Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah

Israeli History Professor, Author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Author Quotes

Family and community seem to have more impact than our happiness than money and health. People with strong families who live in tightknit and supportive communities are significantly happier than people whose families are dysfunctional and who have never found (or never sought) a community to be part of. Marriage is particularly important repeated studies have found that there is a very close correlation between good marriages and high subjective well-being, and between bad marriages and misery.

Money has been essential both for building empires and for promoting science. But as money the ultimate goal of these undertakings, or perhaps just the dangerous necessity?

Religion can be defined as a system of human norms and values that is founded on a belief in a superhuman order. This involves two distinct criteria: (1) religions hold that there is a superhuman order, which is not the product of human whims or agreements. Professional football is not a religion, just despite its many laws, rights and often bizarre rituals, everyone knows that human beings invented football themselves, and FIFA may at any time enlarge the size of the goal or cancel the offside rule. (2) based on the superhuman order, religion establishes norms and values that it considers binding. Many Westerners today believe in ghosts, fairies and reincarnation, but these beliefs are not a source of moral and behavioral standards. As such, they do not constitute a religion.

The first texts of history contain no philosophical insights, no poetry, legends, laws, or even Royal triumphs. They are the humdrum economic documents, recording the payment of taxes, the accumulation of debts in the ownership of property? With your appearance of writing, we are beginning to hear history through the ears of its protagonists? They didn?t invent it in order to copy spoken language, but rather to do things that spoken language failed? The most important impact of script on human history is precisely this: it has gradually changed the way humans think and view the world. Free association and holistic thought had given way to compartmentalization and bureaucracy.

There is some evidence that the size of the average sapiens rain has actually decreased since the age of forge. Survival of that era required superb mental abilities for everyone. When agriculture and industry came along who could increasingly rely on the skills of others survival, and new ?niches for imbeciles? were opened? In most places and at most times, forging provide ideal nutrition? Or just for less likely to suffer from starvation or malnutrition, and were genetically taller and healthier than their present descendants? less likely to suffer from infectious diseases.

Gautama?s insight was that no matter what the mind experiences, it usually reacts with craving, and craving always involves dissatisfaction. When the mind experiences something distasteful it craves be rid of the irritation. When the mind experiences something pleasant, it craves that the pleasure will remain and will intensify. Therefore, the mind is always dissatisfied and restless? Gautama found that there was a way to exit this vicious circle. Yet, when the mind experiences something pleasant or unpleasant, it simply understands things as they are, then there is no suffering. If you experience sadness without craving that the sadness goes away, you continue to feel sadness but you do not suffer from it. There can actually be richness in the sadness. If you experience joy without craving that the joy linger and intensify, continue to feel joy without losing your peace of mind? He encapsulated his teachings in a single law: suffering arrives from craving; the only way to be fully liberated from suffering is to be fully liberated from craving; and the only way to be liberated from craving is to train the mind to experience reality as it is. This law, known as dharma or dhamma is seen by Buddhists as a universal law of nature.

Money is based on two universal principles: (a) Universal convertibility: with money as an alchemist, you can turn land into loyalty, justice into health, and violence into knowledge. (b) Universal trust: with money as a go-between, any two people can cooperate on any project.

Romanticism tells us that in order to make most of our human potential we must have as many different experiences as we can. Open ourselves to a wide spectrum of emotions; sample various kinds of relationships; we must try different cuisines; we must learn to appreciate difference thousand music.

The First Wave Extinction, accompanied spread of foragers, was followed by the Second Wave Extinction, accompanied the spread of the farmers, give us an important perspective on the Third Wave Extinction, which industrial activity is causing today. Don?t believe tree huggers who claim that our ancestors lived in harmony with nature. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinctions. We have the dubious distinction of being the deadly species annals of biology.

Three important revolution shape the course of history: the Cognitive Revolution started history about 70,000 years ago, the Agricultural Revolution sped it up about 12,000 years ago. The Scientific Revolution got underway only 500 years ago, may well and history and start something completely different.

Hammurabi in the American founding fathers alike imagined a reality governed by universal and immutable principles of justice, such as a quality or hierarchy. If the only place where such universal principles exist is in the fertile imagination of sapiens, and in the myths they invent and tell one another. These principles have no objective validity.

Mono theist have tended to be far more fanatical and missionary than polytheist. Religion that recognizes the legitimacy of other faiths implies either that it?s God is not the supreme power of the universe, or that it received from God?s part of the universal truth. Since monotheists have usually believe that they are in possession of the entire message of the one and only God, they have been compelled to discredit all other religions. Over the last two millennia, monotheists repeatedly tried to straighten their hand by violently exterminating all competition? Today most people outside East Asia adhere to one monotheistic religion or another, and the global political order is built on Mono theistic foundations.

