Israeli History Professor, Author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari
Israeli History Professor, Author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Engineer completely inorganic beings? The Frankenstein myth confronts Homo sapiens with the fact that the last days are fast approaching. Unless some nuclear or ecological catastrophe intervenes, so goes the story, the pace of technological development will soon lead to the replacement of Homo sapiens by completely different beings who possess not only different physiques, but also very different cognitive and emotional worlds. This is something most sapience find extremely disconcerting. We like to believe that in the future people just like us will travel from planet to planet and fast spaceships. We don?t like to contemplate the possibility that in the future, beings with emotions and identities like ours will no longer exist, and our place will be taken by alien lifeforms is abilities dwarf our own? This is why the Gilgamesh project is the flagship of science. It serves to justify everything science does, Dr. Frankenstein piggybacks on the shoulders of Gilgamesh. Since it is impossible to stop Gilgamesh, it is also impossible to stop Dr. Frankenstein.
If people realized that human rights exist only in the imagination, isn?t there a danger that are tidy will collapse? ? And imagined order is always in danger of collapse, depends upon myths, and myths vanish once people stop believing in them. In order to safeguard an imagined order, tenuous in strenuous efforts are impaired? And imagined order cannot be sustained by violence alone. Criers some true believers as well.
Over the millennia, small, simple cultures gradually coalesce into bigger and more complex civilizations, so that the world contains fewer and fewer mega cultures, each of which is bigger and more complex. This is of course a very crude generalization, true only at the macro level. At the micro level, it seems that for every group of cultures that coalesces into a mega culture, there?s a mega culture that breaks up into pieces.
The currency of evolution is neither hunger nor pain, rather copies of DNA helix is. Just as the economic success company is measured only by the number of dollars in its bank account, not by the happiness of its ploys, so the evolutionary success is measured by the number of copies of its DNA. If no more DNA copies remain, BC since extinct, just as a company without money is bankrupt. If a species boast many DNA copies, it is a success and the species lurches. Such a perspective, 1000 copies are always better than 100.This is the essence of the agricultural revolution: the ability to keep more people live under worse conditions.
The revolutions of the last two centuries have been so swift and radical that they have changed the most fundamental characteristics of the social order. Traditionally, the social order was hard and rigid. ?Order? implied stability and continuity. Swift social revolutions were exceptional, and most social transformations resulted from the accumulation of numerous small steps? Over the last two centuries, the pace of change became so quick that the social order acquired a dynamic and malleable nature. It now exists in a state of permanent flux.
With rare exceptions, human brains are simply incapable of thinking through concepts like relativity and quantum mechanics. Physicists nevertheless managed to do so, because they set aside the traditional human way of thinking, and learn to think in new with the help of external data processing systems. Crucial parts of their thought process take place not in the head, but inside computers or on classroom blackboards. Although this system of writing remains a partial script, it has become the world?s dominant language. Almost all states, companies, organizations and institutions ? whether they speak Arabic, Hindi, English or Norwegian ? these mathematical script record and process data? Writing was born as the maidservant of human consciousness, but is increasingly becoming its master? The field of artificial intelligence is seeking to create a new kind of intelligence based solely on the binary script that computers.
Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, there hasn?t been a single natural way of life for sapiens. There were only cultural choices, from among a bewildering palette of possibilities.
Imagined order shapes our desires. Most people do not wish to accept order governing their lies is imaginary, but in fact every person is born into a pre-existing imagine order, and his or her desires are sheep from birth bites dominant myths. Our personal desires thereby become the imagine orders most important defenses.
Over time, states and markets used to their growing powers to weaken the traditional bonds of family and community. The state Senate?s policeman to stop family vendettas and replace them with court decisions. The market sentence hawkers to wipe out long-standing local conditions and replace them with ever-changing commercial fashions. Yet this was not enough. In order to really break the power of family and community, they needed the help of a fifth column. The state in the markets approach people with an offer that could not be refused. ?Become individuals,? they said. Marry whoever you desire, without asking permission from your parents. Take up whatever job suits you, even if community elders frowned. Live wherever you wish, even if you cannot make it every week to the family dinner. You are no longer dependent on your family or your community. We, the state and the market, will take care of you instead. We will provide food, shelter, education, health, welfare and employment. We?ll find pensions, insurance and protection.?? But the liberation of the individual comes at a cost. Many of us bewail the loss of strong families and communities and feel alienated and threatened by the power of the impersonal state and market wheeled over our lives.
The Discovery of Ignorance.
The scent of money? How much is it? Hunter gatherers had no money? A piece of meat given for free would carry with it the assumption of reciprocity ? say, free medical assistance? An economy of favors and obligations doesn?t work when large numbers of strangers try to cooperate?. Money was created many times in many places. It?s development required no technological breakthroughs ? purely mental revolution. It involves the creation of a new intersubjective reality that exists solely in peoples shared imagination. Money is not coins and banknotes. Money is anything that people are willing to use in order to represent systematically the value of other things for the purpose of exchanging goods and services? Because money can convert, store and transport wealth easily and cheaply, it made a vital contribution to the appearance of complex commercial networks and dynamic markets? Money is accordingly a system of mutual trust, and not just any system of mutual trust: money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised? Money is also the apogee of human tolerance. Money is more open-minded than language, state laws, cultural codes, religious beliefs and social habits. Money is the only trust system created by humans that can bridge almost any gap, and does not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, race, age or sexual orientation. Thanks to money, even people who don?t know each other and don?t trust each other can nevertheless cooperate effectively.
