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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

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100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, tim 100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power ... and our future.

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100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, tim 100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power ... and our future.

30 review for Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book bound to appear on a large number of coffee tables and favorite lists, and be picked up even by those who normally would not find the time for reading. It will certainly not be the next A Brief History of Time, which is often named as the world's top unfinished popular bestseller. Both A Brief History of Time and Sapiens share a similar, worthy goal - to explain complex issues in a way which can actually be understood and comprehended by most people Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book bound to appear on a large number of coffee tables and favorite lists, and be picked up even by those who normally would not find the time for reading. It will certainly not be the next A Brief History of Time, which is often named as the world's top unfinished popular bestseller. Both A Brief History of Time and Sapiens share a similar, worthy goal - to explain complex issues in a way which can actually be understood and comprehended by most people. Just as A Brief History... aimed at explaining cosmology to a lay audience, Sapiens aims to provide a readable and concise historical summary of the progress of human evolution - all in under 500 pages. Is this possible? Of course not - histories of individual countries often take up several volumes, and histories of entire civilizations and ultimately an entire specie would take up hundreds if not thousands of volumes. Because Harari's book is limited to just a single volume (and a relatively short one at that), he has to severely limit his scope to what he considers to be the biggest life-changing developments of our species, which essentially reduces it to a collection of trivia about these events. But that's not the true flaw of the book. Sapiens begins strong enough with a very interesting presentation of early human history and development of early human species, which culminated in the rise and eventual dominance of our own - the Homo Sapiens. However, the rest of the book consists largely of author's own musings and thoughts about the human condition and character - while some of these thoughts I find interesting and agreeable (such as our collective belief in the value of money), one thesis he that he put forward struck me as truly bizarre. Basically, Harari considers the agricultural revolution to be "history's biggest fraud", which instead of improvement left humans who settled down to farm worse off and more miserable than their nomadic, foraging ancestors. To prove his point, Harari waxes poetics about hunter-gatherers and their daily existence: they lived in egalitarian communes where property and love was freely shared, and were much more adept at survival in the wilderness than their descendants who plowed the fields. Hunter-gatherers had to have a much larger knowledge of their surroundings, and possessed vastly superior mental reflexes and physical dexterity which put future generations to shame. Although we have since gained vast knowledge as a collective, Harari argues that on the individual level ancient foragers were "the most knowledgeable and skillful people in history". For Harari, our foraging ancestors were not only mental and physical supermen, but also enjoyed a much more comfortable and rewarding lifestyle than all the subsequent peasants, workers and office clerks. They worked fewer hours and since they had no homes, they also had no household chores; this allowed for plenty of free time to play with one another, tell stories and just hang out. Since foraging necessitated exploration, it also provided plenty of adventure: what better thing to do than explore new places to look for cool plants and other edible things? Because they were always on the move and therefore not dependent on a single source of food, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a superior, multi-nutrient diet and were less likely to suffer from hunger and starvation than subsequent agricultural societies, which often depended on a single crop, and not only were receiving much less nutrients but also suffered heavily from famines when their food source failed. Farming? Bah! Humbug. True, there were some drawbacks, Harari reluctantly agrees. Although some lucky souls made it longer, life expectancy averaged only 30 to 40 years. Children dropped dead like flies, and sometimes wild tigers came out of the bushes and ate you and your whole family and tribe. Not to mention that sometimes you and your band wandered and wandered, and the food simply wasn't there. Or even worse - the food was there, but so was another tribe which was not exactly keen on sharing their already limited supply. What about this? "It would be a mistake to idealize the lives of these ancients", says the author, though I do not really understand why, since this is exactly what he appeared to be doing, "though they lived better lives than most people in agricultural and industrial societies, their world could still be harsh and unforgiving." Ain't that the truth. Sometimes, life is just hard. Rocks fall, everyone dies. But agricultural revolution? It sucked, Harari argues. First, he has unnamed (and presumably fictitious) scholars proclaim the development of agriculture as "a great leap forward for humanity", which "produced ever more intelligent people(...)able to decipher nature’s secrets". But this is not true - "there is no evidence that people became more intelligent with time", he says, as "foragers knew the secrets of nature long before the Agricultural Revolution, since their survival depended on an intimate knowledge of the animals they hunted and the plants they gathered". As I mentioned above, Harari states that agricultural revolution made things worse for farmers - it robbed them from excitement of hunting and gathering by forcing them to settle down next to their fields and perform menial farm work, which strained our joints and spine. Although farming provided a surplus of food it did not provide the farmer with a better diet, robbing us of the diversity of meals experienced by a hunter-gatherer. Farming also failed to provide us with economic security - crops can always fail and lead to hunger, whereas hunter-gatherers can always move on and hunt for other types of food (unless, of course, they do not find any and starve to death). Farmers also had to stay and defend their land if attacked by a hostile group, whereas foragers could always escape to another area, look for food there, and survive (they could, of course, end up not being able to escape -who can fight or run on an empty stomach? - or...not find any food, and starve to death). So, what exactly has agriculture ever done for us? Since it has taken so much not only from our fathers but also from from our fathers' fathers, what has it ever given us in return? The aqueduct? Sanitation? Wine? And why have humans not returned to hunting and gathering but stubbornly toiled their fields and broke their miserable backs, while they could be climbing trees and camping in the wilderness? The answer is simple: more food allowed women to have children more often, and even though they still died fairly often this time births outpaced deaths several times. Village population increased, and soon entire generations of people no longer remembered the good old days of running in the forests and looking for berries. "The trap", Harari writes, "was shut". He goes on to say: "Since our affluence and security are built on foundations laid by the Agricultural Revolution, we assume that the Agricultural Revolution was a wonderful improvement".Yet, we are wrong in thinking this, because "it is wrong to judge thousands of years of history from the perspective of today" (though apparently not when it comes to foraging, which was a blast by all accounts - that is, the author's). Harari neglects to mention the exact reason why the agricultural revolution took place - farming first arose in places where hunting and gathering was no longer possible, and in the long run prevailed as the better option. Hunter-gatherers simply did not choose to one day walk out of the woods and start domesticating animals and plants; they were forced to do that because the environment they were living no longer allowed for foraging to remain a viable option. The Younger Dryas interval in ancient Levant is often linked to the adoption of agriculture in the region, as an example of the first deliberate cultivation of plants. People understood that seeds developed into plants at the time when they desperately needed to increase their food supply in order to survive, and linked one with the other. It is interesting that Harari does not only romanticize hunting and gathering, but actually looks at the agricultural revolution and its impact from a perspective of a hunter and gatherer - that is, focusing on the thing that mattered most to our foraging ancient ancestors: food. Hunter-gatherers spend their lives pursuing food; as Harari admits, because of their nomadic lifestyle they had very few possessions, as they were constantly moving around in search for food to sustain them. Food was their driving force; their lives centered around food, as they never had a steady supply of it and always had to hunt and look for more if they were to survive. In contrast, agricultural revolution provided humans with a steady and regular supply of food, and or the first time in our history allowed humans to take our minds off food and constant travel. The impact of this is monumental and cannot be stressed enough. Basically, without agricultural revolution, our knowledge would be stagnant - as we would simply not have the luxury of time to develop it. Food surplus and settling down allowed humans to think more and develop new ideas and technologies, allowing for more efficient farming - which in turn allowed for more time to think and develop even more ideas and technologies. In contrast to general knowledge of our forager ancestors, surplus of food and settler lifestyle allowed for skill specialization, which in turn allowed us to do things beyond their wildest dreams, and become technologically advanced. Basically, I would argue that societies comprised of hunter-gatherers cannot advance and live up to the full human potential - it is impossible to have a truly technologically advanced nomadic society, while it is possible to have a technologically advanced settler society which is able to send some of its members into the world as hunter-gatherers. To put it very simply: hunter-gatherers live in the wilderness, living day to day on what they find or hunt down, while agriculturists discover penicillin, split the atom and fly into space. Although the author later brings up valid concerns about our treatment of animals and abuse of collective power, his rant against agriculture is truly bizarre considering that without it he would not be able to write this very book. It's as if he disregarded the very Sapiens which he aimed to describe, and which has defied his thesis by abandoning hunting and gathering to settle down and farm. Still, there are good parts and certain valuable and interesting insights in this book - it's just a shame that it's tainted with such a weird and contrived chapter.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liad Magen

