a welter of ethnic and cultural groups first termed barbarians were successfully integrated into imperial Chinese culture and became Han Chinese … More than 90 per cent of the population of China are seen by themselves and by others as Han.” This just feels so true. All the rulers have made use of patriotism and unity to their advantage and somehow it has worked so thoroughly with the so-called Chinese !

    When I first saw the title of the last chapter “The End of Homo Sapiens”, I told myself that the author must be talking about the environmental disaster to this Earth. But this is not the case ! He actually meant that we would create some sort of superhuman (by DNA modification or other technologies) who/which are truly superior to us. But I believe in this case, the author’s guess is not necessarily better than mine and everybody else’s. Hehehe …

    While I had some expectation (after I noticed that the author is homosexual), the author didn’t say too much about this topic. Nevertheless, he has written quite a bit about human cruelty towards animals, especially domesticated animals. After reading what he told us on p.91-97 of the 5th chapter, I now almost feel guilty in eating any chicken or pork or beef. I am wondering whether the author is a passionate animal lover. The last sentence of p.379 says: “Perhaps it is also wrong to consider only the happiness of humans.” Overall, the author didn’t have too many good things to say about the 2nd revolution in this book “The Agricultural Revolution” which he has called “History’s Biggest Fraud”, the title of the 5th chapter.

    This book was said to be published first in Hebrew in 2011 and was later translated to English (~2014) by the author. I guess during the translation, he has added something. On p.375 (6th line), the author said: “it was written in 2014” and on p.409, at the 17th line: “In 2013 the project received a grant” and then at the 20th line: “the world of 2014 is already…”.

    I haven’t noticed any typography etc. The only place that I’ve frowned a little is: “a more easy way”, on the last two lines of p.176. I’d prefer “an easier way”. The editing and proofreading is apparently superb. The quality of paper of this book is probably the best that I have ever remembered for a popular modern book that I’ve read. Though it has made the book considerably heavier, it has allowed colored pictures to be printed throughout the book and it also reflects well on the quality of this book.

    said on 

  • 5

    好書!
     
    果真如作者「哈拉瑞(Harari)」在書前誌謝辭所提到的,閱讀本書,的確讓我的心中重新浮出當年閱讀《槍砲病菌鋼鐵》的愉悅感。本書由生物演化的觀點切入,進入人類歷史的作品,整合了「生物科學」、「人文考古」與「人類歷史」的學門範疇,再加上作者活潑的筆法,讓我在不到兩週之內便嗑掉這部厚達 450 頁的篇幅。
     
    本書是介紹「智人(Homo Sapiens)」的歷史,所以原書名取作《Sapie ...continue

    好書!
     
    果真如作者「哈拉瑞(Harari)」在書前誌謝辭所提到的,閱讀本書,的確讓我的心中重新浮出當年閱讀《槍砲病菌鋼鐵》的愉悅感。本書由生物演化的觀點切入,進入人類歷史的作品,整合了「生物科學」、「人文考古」與「人類歷史」的學門範疇,再加上作者活潑的筆法,讓我在不到兩週之內便嗑掉這部厚達 450 頁的篇幅。
     
    本書是介紹「智人(Homo Sapiens)」的歷史,所以原書名取作《Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind》。按照作者的論述,我們人類走到今天這個地步,不管好壞,是經過了三次重大的革命︰認知革命、農業革命、科學革命。往後,或許還會出現第四次的「生物學革命」也不一定。
     
    關於農業革命和科學革命,過去我已經在不少的作品中讀過。現代相關研究學者的論點,認為「農業革命」之後,人類過得並沒有比較好(勞動力增加、熱量攝取與食物多樣化選擇減少),反倒是增加了不少的生存限制(離不開居住地、受到強大政府組織的剝削)。但它的優點,卻也無法讓已經進入這個階段的社會完全拋棄。同樣地,科學革命(作者將這項革命與經濟上的資本主義、國家組織的帝國主義相連結)也是如此︰既然已經進入了新的生活型態,也不得不再繼續往前走下去。
     