With the individual wielding unprecedented power to decide own path in life, we find it ever harder to make commitments. We does live in an increasingly lonely world of unraveling communities and families. But the most important finding of all is that happiness does not really depend on objective conditions of either wealth, health or even community. Rather, it depends on the correlation between objective conditions and subjective expectations? If happiness is determined by expectations, and two pillars of our society ? mass media and the advertising industry ? may unwittingly be depleting the globes reserves of contentment.
Every culture has its typical beliefs, norms, and values, but these are in constant flux? Discord in our thoughts, ideas and values compel us to think, reevaluate and criticize. Consistency is the playground of dull minds. If tensions, conflicts and irresolvable dilemmas are the spice of every culture, a human being who belongs to any particular culture must hold contradictory beliefs and be ridden by incompatible values. It?s such an essential feature of any culture that even has a name: cognitive dissonance.
In our time, imperialist ranks second only to fascist in the lexicon of political swearwords. The contemporary critique of empires calmly takes two forms: (1) Empires do not work. In the long run, it is not possible to effectively over a large number of conquered peoples. (2) Even if it can be done, it should not be done, because empires are evil engines of destruction and exploitation. Every people has a right to self-determination, and should never be subject to the rule of another. From a historical perspective, the first statement is plain nonsense, and the second is deeply problematic. The truth is that empire has been the world?s most common form of political organization for the last 2500 years. Most humans during these 2 « millennia have lived in empires. Empires also very stable form of government? Empires have played a decisive part in amalgamating many small cultures into fewer big cultures. Ideas, people, goods and technology spread more easily within the borders of an empire than in a politically fragmented region. Often enough, it was the empires themselves which deliberately spread ideas, institutions, customs and norms? The benefits for sometime salient ? law enforcement, urban planning, standardization of weights and measures ? and sometimes questionable ? taxes, conscription, Emperor worship.
Perceiving the direction of history is really a question of vantage point? The best way to appreciate the general direction of history is to count the number of separate human worlds that coexisted at any given moment on planet Earth.
The findings demonstrate that happiness is not the surplus of pleasant or unpleasant moments. Rather, happiness consist in seeing one?s life in its entirety as meaningful and worthwhile. There is an important cognitive and ethical component to happiness. Our values make all the difference? As Nietzsche put it, if you have a wide to live, can bear almost anyhow. A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying even in the midst of hardship, where is a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal no matter how comfortable it is.
The typical American nowadays is simultaneously a nationalist (she believes in the existence of an American nation the special role to play in history), a free-market capitalist (she believes that open competition and the pursuit of self-interest are the best ways to create a prosperous society), and a liberal humorist (she believes that humans have been endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights).
Every event in human history occurred against the background of some climate change. In particular, our planet has experienced numerous cycles during the last years, it?s been an Ice Age on average every 1000 years last one ran about 75,000 thousand years ago.
Liberal humanism: humanity?s individualistic and resides within each individual Homo sapiens. The supreme commandment is to protect the inner core and freedom of each individual Homo sapiens. Socialist humanism: humanity?s collective and resides within the species Homo sapiens as a whole. The supreme commandment is to protect quality within the species Homo sapiens. Evolutionary humanism: humanity is a mutable species. Humans might degenerate into subhumans or evolve into superhumans. The supreme can payment is to protect humankind from degenerating into subhumans, and to encourage its evolution into superhumans.
Protestants believe that the divine love is so great that God was incarnated in flesh and allowed himself to be tortured and crucified, thereby redeeming the original sin and opening the gates of heaven to all of those who professed faith in Him. Catholics maintained that faith, while essential was not enough. To enter heaven, believers had to participate in church rituals and do good deeds. Protestants refused to accept this, arguing that this quid pro quo belittles God?s greatness and love. Whoever thinks that entry to heaven depends upon his or her own good deeds magnifies his own importance, and implies that Christ?s suffering on the cross God?s love for humankind are not enough.
The first millennium BC witness the appearance of three potential universal orders, whose devote 10 days good for the first time imagine the entire world and the entire human race as a single unit governed by a single set of laws. Everyone was ?us?, at least potentially. There was no longer ?them?. The first universal order to appear was economic: the monetary order. The second universal order was political: the Imperial order. The third universal order was religious: the order of universal religions such as Buddhism, or she Hannity and Islam.
The worship of man. The last 300 years are often depicted as an age of growing secular-ism, in which religions have increasingly lost her importance. If we are talking about theist religions, this is largely correct. What we take into consideration natural-law a religions, then modernity turns out to be an age of intense religious fervor, unparalleled missionary efforts, and the bloodiest wars of religion in history. The modern age has witnessed the rise of a number of new natural?law religions, such as liberalism, communism, capitalism, nationalism and Nazism. These creeds do not like to be called religions, and refer to themselves as ideologies. But this is just a semantic exercise. If a religion is a system of human norms and values that is founded on belief in a superhuman order, and Soviet communism was no less religion than Islam.
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.