Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah

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

Author Quotes

Today, the most important humanist sect is liberal humanism, which believes that ?humanity? is a quality of individual humans, and that the liberty of individuals is therefore sacrosanct. According to liberals, the sacred nature of humanity resides within each and every individual Homo sapiens. The inner core of individual humans gives meaning to the world, and is the source for all ethical and political authority. If we encounter an ethical or political dilemma, we should look inside and listen to our inner voice ? the voice of humanity.

Homo sapiens evolved to think of people is divided into ?us? and ?them?? But beginning with the Cognitive Revolution, Homo sapiens? Began to cooperate on a regular basis with complete strangers, whom they imagined as ?brothers? or ?friends?.

Most people don?t appreciate just how peaceful and era we live in. In the year 2000, wars caused the deaths of 310,000 individuals, and violent crime killed another 520,000. Each and every victim is a world destroyed, a family ruined, friends and relatives scarred for life. Yet from a macro perspective these 830,000 victims comprised only 1.5% to 56 million people who died in 2000. That year 1.2 6 million people died in car accidents (2.25% of total mortality) and 815,000 people committed suicide (45%). These figures for 2002 are even more surprising. Out of 57 million dead, only 172,000 people died in war and 569,000 died a violent crime (a total of 741,000 victims of human violence). In contrast 873,000 people committed suicide. It turns out that in the year following the 9/11 attacks, despite all the talk of terrorism and war, the average person was more likely to kill himself and to be killed by a terrorist, a soldier or a drug dealer? The decline of violence is due largely to the rise of the state.

Telling effective stories is not easy. Difficulty lies not in telling the story, but in convincing everyone else to believe. Much of history revolves around this question how does one convince millions of people believe particular stories about gods, ordinations, limited liability companies? White succeeds, it gives sapiens immense power, and enables millions of strangers who operate and work towards common goals.

The last 500 years have witnessed a breathtaking series of revolutions. The earth has been united into a single ecological and historical sphere. The economy has grown exponentially, and humankind today enjoys the kind of wealth that used to be the stuff of fairytales. Science and the Industrial Revolution have given humankind superhuman powers and practically limitless energy. The social order has been completely transformed, as have politics, daily life and human psychology. But are we happier? Did the wealth humankind accumulated over the last five century translate into a new-found contentment?... Historians seldom ask such questions.

Trade cannot exist without trust, and it is very difficult to trust strangers. The global trade network today is based on our trust in such fictional entities as the dollar, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the totemic trademarks of corporations.

Capitalists maintain that only the free market can ensure the greatest happiness of the greatest number, by creating economic growth and material abundance and by teaching people to be self-reliant and enterprising? Some challengers? Argue for a reverse correlation between human Capabilities and happiness. Power corrupts, they say, and as humankind gain more and more power, created a cold mechanistic world ill-suited to our real needs. Evolution molded our minds and bodies to the life of hunter gatherers. The transition first to agriculture and then to industry has condemned us to living unnatural lives cannot give full expression to our inherited donations and instincts, and therefore cannot satisfy our deepest yearnings.

How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism first, you never admit to match. Staining Zaidi objective reality created by the great gods or by the laws of nature? Immutable laws? You also educate people thoroughly. The moment they are born, you constantly remind them imagined order, or printed into anything and everything. They are incorporated into fairytales, dramas, paintings, songs, etiquette, political propaganda, architecture, recipes and fashion? Though the imagined order exists only in our minds, the woven into the material reality around us, and even set in stone most Westerners today believe in individualism they believe that every human is an individual, is worth does not depend on what other people think of him or her. Each of us has been ourselves a brilliant ray of light is value and meaning to our lives.

Most people who produce and consume eggs, milk and meat rarely stop to think about the fate of the chickens, cows or pigs whose flesh and omissions they are eating? They not only feel physical pain, but can also suffer from emotional distress.

The agricultural revolution is one of the most controversial events some partisans proclaim it said humankind on the road to prosperity and progress. Others insist that it led to perdition. This was the turning, they say, were sapiens cast off its intimate symbiosis with nature oriented towards greed and alienation. Whichever direction the road led ? there was no going back. Farming enabled populations increase so radically and rapidly complex agricultural society ever again sustain itself if it returned to hunting and gathering.

The last 500 years have witnessed a phenomenal and unprecedented growth in human power. In the year 1500, there were about 500 million Homo sapiens in the entire world. Today, there are 7 billion. The total value of goods and services produced by humankind in the year 1500 is estimated at $250 billion, in today?s dollars. Nowadays the value of the year of human production is close to 60 trillion. In 1500, humanity consumed about 13,000,000,000,000 cal of energy per day. Today we consume 1500 trillion calories a day. (Take a second look at those figures ? human population has increased 14 fold, production 240 fold, and energy consumption 115 fold.)

Understanding human history in the millennia following the Agricultural Revolution boils down to a single question: how did humans organize themselves in mass cooperation networks, when they lack the biological instincts necessary sustain to such networks? The short answer is that humans created imagined orders and devise scripts. These two inventions fill the gaps left out by our biological inheritance. However, the appearance of these networks was, for many, a dubious blessing. The imagined order sustaining these networks were neither neutral nor fair. They divided people into make-believe groups, arranged in a hierarchy. The upper levels enjoyed privileges in power, while the lower ones suffered from discrimination and oppression.

