Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah

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

Author Quotes

Conscious effort has to be made to sustain laws, customs, procedures and manners, otherwise a social order quickly collapse.

Human communities and families have always been based on belief in ?priceless? things, such as honor, loyalty, morality and love... Money has always tried to break through these barriers, like water seeping through cracks in a dam? Money has an even darker side. For although money builds universal trust between strangers, this trust is invested not in humans, entities or sacred values, but in money itself and in the impersonal systems that back. Do not trust the stranger, or the next-door neighbor ? we trust the coin may hold.

Most scholars agree that animistic beliefs were common ancient fortress. Animism (from animus, soul spirit in Latin) is the belief that almost every place, every animal, every plant and every natural phenomenon awareness and feelings and can communicate directly with humans? Animism believe there is no barrier between humans and other beings. All communicate directly through speech, song, dance and ceremony? Don?t know which spirits they pray to, which festivals celebrated, which taboos they observed. Most importantly, we don?t know what stories they told. It?s one of the biggest holes in our understanding of human history.

The American founding document promises that if humans act according to its sacred principles, millions of them would be able to cooperate effectively, living safely and peacefully in a just and prosperous society. The American Declaration of Independence was not just a document of its time ? it was accepted by future generations as well.

The laws of nature? Jainism in Buddhism in India, Taoism and Confucianism in China, and stoicism, cynicism and Epicureanism and the Mediterranean basin, were characterized by their disregard of gods. These creeds maintained that the superhuman order governing the world is the product of natural laws rather than of divine wills and wins.

We are living in a technical age. Many are convinced that science and technology hold the answers to all our problems. She just let the scientists and technicians go on with their work, and they will create heaven here on earth. But science is not an enterprise that takes place on some superior moral and spiritual plane above the rest of human activity. Like all other parts of our culture, it is shaped by economic, political and religious interests.

Despite its proclamation of the equality of all men, the imagine order established by the Americans in 1776 also established a hierarchy. It created a hierarchy between men, who benefited from it, and women, whom it left disempowered. It created a hierarchy between whites, who enjoyed liberty, and blacks and American Indians, and who were considered humans of a lesser type and therefore did not share the equal rights of men? All distinctions between free persons and slaves, between whites and blacks, which in rich and poor ? are rooted in fictions.

Human history shows that there is often an inverse relationship between physical prowess and social power. In most societies, it?s the lower classes who do the manual labor.

Of all mankind?s ostensibly insoluble problems, one has remained the most vexing, interesting and important: the problem of death itself. Before the late modern era, most religions and ideologies took it for granted that death was our inevitable fate. Moreover, most states turn death into the main source of meaning in life? Disciples of progress do not share this defeatist attitude. For men of science, death is not an inevitable destiny, but merely a technical problem? Our best minds are not wasting their time trying to give meaning to death. Instead, they?re busy investigating the physiological, hormonal and genetic systems responsible for disease in old age. They are developing new medicines, revolutionary treatments and artificial organs that will lengthen our lives and might one day vanquish the Grim Reaper himself.

The brief golden age of the last half-century may turn out to have sown the seeds of future catastrophe. Over the last few decades, we have been disturbing the ecological equilibrium of our planet. New ways, with what seems likely to be dire consequences. A lot of evidence indicates that we are destroying the foundations of human prosperity in an orgy of reckless consumption.

The only God that the Romans long refused to tolerate is the monotheistic and evangelizing God of the Christians. The Roman Empire did not require the Christians to give up their beliefs and rituals, but it did expect them to pay respect to the empires protector gods into the divinity of the Emperor. This was seen as a declaration of political loyalty. When the Christians vehemently refused to do so, and went on to reject all attempts at compromise, the Romans reacted by treating what they understood to be a politically subversive faction. And even this was done halfheartedly. In the 300 years from the cruise vacation of Christ to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, polytheistic Roman emperors initiated no more than four general persecutions of Christians? Romans killed no more than a few thousand Christians in contrast, over the course of the next 1500 years, Christians slaughtered Christians by the millions to defend slightly different interpretations of the religion of love and compassion. The religious wars between Catholics and Protestants that swept Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries are particularly notorious.

Were it not for businessmen seeking to make money, Columbus would not have reached America, James Cook would not have reached Australia, and Neil Armstrong would not have taken that small step us of the moon.

Domesticated chickens and cattle may well be an evolutionary success story, they are also among the most miserable creatures that ever lived. The domestication of animals, was found in on a series of brutal practices only became cruel passing of the centuries? Egg laying hens, dairy cows and draft animals are sometimes allowed to live for many years. The price is subjugation to a way of life completely alien?s and desires? In modern cat in an industrial meat form easily after birth the Separated from its mother locked inside a tiny cage body. There the Spends its entire life ? about four months on average. Never leaves the cage, allowed to play with other cats even walk ? all so that its muscles will not grow strong. Soft muscles in a soft juicy steak. First on the Has a chance to walk, stretches muscles and such other cats only to the slaughterhouse. In evolutionary terms, cattle represent the most successful animal species ever to exist. The same time, they are some of the most miserable animals on the planet.

Humanism is a belief that Homo sapiens has unique and sacred nature, which is fundamentally different from the nature of all other animals and of all other phenomena? The rest of the world and all other beings exist solely for the benefit of this species.

On 24 August 1572? St. Bartholomew?s Day massacre, between 5000 and 10,000 Protestants were slaughtered in less than 24 hours? More Christians were killed by fellow Christians in those 24 hours than by the polytheistic Roman Empire throughout its entire existence.

The code of Hammurabi of 1776 BC? Asserts that Babylonian social order is rooted in universal and eternal principles of justice, dictated by the gods. The principle of hierarchy is of paramount importance. According to the code, people are divided into two genders and three classes: superior people, commoners and slaves. Members of each gender and class have different values. The life of a female commoner is worth 30 silver shekels and that of a slave woman 20 silver shekels, rose the eye of a male commoner is worth 60 silver shekels. The code also establishes a strict hierarchy within families, according to which children are not independent persons, or rather the property of their parents.

The only thing we can try to do is influence the direction scientists are taking. But since we might soon be able to engineer our desires to, the real question facing us is not ?what do we want to become?? but ?what do we want to want?? Those who are not spooked by this question probably haven?t given it enough thought.

Western culture, as it has evolved in Europe, is characterized by democratic values, tolerance and gender equality, whereas Muslim culture, should evolve in the Middle East, is characterized by hierarchical politics, fanaticism and misogyny. Since the two cultures are so different, and since many Muslim immigrants are unwilling (and perhaps unable) to adopt Western values, they should not be allowed to enter, less faithful meant internal conflicts and corrode European democracy and liberalism.

Ecological degradation is not the same as resource scarcity? Many call this process ?the destruction of nature?. But it?s not really destruction, it?s change. Nature cannot be destroyed.

Humans have sought to understand the universe at least since the Cognitive Revolution. Our ancestors put a great deal of time and effort into trying to discover the rules that govern the natural world. Modern science differs all previous traditions of knowledge in three critical ways: (a) the willingness to admit ignorance. (b) the centrality of observation and mathematics. (c) the acquisition of new powers? The Scientific Revolution has not been a revolution of knowledge, it has been above all a revolution of ignorance. The great discovery that launched the Scientific Revolution was the discovery that humans do not know the answers to their most important questions? The willingness to admit ignorance has made modern science more dynamic, supple and inquisitive than any previous tradition of knowledge.

Our medieval ancestors were happy because they found meaning to life in collective delusions about the afterlife? Yes. As long as nobody punctured their fantasies, why shouldn?t they? As far as we can tell, for purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan? Hence any meaning that people ascribe to their lives is just a delusion? So perhaps happiness synchronizing one?s personal delusions of meaning with the prevailing collective delusions? This is quite a depressing conclusion. This happiness really depend on self-delusion?

The Colts of the free market. Capital and politics influence each other to such an extent that their relations are both debated by economists, politicians and the general public alike. Ardent capitalist tend to argue capital should be free to influence politics, politics should not be allowed to influence capital. They argued that when governments interfere in the markets, political interests cause them to make unwise investments that result in slower growth? But in its extreme form, belief in the free market is as na‹ve as belief in Santa Claus. There simply is no such thing as a market free of all political bias.

The pursuit of an easier life resulted in much hardship, and not for the last time. It happens to us today. How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, bowing that they will work hard earned money that will enable them to retire their real interest when they are 35? By the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, in a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. Were they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, the double their efforts to keep slaving away? Story of the luxury track carries with it an important lesson. Humanity search for an easier life released immense forces of change to transform the world in ways nobody envisioned or wanted. Such domesticated animals ? sheep, chickens, donkeys, and others ? supplied food and Karen meat, milk, eggs), raw materials (skins, wool) and muscle power. Transportation, plowing grinding and other test, hitherto performed by human sinew. Were increasingly carried out by animals. Most farming societies people focused on plant cultivation raising animals as a secondary activity. New kind of society also appeared in some places, based primarily on the exploitation of animals: tribes pastoralist herders.

When evaluating global happiness, it is wrong to count the happiness only of the upper classes, of Europeans or of men. Perhaps it is also wrong to consider only the happiness of humans.

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.

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