Scholars once proclaimed that the Agricultural Revolution was greatly forward for humanity? That tale is a fancy. There is no evidence that people became more intelligent time. Borges knew the secrets of nature long before the Agricultural Revolution, survival depended on an intimate knowledge of the animals they hunted in the plants together. Rather than heralding a new age of easy living, the Agricultural Revolution left farmers with lives generally more difficult and less satisfying than those of forgers. Hunter gatherers spent their time stimulating and varied ways, more or less in danger of starvation and disease. The Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food at the disposal of humankind, but the extra food did not translate into better diet or more leisure. Rather translated into population explosions and pampered elites. The average from her work harder than the average forger, got a worse died in return. The Agricultural Revolution was history?s biggest fraud.

The hindsight fallacy. Every point in history is a crossroads. A single traveled road leads from the past to the present, but myriad paths fork off into the future? Constantine, looking back on a fractious century of civil war, sees to have thought that a single religion with a clear doctrine could help unify his ethnically diverse realm. He could?ve chosen any of a number of contemporary cults to be his national faith ?Manichaeism, Mithraism, the cults of Isis or Cybele, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and even Buddhism were all available options. Why did he opt for Jesus?... Historians can speculate, but not provide any definitive answer. They can describe how Christianity took over the Roman Empire, but they cannot explain why the possibility was realized.

To sum up, subjective well-being questionnaires identify our well-being with our subjective feelings, and identify the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of particular emotional states. In contrast, for many traditional philosophies and religions, such as Buddhism, the key to happiness is to know the truth about yourself ? to understand who, or what, you really are. Most people wrongly identify themselves with their feelings, thoughts, likes and dislikes.

Hi theism gave birth not merely to monotheistic religions, but also to dualistic ones. Dualistic religions espouse the existence of two opposing powers: good and evil. Unlike monotheism, dualism believes that evil is an independent power, either created by the good God, subordinate to it. Dualism explains that the entire universe is a battleground between these two forces, and that everything that happens in the world as part of the struggle? What?s undeniable is that monotheists have a hard time dealing with the problem of evil. For duelist, it?s easy to explain evil. Bad things happen even to good people is the world is not governed single-handedly by a good god. There is an independent evil power loose in the world. The evil power does bad things? In fact, monotheism, as it is played out in history, is a kaleidoscope of monotheistic, duelist, polytheist and animist legacies, jumbling together under a single divine umbrella. The average Christian believes in the monotheistic God, but also in the duelist devil, and polytheist saints, and an animist ghosts.

Most human cooperation networks have been geared towards oppression and exploitation? Even prisons and concentration camps cooperation networks, and can function only because thousands of strangers somehow managed to coordinate their actions. All these cooperation networks ? were ?imagined orders?. The social norms that sustain them were based neither on in grained instincts nor on personal acquaintances, but rather on belief in shared myths.

Science, industry and military technology intertwine only with the advent of the capitalist system and the Industrial Revolution. Once this relationship was established, however, it quickly transformed the world.

The imagined order is inter- subjective. Even if by some superhuman effort I succeeded freeing my personal desires the grip of the imagined order, I am just one person. In order to change the imagined order must convince millions of strangers to cooperate? And I objective phenomenon exist independently of human consciousness and beliefs? The subject into something that exist depending on the consciousness and beliefs of a single individual? The inter-subjective is something that exist within the communication network linking subjective consciousness of many individual. The single individual changes his or her beliefs, or even dies, it is of little importance. However, most individuals in the network dire change their beliefs, the inter-subjective phenomenon you take disappear? There is no way out of the imagined order. The breakdown our prison walls run towards freedom, we are in fact running into the more spacious exercise yard of a bigger prison.

Today religion is often considered the source of discrimination, disagreement and disunion. Yet, in fact, religion has been the third great unifier of humankind, alongside money and empires. Since all social orders and hierarchies are imagine, they are all fragile, the larger the society more fragile it is.

Hierarchies server and important function. They enable complete strangers to know how to treat one another without wasting the time and energy needed to become personally acquainted? All societies are based on imagined hierarchies, but not necessarily on the same hierarchies.

Most of the laws, norms, rights and obligations that define manhood and womanhood reflect human imagination more than biological reality? So-called ?masculine? and ?feminine? qualities are inter-subjective than undergo constant changes? Most masculine and feminine qualities are cultural rather than biological.

Some religions, such as Christianity and not theism, have killed millions out of burning hatred. Capitalism has killed millions out of cold indifference coupled with greed.

The Industrial Revolution brought about dozens of major upheavals in human society. Adapting to industrial time just one of them. Other notable examples include urbanization, the disappearance of the peasantry, the rise of the industrial proletariat, the empowerment of the common person, democratization, youth culture and the disintegration of patriarchy. Yet all of these upheavals are dwarfed by the most momentous social revolution than ever before humankind: the collapse of the family and the local community and their replacement by the state and the market.

Today, parental authority is in full retreat. Youngsters are increasingly excused from obeying their elders, where his parents or blame for anything that goes wrong in the life of their child.

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Yuval Noah
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Israeli History Professor, Author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind