Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah

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

Author Quotes

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.

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.

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?.

The shape and size of the mark varied tremendously throughout history, but the message was always the same: ?I, the Great King So-And-So, give you my personal word that this metal disc contains exactly 0.2 ounces of gold. If anyone dares counterfeit this coin, it means he is fabricating my own signature, which would be a blot on my reputation. I will punish such a crime with the utmost severity.? That?s why counterfeiting money has always been considered a much more serious crime than other acts of deception. Counterfeiting is not just cheating ? it?s a breach of sovereignty, an act of subversion against the power, privileges and person of the king. The legal term is lese-majesty (violating majesty), and was typically punished by torture and death. As long as people trusted the power and integrity of the king, they trusted his coins. Total strangers could easily agree on the worth of a Roman denarius coin, because they trusted the power and integrity of the Roman emperor, whose name and picture adorned it.

The willingness to admit ignorance. Modern science is based on the Latin injunction ignoramus ? ?we do not know?. It

These long millennia may well have witnessed wars and revolutions, ecstatic religious movements, profound philosophical theories, incomparable artistic masterpieces. The foragers may have had their all-conquering Napoleons, who ruled empires half the size of Luxembourg; gifted Beethovens who lacked symphony orchestras but brought people to tears with the sound of their bamboo flutes; and charismatic prophets who revealed the words of a local oak tree rather than those of a universal creator god. But these are all mere guesses. The curtain of silence is so thick that we cannot even be sure such things occurred ? let alone describe them in detail.

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