    令我個人感到受益最多的,也是最近幾年我常碰到的主題︰人類(照本書的區分,應該限定為「智人」)為什麼可以超越其它的物種,一舉跳上食物鏈的最頂端,甚至還能加以改變地球的環境呢?過去,我聽過許多的說法,似乎各有道理。但本書所提到的「認知革命」,我覺得更具有說服力,而且還能同時解釋許多智人物種的特殊表現。
     
    所謂的「認知革命」,就是智人的認知能力上,能夠超越其他的物種,藉由語言與神話傳說等等「想像出來的共同體」,構成龐大的物種群體。因此,原本地球上仍有許多同樣屬於「人屬」的物種——尼安德塔人、直立人、弗洛瑞斯人(哈比人)、魯道夫人——在智人的大舉入侵之下,所向披靡,消滅掉了這群親戚人種。
     
    其實這就是我在其它地方所讀到的「神入(Empathy)」能力。智人天生有所謂「鄧巴數/150」的限制,也就是智人在大腦上僅能處理周遭大約一百多個同類的人際互動關係,通常就是以血緣為主的社群。但我們卻可以靠著「想像」,將更大數量的智人社群,給統合在某個刻意建構出來的意識形態中,也就像是鄉里、國族或同宗教信仰的超級社群。在「人多就是正義」的法則下,體能不見得特別卓越的智人,便這樣消滅了與其競爭的其它物種。
     
    因此,在這種「認知」能力之下,我們人類有語言、可以幻想出神話與宗教、能夠欣賞戲劇,甚至於人際關係(比如像賈德.戴蒙提過的「人類女性的隱性排卵」)的複雜互動,都是這項認知天賦的副產品。
     
    本書帶到的資料量龐大,可以討探的主題相當多,值得細細閱讀。
     
    天下文化的科普翻譯,一向有很高的水準。雖然在閱讀過程時,常常會發現文中夾雜一堆以「台灣本土」作為面積大小的範例,我原本是有些不諒解的,總覺得這是譯者自行的創作。但在本書最後的〈譯後記〉當中,譯者交代了他如此作的意圖,並且還與原作者有過多次來回的改寫討論,頓時讓我欣賞譯者的認真態度,在尊重原作者與方便本土讀者兩方取得一定的平衡。

    said on 

  • 4

    《人類大歷史》(2014) 8.5

    智人是沒什麼了不起的動物,在叢林裡要避開其它掠食動物,七萬年後的現代智人在生物學上沒多少差別。為何人類能統治世界,關鍵在想像力。

    認知革命讓人們討論虛構的事物,想像的故事讓陌生人願意信任對方。猩猩社會20隻、狼群社會50隻,再多就會分裂、不相往來。部落創造了共同語言與神話,數百人大規模合作,世界各地開始生物大滅絕.....。

    農業革命是史上最大騙局,耕作讓農民得到最早的職業病,定居生活和人畜糞便成 ...continue

    智人是沒什麼了不起的動物,在叢林裡要避開其它掠食動物,七萬年後的現代智人在生物學上沒多少差別。為何人類能統治世界,關鍵在想像力。

    認知革命讓人們討論虛構的事物,想像的故事讓陌生人願意信任對方。猩猩社會20隻、狼群社會50隻,再多就會分裂、不相往來。部落創造了共同語言與神話,數百人大規模合作,世界各地開始生物大滅絕.....。

    農業革命是史上最大騙局,耕作讓農民得到最早的職業病,定居生活和人畜糞便成為病菌的溫床,部落為了保護土地而戰爭,人類打造了自身的牢籠,家畜成為地球最痛苦的動物。

    全球終將融合統一,金錢:雖然A與B不同信仰,但他們都相信財富,金錢成為全球最普遍的語言。帝國:文化也像一種生物,追求生存和繁衍,併吞其他民族,在人民寄生文化習俗。宗教:古人不懂時間與萬物運行,大型宗教興起,向教徒解釋世界的創世與法則。

    科學革命讓人類承認無知是好事,未知的美洲大陸激發了歐洲人的好奇心,政府與商人為了潛藏的商機與資源,不斷資助學者冒險家進行研究探勘,與科學相伴的資本主義從此誕生。現代智人用科學認識世界,信奉消費主義,形成網路地球村帝國。

    作者將人類歷史分成四大階段,各自用不同領域的角度提出問題,考古常見的謬誤,二階混沌系統讓歷史難以預測、歷史從無正義,用現代科學去做歷史理論的思辯等等.....。最重要的是後記,人類社會恐怕又有下一場革命,隨著現代基因工程發展,人類已經任意改造農作物與家畜,未來富人能克服病痛強化身體,步向神的道路,但窮人卻沒有這個本錢。

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    我最初接觸到這本書(下文簡稱為《Sapiens》)時,心裏想︰「這些大歷史大概只是將人類數萬年的歷史進行系統性取樣,在粗略分析事件始末後便要跳至下一個世紀。與其看這些歷史事件的皮毛,倒不如認真看看專題書藉吧。」但是後來看到網絡上對此書好評如潮,趁墟心態下我最終還是按捺不住翻來看看,只是看完一節後我心裏已經暗叫︰「幸好沒有錯過這本書!」

    作為一本好的大歷史,它除了提供讀者相關的歷史資訊外,更應該讓讀 ...continue

    我最初接觸到這本書(下文簡稱為《Sapiens》)時,心裏想︰「這些大歷史大概只是將人類數萬年的歷史進行系統性取樣,在粗略分析事件始末後便要跳至下一個世紀。與其看這些歷史事件的皮毛,倒不如認真看看專題書藉吧。」但是後來看到網絡上對此書好評如潮,趁墟心態下我最終還是按捺不住翻來看看,只是看完一節後我心裏已經暗叫︰「幸好沒有錯過這本書!」

    作為一本好的大歷史,它除了提供讀者相關的歷史資訊外,更應該讓讀者看到人類發展過程的脈絡及走向,而最重要、亦是最難做到的便是啟發讀者對有關事件作出思考,而這三項要求《Sapiens》統統都做到。作者Yuval Noah Harari在書中除了提到很多被人所誤解的歷史外(如農業真是人類的進步的象徵?智人(homo sapiens)真的是生物樹中獨一無二的人種?),他還指出三個很重要、但也常常被人忽略的概念︰

    一︰人類一旦開創了某項技術、某個文化、某種制度,所形成的浪潮往往是無法逆轉的。其中一個例子便是農業。人類開始農業時,大部份參與農業的人民生活水平其實都下降了(農夫工作時間比狩獵者長、食物種類更單一、食物來源更易受惡劣天氣影響),但自智人轉行農業後,人口漸漸上升,因為只有農業才能支撐更多人口,在更多嘴巴等待喂哺的情況下,農業成為了不二選擇,結果人類便踏上農業這條不歸路。

    另一個明顯的例子便是信貸。信貸的出現假設了人類在未來的收益(無論是金錢、貨物還是服務)將會增加,所以若果甲願意向乙借出資金,反映了甲相信乙將來能獲得更多回報。本來在一個停滯的社會,乙的增加往往便意味著丙(或某人)的減少,亦即整個社會都是一個零和遊戲。但從十六世紀開始,歐洲各國透過帝國主義可以不停擴大領土、人口及資源,所以整個市場不停增長,這亦間接促進了歐洲信貨市場的蓬勃發展。當全球大部份領土都被佔領後,增長的動力便轉由科學來推動──科學提供更多能源、更有效率進行生產、能獲取更多資源,這些增長引來更多的信貸,而為了償還信貸各國只有繼續推動增長,這個循環已經持續數百年了,今天我們不知道還可以持續多久,但明顯地我們的經濟系統完全建基於這種以增長為本位的信貸市場中,一旦我們的經濟無法增長(或放緩),整個信貸市場便會大幅度崩潰,故此這成為人類發展上另一個無法停止的循環。

    二︰我們看歷史時,常常急於用事件一、事件二、… … 事件N來解釋現象一、現象二、… … 、現象N等,畢竟看歷史的其中一個目的或許便是找出因果,但很可惜的是歷史事件間的關係本來就非線性的,很難推斷出「因為這樣… 所以這樣」的結論,而且歷史亦充滿了偶發性,一些看似微不足道的事件極有可能將歷史推向另一個方向發展。想想如果在二戰的諾曼第登陸中,天氣沒有在6月6日變好、如果希特勒沒有犯下重大的戰略錯誤、如果在蘇聯解體前夕,當年握有重兵的保守派堅持使用武力鎮壓改革派,今天的歷史肯定大大不同,故此我們不要太過想當然矣地認為某一事件的出現便是某些特定因素所促成,而該事件更加不是必然出現的後果。

    三︰承上點,作者認為歷史的另一個(可能是更重要的)作用是理解歷史中沒有發生的結局。歷史其實不是一個直線的故事,反而像生物樹般有著不同的分枝,只是故事情節往往因為不同原因而走上其中一條分枝。例如作者提到在數萬年前智人與尼安德塔人曾共同在地球上生存了數萬年,但後來尼安德塔人卻悉數消失,考古學家推論他們極有可能被智人所消滅。如果這推論成立的話這應該是智人有史以來進行的首宗種族屠殺。而作者想借此指出,假若智人與尼安德塔人共存至今天的話,今天的世界或許截然不同︰基督教及回教會否仍然視智人為救贖的對像?國族或種族的競爭會否變成兩種不同生物人種的鬥爭?人權宣言會包括兩種人類兼承認地位平等?

    作者提出這些想像是想指出我們今天所看到的世界並不是必然的,我們在理解歷史的發展時也應該考慮這些沒有發生的結果,因為這些另類結果或許也是一個可行的替代方案、制度。例如歷史上世界各地大多發展出以男性為主導的權力架構,但學者們無法完全從生物角度來解釋該種制度為何會出現、又或它的替代方案(如男女共同掌權、甚至女性主導的社會)為何沒有出現。透過這種反省我們可以想到男尊女卑的制度不是必然事實,這樣的設想有助於我們消除男女、種族、階級等制度上的歧視,以及為建構其他制度提供更多的想像,這或許才是歷史帶給人類的重要意義。

    不得不提的是,本書論述的題材雖然嚴肅,但作者妙筆生花的說故事能力及幽默的文風令整本書變得非常「親民」,例如他解釋gossip theory時指出︰人類語言「過人」之處(嚴格來講應該是「過物」──勝過動物)在於能夠傳達族內不同成員的關係、地位等訊息,這些資訊有助人類互相合作行動,而這理論雖然聽似兒戲,但其實這套理論直到今天仍然有效──因為人們到今天也是透過打聽、傳播流言蜚語來過日子。說到此他便借此嘲笑一下象牙塔裏的教授們︰

    “Do you think that history professors chat about the reasons for the First World War when they meet for lunch, or that nuclear physicists spend their coffee break at scientific conferences talking about quarks? Sometimes, but more often they gossip …."

    書裏又提到一個人的潛能需要在特定的環境下加以栽培,日後才有發揮的可能。這麼顯淺的道理作者竟然「無厘頭」地舉了Harry Potter來作說明︰身在Muggle家時,Harry Potter又豈能發揮他的魔術天份?更重要是︰

    “It takes him seven books to gain a firm command of his powers and knowledge of his unique abilities."

    誰說歷史必然是沈悶的?

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