    This book had changed my life, the way I think, the way I precept the world. I think it should be an obligatory book for everyone on this planet.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Moran

    I believe I am relatively familiar with history in general, and I'm usually not very excited about reading more about it. But this book was something else. Beautifully written and easy to read, this book just made me want to know more and more about how the author thinks the world evolved to what it is today. Revolution by revolution, religion by religion, conception by conception, things were simplified and yet still maintained valid points - and it was never boring. The best thing about it was I believe I am relatively familiar with history in general, and I'm usually not very excited about reading more about it. But this book was something else. Beautifully written and easy to read, this book just made me want to know more and more about how the author thinks the world evolved to what it is today. Revolution by revolution, religion by religion, conception by conception, things were simplified and yet still maintained valid points - and it was never boring. The best thing about it was that it actually made me think. The author doesn't treat you as ignorant at all - he doesn't assume you know nothing but assume you know a lot and understand a lot, and doesn't lecture about anything, and that attitude makes the book a pleasure to read. Just read it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    William2

    This book is a superficial gloss on human history. Nice try but it excludes too much data in favor of an overarching conceptual view to be deeply interesting. Stopped reading for reasons detailed below at p. 304 of 416. Considering the outlandishness of some of its claims—the downside of the Agricultural Revolution, the joys of Empire—the book seems weirdly under-sourced. The bibliography is beyond meagre. Don't get me wrong, I like a little informed speculation as much as anyone. Take for exampl This book is a superficial gloss on human history. Nice try but it excludes too much data in favor of an overarching conceptual view to be deeply interesting. Stopped reading for reasons detailed below at p. 304 of 416. Considering the outlandishness of some of its claims—the downside of the Agricultural Revolution, the joys of Empire—the book seems weirdly under-sourced. The bibliography is beyond meagre. Don't get me wrong, I like a little informed speculation as much as anyone. Take for example the claim that houses, their advent, "became the psychological hallmark of a much more self-centered creature." (p. 99) I, for one, would be delighted to know how one can discern the psychology of someone who lived more than 9,000 years ago. The apparently relevant note cited is "2 Robert B. Marks, The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative". But when one looks up Mr. Marks' book one sees that it pertains only to the 15th to the 21st centuries CE. Another thing, the book seems all biological determinism—and we know what that sort of thinking led to: the Konzentrationslager. The life of the mind is nothing here, the intellect nothing, all because it has no discernible basis in biology—so reductive and materialist, too. I'm hoping this is just a rhetorical device. Please, let it be. Moreover, the author cherishes a certain sneering and glib tone which I find annoying. Well, yes, now he's changing his tune, isn't he? But not before thoroughly pissing me off. Was that necessary? Ah, now he's starting to celebrate the very social constructs—the law, the state, joint stock corporations, etc.—that he so glibly belittled as "imaginary myths" a few pages back. So his earlier arguments were disingenuous. That's not something I prize in a writer. Notwithstanding the questionable attempt to raise the reader's hackles, just mentioned, I find myself on p. 170 and 95% of this is material I already know. Granted, the author tries to package it as felicitously as possible, but it's still stuff I know and, no doubt, material my well read GR friends will also know. What I had hoped for on cracking this formidable spine was something far more intellectually challenging, like Naipaul. Still, I find myself nursing a hope that this is just an overly long introduction to a thrilling thesis. At the same time I fear it will turn out to be another tedious read for a far less learned general reader than myself. Am I overqualified for this book? Trepidation abounds. 2.0 stars so far, inauspicious. Meh. It's really an undergraduate survey course, if that. It's a great review of common knowledge that seeks to find new linkages and epiphanies. It sometimes works. But often the linkages are specious. As when he terms liberal humanism a religion. It isn't, though it's a neat shorthand for his minimalist theories. Now I'm reading about how religions are unifiers. The author certainly has a flair for the obvious, I'll say that much. Here's an example of author Harari's reductiveness, which is inevitable in a book skirting so many vast subjects. On p. 232 we read: "The Aryan race therefore had the potential to turn man into superman." Nietzsche is nowhere mentioned. The statement is wholly lacking in context—the Nazis are glossed but that's all. It really doesn't make coherent sense. Gloss, that's the word that best describes this book. A gloss. The writer is careless with metaphors. We're told that cultures are "mental parasites," that "history disregards the happiness of individuals" and that "history made its most momentous choice." (p. 243-244). To say such things is to give agency to the non-sentient and adds to the narrative's by now utterly grating superficiality. Here's yet another bizarro statement:Had the Aztecs and Incas shown a bit more interest in the world surrounding them – and had they known what the Spaniards had done to their neighbors – they might have resisted the Spanish conquest more keenly and successfully. (p.292) Nonsense. The Spaniards had guns, germs and steel. Reread Jared Diamond and William H. Prescott, Mr. Harari. Foreknowledge would have availed the indigenous peoples little or nothing. The author goes on to admit as much in the paragraphs to follow, but why then wasn't that earlier sentence cut? But it gets better: If the subject peoples of the Inca Empire had known the fates of the inhabitants of Mexico, they would not have thrown in their lot with the invaders. But they did not now....[Thus] the native peoples of America...[paid] a heavy price for their parochial outlook. It's astonishing the author should use that ecclesiastical word. For what was the ostensible motivation of the conquerors but the glory of Christendom. Harari is blaming the victims. The world view of the Aztecs and Incas and others was limited. Harari blames them because they had not yet advanced beyond that basic if incomplete awareness. He then goes on to excoriate all of Asia and Africa for not having had the wherewithal to explore the world and conquer others. But these are cultural predilections, not standardized goals applicable to all. This leads to an unseemly West is the Best argument that's right out of Niall Ferguson's Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order. Is this book popular because it essentially functions as the West's cheering section? It's lovely we have developed science and technology and historiography etc. I'm glad I live in the West. But it's absurd to say that earlier cultures, because they did not develop in a timely manner our own particular brand of curiosity, were deficient. All cultures are blood soaked, our own included. The world is only what it is, not some counter-factual supposition.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marc Gerstein

