Being laid to rest in Westminster Abbey is perhaps the greatest posthumous honor that can be given to any Briton, and when Stephen Hawking’s ashes were interred there Friday, they were placed between the remains of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, two of the giants of science.
But rare though it may be, entry to what is sometimes called “Britain’s Valhalla” does not involve a complicated process, according to the Very Rev. John R. Hall, the dean of Westminster.
An engaging, humorous and commanding figure, Hall relishes the history surrounding his unique position, and sees Hawking’s ceremony in the context of the thousands that have come before in a place of worship that was founded more than a thousand years ago.
“We buried Isaac Newton here eight days after he died,” said Hall, speaking in his office next to the ancient abbey. “We also took an immediate decision in 1882 about Charles Darwin.”
Hawking qualifies not just because of his contributions to science but also by virtue of the inspirational life he lived in the face of huge obstacles. The religious views of a man sometimes described as the world’s most famous atheist were not disqualifying, Hall said.
“Whether he was actually an atheist, whether he was actually an agnostic, what his position was, is not, to my mind, entirely clear,” Hall said. “My position is quite simply this: Whether a person believes in God or not, if someone is achieving extraordinary things then I believe God is in that process.”
More than 3,300 Britons are buried or commemorated in the abbey, and a walk through its Gothic splendor, under pointed arches, ribbed vaulting and flying buttresses, provides a remarkable, if eclectic, tour of a millennium of history, culture and scientific progress.
Many of those laid to rest here are long forgotten, but there are splendid memorials, including one to Queen Elizabeth I, who is among 17 monarchs lying alongside some of the nation’s greatest poets, scientists and musicians.
King George II, who died in 1760, was the last monarch to be buried at Westminster (the royal family now favors Windsor). With space at a premium, the abbey stopped conducting burials in the early part of the last century, though this was not a completely smooth process.
The last burial, in 1920, was that of the Unknown Warrior, a memorial to those who died in World War I. This slab of black Belgian marble, covering the remains of a soldier and soil from France, is the only stone that visitors are not permitted to walk upon.
這篇文章談論英國物理學家霍金下葬西敏寺一事，有一些宗教相關字詞。西敏寺正式名稱為The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster（西敏聖彼得協同教堂），Westminster Abbey是通稱。位於威爾斯的Tintern Abbey也有近900年的歷史，曾被英國浪漫主義詩壇祭酒華滋華斯（William Wordsworth）入題，因而名聞遐邇。Abbey的主事者男性為abbot，女性是abbess。
管理西敏寺的最高聖職職位稱為dean（座堂主任牧師），其頭銜是第二段的the Very Reverend。此外，dean這個字也常見於稱呼大學學院的院長。
In “The Strange Order of Things” Antonio Damasio promises to explore “one interest and one idea … why and how we emote, feel, use feelings to construct our selves; how feelings assist or undermine our best intentions; why and how our brains interact with the body to support such functions.”
Damasio thinks that the cognitive revolution of the last 40 years, which has yielded cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience and artificial intelligence, has been, in fact, too cognitive, too rationalist, and not concerned enough with the role that affect plays in the natural history of mind and culture. Standard stories of the evolution of human culture are framed in terms of rational problem solving, creative intelligence, invention, foresight and linguistically mediated planning — the inventions of fire, shelters from the storms, agriculture, the domestication of animals, transportation systems, systems of political organization, weapons, books, libraries, medicine and computers.
Damasio rightly insists that a system with reason, intelligence and language does nothing unless it cares about something, unless things matter to it or, in the case of the emerging world of AI, things matter to its makers. Feelings motivate reason and intelligence, then “stay on to check the results, and help negotiate the necessary adjustments.”
To bring the central role of feelings to the fore, Damasio undertakes nothing less than a reconstruction of the natural history of the universe — “the strange order” of his title. For the first 9 billion years after the Big Bang there was no Earth. Once Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago, everything that happened on it could be explained in the language of physics and inorganic chemistry. Then 3.8 billion years ago simple unicellular life emerged by way of processes still not entirely well understood, involving nitrogen, ammonia, methane, electricity and water. The first life unconsciously “sensed” or “registered” states of affairs — dangers, the integrity of its boundaries, temperature and light sources — and made adjustments to sustain itself. Once there is life, we need concepts of organic chemistry and biology like metabolism and homeostasis to explain it all.
These unicellular organisms evolved into multicellular organisms and eventually gained nervous systems. Then, 600 million years ago, organisms that experience things, creatures with feelings, appeared.