2000 years of monotheistic brainwashing have caused most Westerners to see polytheism as ignorant and childless idolatry? Polytheism does not necessarily dispute the existence of a single power or law governing the entire universe? The fundamental inside of polytheism, which distinguishes it from monotheism, is that the supreme power governing the world is devoid of interest and biases, and therefore is unconcerned with the Monday desires, cares and worries of humans? Hindus? Realize that from its eternal perspective all Monday and desires and fears are meaningless and ephemeral phenomena? The inside of polytheism is conducive to far-reaching religious tolerance? Polytheism is inherently open-minded and really persecutes ?heretics? and ?infidels?.

70,000 years ago, Homo sapiens was still an insignificant animal minding its own business in the corner of Africa. In the following millennia it transformed itself into the master of the entire planet and the terror of the ecosystem. Today it stands on the verge of becoming a God, poised to acquire not only eternal youth, but also the divine abilities of creation and destruction. Unfortunately, the sapiens regime on earth has so far produced little that we can be proud of. We have mastered our surroundings, increased food production, built cities, establish empires and created far-flung trade networks. But did we decrease the amount of suffering in the world? Time and again, massive increases in human power did not necessarily improve the well-being of individual sapiens, and usually caused immense misery to other animals.

According to the science of biology, people were not ?created?. They have evolved. And they certainly did not evolve to be ?equal?. The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God. However, if we do not believe in the Christian myths about God, creation and souls, what does it mean that all people are ?equal?? Evolution is based on difference, not on a quality. Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences. This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival. ?Created equal? should therefore be translated into ?evolve differently. ? Equally, there are no such things as rights in biology. There are only organs, abilities and characteristics. ? So ?unalienable rights? should be translated into ?immutable characteristics?.

Across America testifies to the incomparable ingenuity unsurpassed adaptability of Homo sapiens. No other animal has ever moved into such a huge variety of radically different habitats quickly, everywhere using virtually the same genes.

Although sapiens and already populated East Africa hundred and 50,000 years ago, he began to overrun the rest of the planet Earth drive other human species to extinction only about 70,000 years? The appearance of new ways of thinking communicating, between 70,000 3000 years ago, constitutes the Cognitive Revolution.

An empire is a political order with two important characteristics. First, to qualify for that designation you have to rule over a significant number of distinct peoples, each possessing a different cultural identity and a separate territory? Second, empires are characterized by flexible borders and a potentially unlimited appetite. They can swallow and digest more and more nations and territories without altering their basic structure or identity? Cultural diversity and territorial flexibility given powers not only their unique character, but also their central role in history.

As the 21st century unfolds, nationalism is fast losing ground. More and more people believe that all of humankind is a legitimate source of political authority, rather than the members of a particular nationality, and that safeguarding human rights protecting the interests of the entire human species should be the guiding light of politics.

Attachment to ?my house? separation from the neighbors became the psychological, much more self-centered creature? Hunter gatherers few deliberate changes to the lands which they roam. Farmers, on the other hand, lived in artificial human islands laboriously are surrounding wilds. He cut down forests, dug canals, cleared fields, built houses, plowed for Rose, and planted trees in tidy rows. The resulting artificial habitat was meant only for humans and their plants and animals, and was often fenced off by walls and hedges? For most of history these man-made enclaves remained a very small, surrounded by expanses of untamed nature. The Earth?s surface measures about 510,000,000 kmý, of which 155 million is land. As late as A.D. 1400, the vast majority of farmers along with their plants and animals, clustered together in an area of just 11,000,000 kmý ? 2% of the planet?s surface.

Biologist hold that are mental and emotional world is governed by biochemical mechanism shape by millions of years of evolution. Like other mental states, our subjective well-being is not determined by an external parameters such as salary, social relations or political rights. Rather, it is determined by a complex system of mirrors, neurons, synapses and various biochemical substances such as serotonin, dopamine and oxycotin.

Capitalism began as a theory about how the economy functions. It was both descriptive and prescriptive ? it offered an account of how money worked and promoted the idea that reinvesting profits in production leads to fast economic growth. But capitalism gradually became far more than just an economic doctrine. It now encompasses an ethic ? a set of teaching about how people should behave, educate their children and even think. Its principal tenet is that economic growth is the supreme good, or at least a proxy for the supreme good, because justice, freedom and even happiness all depend on economic growth.

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, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.

The Sumerian writing system did so by combining two types of signs, which were pressed in clay tablets. One type of signs represented numbers. There were signs for 1, 10, 60, 600, 3,600 and 36,000. (The Sumerians used a combination of base-6 and base-10 numeral systems. Their base-6 system bestowed on us several important legacies, such as the division of the day into twenty-four hours and of the circle into 360 degrees.) The other type of signs represented people, animals, merchandise, territories, dates and so forth. By combining both types of signs the Sumerians were able to preserve far more data than any human brain could remember or any DNA chain could encode.

there is no God, but don?t tell that to my servant, lest he murder me at night?.

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