    Had I stopped reading after the first section, I’d have given this a five stars and whined that the Goodreads platform doesn’t aloe reviewers to go higher. But I didn’t stop. I kept reading, . . . until it got so bad, I found myself unable to do more than skim, and eventually, to just skipping large chunks. It starts out as a fascinating discussion of the development and rise of our species, homo sapiens. But starting in the second section on the Agricultural Revolution, Harari shift gears and dr Had I stopped reading after the first section, I’d have given this a five stars and whined that the Goodreads platform doesn’t aloe reviewers to go higher. But I didn’t stop. I kept reading, . . . until it got so bad, I found myself unable to do more than skim, and eventually, to just skipping large chunks. It starts out as a fascinating discussion of the development and rise of our species, homo sapiens. But starting in the second section on the Agricultural Revolution, Harari shift gears and drops any pretense of an scholarly work. From that point on, it’s all personal bias all the time. This guy absolutely hates human beings and society. It seems that he is completely stuck in the idea that the world would have been better off had humanity simply stayed put in the hunter-gatherer stage.It seems all the countless billions of humans who lived since then are deluded and don't get it, and that only he understands. Yeah, right! OK. There are worse sins than personal bias. Many great writers have it and let it show. But unlike Harari, the good ones work to try to justify the positions they take. Harari, on the other hand just bombards readers with one opinion after another and treats them as proven fact, even though what he says is often debatable or out and out wrong. That’s one of the reasons I gave up on a close reading as I progressed into the second half. Even when it seemed as if Harari was selling me something I didn’t know (which did not occur often), I simply did not trust him. An author can choose to forego many things. Credibility and trust are not among them. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this mess is through a conversation I once had among people who liked to discuss philosophy. Somehow or other, though, this conversation veered off into a set of irritating rants on how western society sucks. The thing that sticks out most in my memory is how the host went off on a diatribe about the greatness of nature and Native Americans and about how he was fine being a non-vegetarian because the cows understood human need for meat and were happy to offer themselves as a precious spiritual gift to humanity. My reply: “That conclusion is based on interviews with how many cows?” The conversation abruptly ended. That is exactly the way I reacted to the self-serving gibberish offered by Harari under the guise of scholarly presentation.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    It is again unpopular opinion time! It seems it becomes a rule for me not to enjoy a book that everyone seems to love. Well, someone has to. Here we go with the review. Prepare your tomatoes and raw eggs (someone actually threw a raw egg at me once for fun but it bounced from my bum ) Sapiens’ beginning was fantastic. I loved the author’s voice and the information about the early days of the human kind was fascinating. I did not read any non-fiction about the origin of humans so I was excited to It is again unpopular opinion time! It seems it becomes a rule for me not to enjoy a book that everyone seems to love. Well, someone has to. Here we go with the review. Prepare your tomatoes and raw eggs (someone actually threw a raw egg at me once for fun but it bounced from my bum ) Sapiens’ beginning was fantastic. I loved the author’s voice and the information about the early days of the human kind was fascinating. I did not read any non-fiction about the origin of humans so I was excited to understand our origins better. I could not stop highlighting interesting passages to include in my review or to read later. Here are some of the ones that picked my interest. “It’s relatively easy to agree that only Homo sapiens can speak about things that don’t really exist, and believe six impossible things before breakfast. You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.” “Telling effective stories is not easy. The difficulty lies not in telling the story, but in convincing everyone else to believe it. Much of history revolves around this question: how does one convince millions of people to believe particular stories about gods, or nations, or limited liability companies? Yet when it succeeds, it gives Sapiens immense power, because it enables millions of strangers to cooperate and work towards common goals.” However, everything started to go downhill from somewhere in the middle of Part II. From an eager and excited reader I slowly became pissed off, disappointed and struggled to finish. I had several problems that plagued my reading experience and I plan to exemplify them below. First of all, I soon grew tired of the author’s ironic and condescending humor. His ego was transpiring from all his words and his personal opinions and the way he tried to enforce them annoyed me more and more. Secondly, I felt like many of his assumptions and extrapolations had no proof and they only represent the author’s personal opinion. For example, the way he supported for the whole book that humans were better of as hunter-gathers without bringing no real arguments to support his opinion. Finally, I had a problem with the scope of Sapiens. As the titles suggests, the book tries to be A Brief History of Humankind. I believe he did not succeed very well to do that and the reason is that it is quite impossible to do what the author planned in less than 500 pages. The task is too vast. The result is mix of everything with no structure, jumping from one subject to another and confusing the reader. The information was too vague, too general, it all resembled a set of interesting trivia. When reading other negative reviews of Sapiens I stumbled repeatedly on a recommendation: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. The book was already on my TBR so it is going to be the next read on the subject. I hope it will be better.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Petra X

    The book was too much a basic primer for me, at least to start with, but that's probably because I've read too many books on our origins biologically and culturally. Once the author had us settled into the civilization of cities he waxed romantically (as authors on this subject quite often do) on the life of the hunter gatherer and its perfection. (I've just finished Sebastian Junger's Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging and there was more of that.) If it was all so perfect then more of us would The book was too much a basic primer for me, at least to start with, but that's probably because I've read too many books on our origins biologically and culturally. Once the author had us settled into the civilization of cities he waxed romantically (as authors on this subject quite often do) on the life of the hunter gatherer and its perfection. (I've just finished Sebastian Junger's Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging and there was more of that.) If it was all so perfect then more of us would return to that ancient life style where people had more leisure, freedom and happiness according to Harari and Junger, neither of whom have given up their miserable materialistic lives for stalking around with a spear. The book got better. There were some good explanations of why we are as we are and how things developed, Such as human conversation evolving (see below) so we could gossip about our fellow tribes people. I didn't always agree with the author. But I always enjoy books like that to some extent because it gives me a different point of view, different reasons and things to think about. So this was good. But then it dragged at the end as the author got preachy and scifi technological about our bionic futures. At some time not in the unimaginable future, robots will think for themselves and be able to feel, and then they will supercede us... Yes well Asimov covered all that more than half a century ago. It's not going to happen we are too complex to duplicate. And anyway I can't see robots gossiping and if they don't do that what have they got to talk about (view spoiler)[the weather I suppose, if they were British robots. (hide spoiler)] that will make them 'human'? If the desire to gossip gave us speech, then the inability to gossip puts us right back into the pre-sapiens world. Robots are retrogression. Bionic bodies though, that might be progress. _________ Written on reading the book. According to the author, basic vocal communication was solved by the primates. And although animals aren't supposed to have theory of mind, green monkeys have been heard calling 'beware there's a lion' when there's no such thing, they just don't want to risk losing or having to share food they've just found. Human conversation apparently evolved so we could gossip. As a social animal, we need to know whose screwing who, who ripped off who, and who lives in a really disgusting midden. Maybe the author's right. He also says that we are not a tolerant species. He got that right for true.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    The only parts of this book that really grabbed my attention were the chapters on early humankind, and especially the interaction between Homo Sapiens and other Homo species. The rest of it is a very pedestrian and basic journey through some aspects of human history, with the author making a lot of sweeping assertions and tending towards a rather vague and disembodied explanation of things like culture, money, etc. These sort of general explanations might be good for someone new to the study of The only parts of this book that really grabbed my attention were the chapters on early humankind, and especially the interaction between Homo Sapiens and other Homo species. The rest of it is a very pedestrian and basic journey through some aspects of human history, with the author making a lot of sweeping assertions and tending towards a rather vague and disembodied explanation of things like culture, money, etc. These sort of general explanations might be good for someone new to the study of history, but the reader should beware that they don't get taken in too much by the author's often simplistic and one-sided explanation of these concepts. The unifying theme of it being "a history of humankind", focusing on Homo Sapiens as a species, often disappears and it becomes a general plod through whatever aspects of history the author is interested in. More on Homo Sapiens' relations with other species and with nature might have been good.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tanja Berg

    Rating 5* out of 5. This is one of those rare books which is superbly written, intelligent and mind-altering. I am convinced by this author's arguments and my view of the human condition has changed permanently. I thought this would be a book that would delve lavishly in later human evolution, but it is does not. It discusses it briefly and moves on, concentrating its effort on the times of agricultural revolution and forward. It is a masterpiece of anthropology. "Ever since the Cognitive Revolu Rating 5* out of 5. This is one of those rare books which is superbly written, intelligent and mind-altering. I am convinced by this author's arguments and my view of the human condition has changed permanently. I thought this would be a book that would delve lavishly in later human evolution, but it is does not. It discusses it briefly and moves on, concentrating its effort on the times of agricultural revolution and forward. It is a masterpiece of anthropology. "Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. One the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As times went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as United States and Google." "Unlike lying, an imagined reality is something that everyone believes in, and as long as this communal belief persits, the imagined reality exerts force in the world. [...] Most millionaires sincerely believe in the existence of money and limited liability of companies. Most human-rights activists sincerely believe in the existence of human rights." I have never considered the extent of the imagined reality we all live in before. I have never equated my belief in human rights with the belief in Vishnu, or considered that a corporation too is all in our collective heads. The author moves on through history and gives plenty of new perspectives on events. "Most people today successfully live up to the capitalist-consumerist ideal. The new ethic promises paradise on the condition that the rich remain greedy and spend their time making more money, and that the masses give free rein to their cravings and passions - and buy more and more. This is the first religion in history whose followers actually do what they are asked to do. How, though, do we know that we'll get paradise in return? We've seen it on television." These are just a few tidbits of insight and perspective. I absolutely loved this book! Highly recommended to anyone curious about the human condition.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    History and Sociology for Dummies, this book is almost irrecoverably watered down intellectually. Sapiens does make some interesting points and probably opens a few debates, but it disappointed me. There are lots of soundbites here, especially the oft-quoted one about the agricultural revolution being "history's greatest ripoff", but they remain soundbites because they never really reach a conclusion. The book starts out alright was the hunter-gatherer civilizations are discussed in some detail History and Sociology for Dummies, this book is almost irrecoverably watered down intellectually. Sapiens does make some interesting points and probably opens a few debates, but it disappointed me. There are lots of soundbites here, especially the oft-quoted one about the agricultural revolution being "history's greatest ripoff", but they remain soundbites because they never really reach a conclusion. The book starts out alright was the hunter-gatherer civilizations are discussed in some detail and without focusing exclusively on North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Harari's chapters here did make for decent reading about the concept the author calls the cognitive revolution which separates us from other animals. Unfortunately, the next section about the agricultural revolution is a bit too polemical. Yes, it was a radical change and yes it did lead to new problems (disease, famine, etc), but without it, the human species would likely have never evolved to the point of me typing this text on my laptop and you reading it in a browser. There are not parallel paths proposed, just a vague condemnation of agriculture before he takes on the subject of religions. Here, he talks of the evolution of monotheism from the polytheistic systems that abounded before. I felt he did not discuss in sufficient death the animist systems (which still dominate Africa, South America, and the Arctic among others.) He seems to favor Buddhism (the pages there have a much more tolerant and fawning tone than those of the other religions) which seemed a little intellectually dishonest to me - I mean if he is trying to develop a dispassionate argument about how religions develop, he should not take a particular position without announcing it first. Anyway, after this, the book covers the industrial revolution and brings us up to modern times. Honestly, I felt that the end of the book really soured the whole product for me. Well, I was already annoyed with all the cute phrases and the prolific use of "!" at the end of 20% of the sentences (OK, I am exaggerating but seriously, a "history" book shouldn't use the exclamation point says the snob reviewer). But when the author sets up an argument about where we should be headed as a human race, he then goes off on bizarre tangents about cyber technology and refers to an obscure Project Gutenberg (which unless I missed something major earlier in the book, he never mentioned before). I felt that the last chapter just came out of nowhere and made absolutely no sense. Perhaps, as other reviews here on GR have suspected, no one actually reads this book, preferring to leave it unsullied on their coffee table as a prop to their showoff intellectualism. In any case, it didn't do it for me. Unfortunately, my in-laws who bought me Sapiens also bought me the sequel so I suppose I will be guilted into reading it at some point. In conclusion, I prefer reading REAL history books with caffeine rather than this decaffeinated, saccharin substitute for them. I am not alone in my disdain for this over-publicized waste of trees. A friend passed me this article: https://www.thenewatlantis.com/public... in which the author concludes: "But Sapiens provides us with no resources for answering questions about the moral implications of scientific and technological change. A commitment to a reductionist, mechanistic view of Homo sapiens may give us some insight into some of the aspects of our past most tied to our material nature. But Harari’s view of culture and of ethical norms as fundamentally fictional makes impossible any coherent moral framework for thinking about and shaping our future. And it asks us to pretend that we are not what we know ourselves to be — thinking and feeling subjects, moral agents with free will, and social beings whose culture builds upon the facts of the physical world but is not limited to them." This book is waaaaay overrated.

  11. 4 out of 5

    M.

    Bu kitabın değindiği konulara değinen Kozmos, Üçüncü Şempanze gibi şahane kitaplar varken bu kitabın bir yılı aşkın süredir en çok satan kitap olmasının altındaki sebebi çözemiyorum. Başlarda güzel giden (bilimsel ifadeler, kaynak gösterme, objektif anlatım, konu bütünlüğü) kitap giderek subjektifleşmeye ve çizgisini bozmaya başlıyor. Normatif ifadeler, empirik yöntemler dışında sezgiye dayalı aksiyomlar... Alenen propagandası yapılan Kapitalist söylem de cabası. Büyük bir heves ve şevkle başladım Bu kitabın değindiği konulara değinen Kozmos, Üçüncü Şempanze gibi şahane kitaplar varken bu kitabın bir yılı aşkın süredir en çok satan kitap olmasının altındaki sebebi çözemiyorum. Başlarda güzel giden (bilimsel ifadeler, kaynak gösterme, objektif anlatım, konu bütünlüğü) kitap giderek subjektifleşmeye ve çizgisini bozmaya başlıyor. Normatif ifadeler, empirik yöntemler dışında sezgiye dayalı aksiyomlar... Alenen propagandası yapılan Kapitalist söylem de cabası. Büyük bir heves ve şevkle başladım lakin beni hayal kırıklığına uğrattı. Kapitalistlerin eleştirilere verdiği yanıtı aktaran şu ifadeye bakalım: "İkinci cevap da biraz daha sabırlı olmamız gerektiğidir. Kapitalistlerin söz verdiği cennete ulaşmamıza çok az kalmıştır. Tarihte Atlantik köle ticareti ve Avrupa işçi sınıfının sömürülmesi gibi bazı yanlışlar yapılmıştır ama bunlardan ders çıkardık ve biraz daha bekleyip pastanın biraz daha büyümesine izin verirsek herkes daha büyük pay alacaktır. Bu bölünme tam olara keşit olmayacak ama dünyadaki her adamın, kadının ve çocuğun payına yeterli miktar düşecek, Kongo'da bile. Buna dönük olumlu işaretler mevcut. En azından sadece somut kriterler kullandığımızda (Örneğin yaşam beklentisi, çocuk ölümleri ve kalori alımı) görebiliyoruz ki, 2013 yılındaki ortalama bir insanın yaşam koşulları, insan nüfusundaki çok büyük bir artışa rağmen, 1913 yılındakinden çok daha iyi durumdadır." (s.328) Yalnızca İngiliz sanayi ürünlerini satın alsınlar ve evde kumaş dokumasınlar diye Hintli kadınların başparmaklarını kesen de kapitalizm ve bütün bunlara "bazı yanlışlar yapılmıştır" deyip geçmek bu kitaba yakışmamış. Konunun gidişinden bu bölümün kapitalistlerle yapılan bir karşılıklı konuşma gibi yazıldığı da düşünüldüğünde, "olumlu işaretler mevcut" diyerek yazar alenen bir taraf tutuyor. Yaşam koşullarının 1913 yılından daha iyi durumda olduğu iddiasını "çok daha iyi durumda olabilirdi" şeklinde ters çevirip baktığınızda; son 100 yılda insanlığın başına gelen (bu zaman aralığında 2 atom bombası patladı ve yüz binlerce insan nükleer silahlar veya bunların bağlı olduğu sonuçlarla öldü, bu 1913'ten önce olmayan bir şeydi) onlarca şeyi gözardı ederek ancak bu cümleyi kurabiliriz. Dikkatli bir okur şunu anlayacaktır ki, yazarın kitap boyunca kapitalizmle ilgili iddiaları tartışırken alttan alta yapmaya çalıştığı şey; bireysel ve toplumsal şiddetin, cinsel eşitsizliğin, sömürünün ve sağlıksız koşullarda yaşamaya hapsedilmiş fakir kitlelerin, hayvanlara karşı uygulanan vahşetin tamamen 'homo sapiens'in türünün doğal özellikleri olduğunu ve bunun kapitalizmin değil de homo sapiens'in suçu olduğu; kapitalizmin bunun aksine, barışın, fakirlerin karnının doymasının, ortalama mutluluğun sağlanması yönünde bir evrimin doğal sonucu olduğunu satır aralarında empoze etmeye çalışmak. Atom bombasını bile barışı sağladı diyerek (uluslararası ilişkilerde bu "topyekün mahvolma korkusunun sağladığı görece barışçıl ortam" diye tanımlanır) adeta övüyor. Buna benzer felsefi tartışmalar defalarca yapıldı ve adeta "olabilecek dünyaların en iyisi" düşünme biçimi de daha önce denendi. Fukuyama'cı bir "liberalizmin zaferi" dayatması; lineer tarih düşüncesinin (Marksistlerin de düştüğü) hatalarından birisi. Yazar da bu hataya düşüyor. Belki kapitalizm olmasaydı Manhattan projesi yerine Gılgamış Projesi'ne aktarılan milyarlarca dolar insan ömrünü bugün 4 katına çıkarmış olabilirdi. Teknolojinin kar amacıyla kanalize edilmesi belki de onun önünde bir engel? Kapitalizm belki de insanlığın dumura uğraması? Bunun gibi tonlarca alternatif düşünce üretilebilir ki bilim sorgulamak demektir. "Öncelikle bilim ve imparatorluk adındaki iki motorun birbirine nasıl bağlandığına, arkasından da bu ikisinin kapitalizmin para pompalaması sayesinde nasıl ileriye doğru fırladığına yakından bakacağız." (s.273) "Hem bilimin hem de imparatorlukların olağanüstü yükselişinin arkasında özellikle önemli bir güç daha vardır: kapitalizm. Daha fazla para kazanmak için uğraşan işadamları olmasaydı, ne Kolomb Amerika'ya ne James Cook Avustralya'ya ulaşır, ne de Neil Armstrong Ay'ın yüzeyindeki o küçük adımı atabilirdi." (s.301) Nereden biliyoruz? Yani bu varsayımın böyle olacağını nereden biliyoruz? Bu kadar emin nasıl olabiliyoruz... Bilim insanı her zaman şüpheci olmak zorundadır. "Kapitalizm olmasaydı aya bile gidemezdik" demek bir bilim insanına yakışmaz. Zira hiçbir bilim insanı kapitalizm olmasaydı ne olacağını bilemez. Zaten yazar Avrupa'nın başarısını aktardığı "Bilimle İmparatorluğun Evliliği" bölümünde Avrupa'nın başarısını şöyle yorumluyor: "Avrupa, erken modern çağda, sonradan dünyayı fethetmesini sağlayacak nasıl bir potansiyel geliştirmişti? Bu soruya birbirini tamamlayan iki cevap verilebilir: modern bilim ve kapitalizm. Avrupalılar belirli bir teknolojik üstünlükleri olmadığı sıralarda bile, bilimsel ve kapitalist zihniyetle düşünmeye ve davranmaya alışmışlardı." (s.281) "Bilimsel ve kapitalist" bu ikisinin arasındaki "ve" ye dikkat çekerim. Birbirini tamamlayan iki cevap ise modern bilim ve kapitalizmmiş. Bir bilim insanı modern bilimin kapitalizmi tamamladığını (veya tersini) nasıl bir cesaretle iddia edebilir? Bunların ispatı veya bunların yanlışlanması nasıl olabilecekti? Satır aralarında kapitalizm vurgusu yapılan bu kitapta bir ideolojinin propagandasını yapmak bilim insanına yakışmayacak bir yaklaşımdır. Siyaset biliminde esas olan bütün ideolojilere eşit mesafede durmaktır, hatta bir ideolojiniz varsa bile. Daha iyi bir kitap için: Kozmos M.B.

  12. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Choose Your Fictions Carefully There are far too many fascinating assertions in this book to even mention. But for me the most fascinating is Harari’s idea of the Cognitive Revolution which took place about 70,000 years ago. "We might call it the Tree of Knowledge mutation. Why did it occur in Sapiens DNA rather than in that of Neanderthals? It was a matter of pure chance, as far as we can tell. But it’s more important to understand the consequences of the Tree of Knowledge mutation than its caus Choose Your Fictions Carefully There are far too many fascinating assertions in this book to even mention. But for me the most fascinating is Harari’s idea of the Cognitive Revolution which took place about 70,000 years ago. "We might call it the Tree of Knowledge mutation. Why did it occur in Sapiens DNA rather than in that of Neanderthals? It was a matter of pure chance, as far as we can tell. But it’s more important to understand the consequences of the Tree of Knowledge mutation than its causes." It is this mysterious, and as yet unexplained, change in human genetics that he pinpoints as the primary reason for the ultimate success of the species Homo Sapiens in competition not just with established flora and fauna but with other human forms. Interestingly, Harari’s argument also establishes the anthropological foundations for literary post-modernism. To over-simplify, but not by much, the Cognitive Revolution of Sapiens is precisely the ability to tell, and eventually read and write, stories, that is, fictional narratives which are interesting, entertaining, and above all convincing. This ability, an evolutionary enigma because it does not give obviously immediate advantage, underlies human ability to organize beyond very small units, to cooperate in matters of survival, and to prevail against competing species which are stronger, quicker, better adapted to the environment, able to speak in a more varied manner, and even more clever. These narratives, according to the narrative told by Harari, begin in gossip, talk among ourselves about ourselves, which is a behaviour that is now as far as anyone knows unique to Homo Sapiens, and may even have even been unique among others of the genus Homo. Gossip leads to shared tales about common experiences, ancestors, and problems. These tales evolve into myths which are widely shared and identify large groups as ‘us’. "There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws and no justice outside the common imagination of human beings." Such tales incrementally employ an increasing lexicon of fictional, that is to say abstract, ideas. It is these ideas which allow the ultimate success of Sapiens, not necessarily because of their pragmatic qualities, but because, whatever they are, they are shared: “Myths, it transpired, are stronger than anyone could have imagined. When the Agricultural Revolution opened opportunities for the creation of crowded cities and mighty empires, people invented stories about great gods, motherlands and joint stock companies to provide the needed social links. While human evolution was crawling at its usual snail’s pace, the human imagination was building astounding networks of mass cooperation, unlike any other ever seen on earth.” As modern existential and linguistic philosophers have thought for some time, these ideas - scientific, religious, technological, social, legal - are fundamental fictions that become progressively indistinguishable from the ‘natural’ world which is apart from the imagined world of language. As Harari states what is a reiteration of this philosophical conclusion: “Three main factors prevent people from realising that the order organising their lives exists only in their imagination:... a. The imagined order is embedded in the material world... b. The imagined order shapes our desires... c. The imagined order is inter-subjective.” It is this invisibility of these linguistic fictions which constitute daily life that is both the greatest strength and greatest flaw of our species. We are able to organise ourselves, because of them, to travel to the Moon. We are also able to believe a half dozen untruths before breakfast. The internet is perhaps the best example of the paradox of our fraught existence since it promotes both cooperation and mass deceit. For me the implications are clear: 1) literature is the only hope for the world. Fiction - novels, fairy tales, fantasies, and lots of 'em - are the only means to get a grip on reality. Reading lots of fiction developes the aesthetic sense. And it is only through aesthetics that one can decide what is important and how to deal with what is important. 2) It is also clear to me that novels cultivated our species genetically over millennia for this very reason - to get us better at reading them.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is an excellent book about the history of humans, covering all aspects; evolution, anthropology, geography, psychology, religion, ideologies, and the future of humans. Physically, the book is beautiful; the glossy paper makes it heavy as well. What really makes the book interesting is the unique points of view that the author, Yuval Harari, brings to life. For example, early in the book, Harari mentions that chimps and sapiens (humans) can only organize in groups of up to 150, without organi This is an excellent book about the history of humans, covering all aspects; evolution, anthropology, geography, psychology, religion, ideologies, and the future of humans. Physically, the book is beautiful; the glossy paper makes it heavy as well. What really makes the book interesting is the unique points of view that the author, Yuval Harari, brings to life. For example, early in the book, Harari mentions that chimps and sapiens (humans) can only organize in groups of up to 150, without organizing into a hierarchical structure. So, how did cities grow to their enormous size? Through fiction. Yes, that's right, through fiction, through beliefs in common myths. These are myths about ideologies. These imaginary fictions include human rights, nations, and currency; they work because many people cooperatively believe in them. Some civilizations are built quite differently from our own. For example, the Bari Indians believe that genes do not come from a single pair of parents, but that they are contributed by multiple fathers. Monogamous relationships do not exist among their tribes. Harari discusses a number of controversial theories about nuclear families and monogamous relationships. One theory states that infidelities and divorce of modern times stem from forcing people to live in unnatural, permanent relationships. Another theory holds that monogamy and nuclear families are core human behaviors. Harari describes the disappearance of many animal species in certain habitats that are coincidental in time with the arrival of humans. For example, Australia lost 23 of 24 large animal species at about the same time that humans migrated there. Many other islands were also rich in large mammals until humans arrived. Harari discusses the agricultural revolution in some detail. He addresses the question why agriculture became important in the Middle East, Central America, and China, but did not become popular in Australia, Alaska, or South Africa. He explains that most plants and animals cannot be domesticated, and that regions where there is a deficit in domesticatable plants and animals did not develop agriculture. It is obvious that Harari laments the rise of agriculture. He claims that hunter gatherers, who roamed the lands and did not stick to one location like agriculturists, were more stimulated, less in danger of starvation and disease. Their diets were more varied. Agriculture increased the volume of food, but not better quality of food, and did not yield more leisure-time. Agriculture created population explosions and pampered elites. In fact, Harari claims that the agricultural revolution is "history's biggest fraud." The culprits of this fraud were wheat, rice, and potatoes, all plants that domesticated humans! Also, farming encouraged warfare, because it forced people to fight to protect territory. And agriculture, because it developed over millennia (not overnight), created consequences gradually. People could not anticipate the full consequences of their decisions. More wheat helped to lead to more children, and less food for each. Harari compares the Code of Hammurabi with the American Declaration of Independence. Hammurabi's code implicitly acknowledges three classes; superiors, commoners, and slaves. The Declaration of Independence states that all men were created equally. But Harari disputes this; he states that men were not created at all, but instead they evolved differently. From a sociological point of view, Harari asks why are most cities patriarchical. It is not because men are stronger. Physical prowess is inversely proportional to social power in most societies. He explores various theories, but none of them are very compelling. Since the French Revolution, political history is a series of attempts to reconcile liberty--which involves individual freedom--and equality. In order to understand another culture, one should look at the "Catch 22's", that is, look where rules and standards contradict each other. These contradictions are part of culture. For example, in Medieval Europe, there was a clash between Christianity and chivalry. In modern Western civilization, there are clashes between equality and liberty. I have just scratched the surface of this big book. I will leave you with one more unique point of view expressed in this book. Harari calls the present modern age the "Age of Ignorance." I won't explain this; it would be a spoiler. This book is a wonderful introduction to sociology, and I highly recommend it to all.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ·Karen·

    Beginner's guide to sociobiology. And since I am a complete beginner, perfect for me. I finished this some six months ago: interesting to see what has remained: gossip, something I hate and rarely indulge in, is an important factor in creating social cohesion, (so perhaps I should revise my attitude to it). True, when you think about it: you and I can only gossip about someone we both know. And it might be important to know who is forming an alliance behind our back. However, as social glue, goss Beginner's guide to sociobiology. And since I am a complete beginner, perfect for me. I finished this some six months ago: interesting to see what has remained: gossip, something I hate and rarely indulge in, is an important factor in creating social cohesion, (so perhaps I should revise my attitude to it). True, when you think about it: you and I can only gossip about someone we both know. And it might be important to know who is forming an alliance behind our back. However, as social glue, gossip can only work in smaller groups: once you get past around forty or fifty it becomes unwieldy. Then you need to invent some story that everyone believes in, a story to bind 'us' together, that 'we' are 'we' and 'we' are defined (not 'them', who believe in something 'other'). Exceeding accessible, enjoyable, packed with information. I learned a lot, but then I was starting from absolute zero.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ranjeev Dubey

    Every once in a decade, a book comes along that has the capacity to radically change the way we think about matters of substance. This book is one of them. It asks fundamental questions about our evolution as humans and offers counter intuitive, tangential viewpoints. It tests our thinking, provokes new trains of thought. The book is highly readable and an immense provocation. It must be read, whether or not you are particularly interested in mankind, its history, its evolution or its future. I Every once in a decade, a book comes along that has the capacity to radically change the way we think about matters of substance. This book is one of them. It asks fundamental questions about our evolution as humans and offers counter intuitive, tangential viewpoints. It tests our thinking, provokes new trains of thought. The book is highly readable and an immense provocation. It must be read, whether or not you are particularly interested in mankind, its history, its evolution or its future. I can't repeat myself often enough. Its an absolute mandatory read. No question about it. A NOTE ON RATING: I rate most good books at 3 stars, meaning it was a good read and was worth the time it took to read. I work on the principle that a good book is par for the course: we are all expected to write good books. If any ingredient is missing, I downgrade it to two stars. This is the only book I have given five stars. I need not say more. Please just read it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Very well read by Derek Perkins, I highly recommend this book to everyone. Whatever your beliefs, you'll find plenty of food for thought in this relatively brief outline of our history from a middling animal to whatever the hell we are now. It's about 15 hours long, but never dragged a bit. I made excuses to listen every minute that I could & even downloaded the ebook to reread sections for clarification & to ponder a bit more at length. I highly recommend this method. (I'm putting this Very well read by Derek Perkins, I highly recommend this book to everyone. Whatever your beliefs, you'll find plenty of food for thought in this relatively brief outline of our history from a middling animal to whatever the hell we are now. It's about 15 hours long, but never dragged a bit. I made excuses to listen every minute that I could & even downloaded the ebook to reread sections for clarification & to ponder a bit more at length. I highly recommend this method. (I'm putting this section first because I wax poetic (read "long winded") below.) I've listened to several books on evolution lately: Voyage of the Beagle, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, & Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors. I would have thought these books sufficient since I have no particular interest in or need for this branch of science, but it was the runner up for the monthly read for the "Science & Inquiry" group. It looked interesting & was available in audio, so I took a chance. I'm so glad I did. It goes far beyond those. It's not just biology, anthropology, sociology, politics, or even history, but an examination of us through them all. Harari uses a macro overview of our evolution from the mere biological to the cognitive, agricultural, unification, & scientific revolutions. He then looks at what they really mean to us both as a species & as individuals. Harari's timeline summarizes much of his text nicely. The times below are in years ago. 4.5 billion: Formation of planet Earth. 3.8 billion: Emergence of organisms. Beginning of biology. 6 million: Last common grandmother of humans and chimpanzees. 2.5 million: Evolution of the genus Homo in Africa. First stone tools. 2 million: Humans spread from Africa to Eurasia. Evolution of different human species. 500,000: Neanderthals evolve in Europe and the Middle East. 300,000: Daily usage of fire. 200,000: Homo sapiens evolves in East Africa. (Update to this. In 2017, 300K year old Homo Sapien fossils were discovered. May not have been confined to East Africa.) 70,000: The Cognitive Revolution. Emergence of fictive language. Beginning of history. Sapiens spread out of Africa. 45,000: Sapiens settle Australia. Extinction of Australian megafauna. 30,000: Extinction of Neanderthals. 16,000: Sapiens settle America. Extinction of American megafauna. 13,000: Extinction of Homo floresiensis. Homo sapiens the only surviving human species. 12,000: The Agricultural Revolution. Domestication of plants and animals. Permanent settlements. 5,000: First kingdoms, script and money. Polytheistic religions. 4,250: First empire – the Akkadian Empire of Sargon. 2,500: Invention of coinage – a universal money. The Persian Empire – a universal political order ‘for the benefit of all humans’. Buddhism in India – a universal truth ‘to liberate all beings from suffering’. 2,000: Han Empire in China. Roman Empire in the Mediterranean. Christianity. 1,400: Islam. 500: The Scientific Revolution. Humankind admits its ignorance and begins to acquire unprecedented power. Europeans begin to conquer America and the oceans. The entire planet becomes a single historical arena. The rise of capitalism. 200: The Industrial Revolution. Family and community are replaced by state and market. Massive extinction of plants and animals. The Present: Humans transcend the boundaries of planet Earth. Nuclear weapons threaten the survival of humankind. Organisms are increasingly shaped by intelligent design rather than natural selection. The Future: Intelligent design becomes the basic principle of life? Homo Sapiens is replaced by superhumans? The human animals were in the middle of the food chain & basically not significant players in evolutionary terms for over 2 million years. Homo Erectus & Neanderthals were around, even tamed fire & used tools. It’s a common fallacy to envision these species as arranged in a straight line of descent, with Ergaster begetting Erectus, Erectus begetting the Neanderthals, and the Neanderthals evolving into us. This linear model gives the mistaken impression that at any particular moment only one type of human inhabited the earth, and that all earlier species were merely older models of ourselves. The truth is that from about 2 million years ago until around 10,000 years ago, the world was home, at one and the same time, to several human species. And why not? Today there are many species of foxes, bears and pigs. The earth of a hundred millennia ago was walked by at least six different species of man. The big take away is that we are not exclusive. There are even indications that we interbred both with Neanderthals & at least one other. It wasn't until our cognitive evolution of 70,000 years ago that Homo Sapiens really began to emerge from the other animals & they did so with a vengeance. We wiped out all competition with thoroughness & the paranoia of a Banana Republic dictator. (His comparison & an apt one in relation to his argument.) Megafauna (animals over 100 lbs) die-offs followed our emergence into an environment with regularity all over the globe. It's really interesting how much we have changed the environment for so long. He contends that no human has lived "naturally" since our cognitive leap. Evolutionary Success means the more copies of the DNA, the better. This does NOT equate to individual comfort, circumstance, or survival, simply to the overall number of individuals available to reproduce. This perspective is very important in the course of the book. For instance, did we domesticate wheat or did it domesticate us? Wheat went from a scattered grass in one small region of the globe to covering an enormous amount of the globe & it didn't really do any favors for the early average humans that raised it. Overall, their individual lives were probably worse than that of their free ranging contemporaries, but more humans could live in smaller areas - an evolutionary success & the Luxury Trap: What was once a luxury quickly becomes a necessity. His take on our ability to communicate is wonderful. We're not the only species who can lie (monkeys can & do) nor the best at making sounds (parrots are better), but we're the ones that gossip & spin collective fictions (shared myths) that we agree on: money, empires, & religion - the main forces that unify us. Money is a shared myth, an imaginative leap to believing that a particular item of little practical worth was in fact a counter of far reaching consequences. His explanations of the failure of barter, shared favors, & economies are masterful. He gets into the shared structures & ways we dealt with the increasing complexity of life. Where the hunter-gatherer only had to remember where food was, the farmer had to think ahead & deal with supporting more specialized humans - leaders & taxes. That led to writing which started out as accounts & math. His queries & examples on why we primarily have patriarchal societies was interesting, if inconclusive. That's one of the things I like about his writing; he doesn't insist on conclusions, but is OK with describing interesting points to ponder. His macro view of the unification of the globe was excellent. Empires were eventually good things for humanity as a whole, but pretty horrific on those participating in their formation & pure hell on the environment. Religion: While he says Religion can thus be defined as a system of human norms and values that is founded on a belief in a superhuman order. he later refines this with the discussion of those that believe natural laws provide the order, not a supernatural being. ...Jainism and Buddhism in India, Daoism and Confucianism in China, and Stoicism, Cynicism and Epicureanism in the Mediterranean basin, were characterized by their disregard of gods. Animistic religions had little need to spread the word & those with pantheons often adopted some of the conquered gods, so it wasn't until the rise of monotheism that the real religious trouble started. Monotheists have tended to be far more fanatical and missionary than polytheists. A religion that recognizes the legitimacy of other faiths implies either that its god is not the supreme power of the universe, or that it received from God just part of the universal truth. Since monotheists have usually believed that they are in possession of the entire message of the one and only God, they have been compelled to discredit all other religions. Over the last two millennia, monotheists repeatedly tried to strengthen their hand by violently exterminating all competition. He further stretches his definition of religion to include shared myths. 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. I've always thought politics & economics were just another form of belief system & he confirms that. He looks into our various empires & how they evolved through history along with the many changes they caused. The Scientific Revolution is plain incredible in the amount of change it has made in the world in such a short time - a mere 500 years. He calls it "The Discovery of Ignorance". Where religions pretend to know it all or else dismiss it as unimportant, science admits ignorance & tries to cure it. When coupled with the hunger & resources of empires based on capitalism, it launched us into today - for good or ill - he has plenty of examples of both. He wraps up by asking some hard questions about the future. He doesn't even pretend to know where we might wind up in even a few decades. In fact, he admits that he probably didn't even mention what will seem a likely scenario from hindsight, but he does point out a few of the things that should trouble us. Much of it he ties to the Gilgamesh Project - our search to cure disease & stave off death possibly unto immortality. On the surface, this seems like a noble aim, but it is guaranteed to raise some thorny problems along the way. - We will soon be able to resurrect the Woolly Mammoth from extinction. This seems like a laudable project, but what about resurrecting the Neanderthal or any other species of sapien? - What if a new drug that cures Alzheimer's makes regular people smarter? Should we regulate it? Could we? Considering the success of the current 'War on Drugs', I highly doubt it. What would that do to our society? - The irony of those arguing for 'Intelligent Design' as an alternative to the 'Theory of Evolution' is that intelligent design is actually happening now for the first time ever in our history. We're regularly teaching bacteria to perform new tricks & are actively trying to change the genome of domesticated animals in ways that breeding can't accomplish such as changing pork's Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio. What about doing it to people? When it becomes simple to change a fetus' genetic predilection for high cholesterol, it will probably also be easy to change their sexual orientation or intelligence. - As far as we've advanced in the biological sciences, bionics is coming along as is pure hardware. People are getting more & more artificial body parts. Scientists are seeking to create artificial intelligences as well as create human to machine mind interfaces. What is human? He also asks a great question - are we better off or happier? He spends a chapter on happiness. What is it? While he doesn't really try to answer the question, there is a lot to think about. An interesting quirk of his is to use the feminine rather than masculine pronouns in ambiguous situations. It made no difference in the content, of course.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Simon Clark

