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
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.
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.