    Fantastic. Absolutely sublime. I don't think I've ever read a book with such grand scope, or a book that promises to cover so much and actually delivers. Dealing with the biggest questions about our species - Why are we here? Why are we the way we are? What does our happiness mean? - Harari writes precisely and with shrewd use of metaphor, providing answers that seem intuitively right but leading us to think further than we have before. The links between giant forces that control our world such Fantastic. Absolutely sublime. I don't think I've ever read a book with such grand scope, or a book that promises to cover so much and actually delivers. Dealing with the biggest questions about our species - Why are we here? Why are we the way we are? What does our happiness mean? - Harari writes precisely and with shrewd use of metaphor, providing answers that seem intuitively right but leading us to think further than we have before. The links between giant forces that control our world such as capitalism, science, and empire are made brilliantly and made me see the world through fresh eyes. Dizzyingly good. Everyone should read this.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "The ability to speak about fictions is the most unique feature of Sapiens language...fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively." -- Yuval Noah Harari , Sapiens The writing style reminds me a bit of Bob Wright's The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, or Sagan's Cosmos. It is obviously a book directed at non-academics interested in 'Big History'. If I "The ability to speak about fictions is the most unique feature of Sapiens language...fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively." -- Yuval Noah Harari , Sapiens The writing style reminds me a bit of Bob Wright's The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, or Sagan's Cosmos. It is obviously a book directed at non-academics interested in 'Big History'. If I were to compare Wright's writing for a general audience and Harari's, I'd probably suggest that Harari is a bit more flamboyant in his speculations and inferences (a bit more like Mann). I imagine more than a few academic anthropologists, geneticist, archaeologists would read this book with a need to keep their eyes from rolling back. I'm not saying he's wrong. I seriously don't have enough evidence, or enough background to argue individual points. I'm just saying his flag on this flies pretty high. For entertainment, this book is firmly a 5. For veracity, perhaps a 3? But it is VERY engaging and like Wright, Mann, and Gladwell before him, Harari has capture the imagination of the reading public by taking academic topics and smoothing out the rough edges and making it easier for a general audience to swallow and digest. That is why these pop-academic books keep getting written, they sell WELL. The end of 'Sapiens' jumps ahead to the future of mankind and serves as almost a tease for Harari's next book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ehud Amir

    A Brief History of the Right Questions At the 16th Century, Peter Bruegel the Elder has painted his Landscape with the Fall of Icarus: a farmer works in the field, ships sail by – and at the bottom, at the corner, almost invisible, Icarus falls to the sea. The Icarus Myth is remembered for thousands of years; the farmer in the painting had lived and died in anonymity. Why, therefore, had Bruegel painted such a small and marginal Icarus and such a central farmer? “A Brief History of Humankind” by Y A Brief History of the Right Questions At the 16th Century, Peter Bruegel the Elder has painted his Landscape with the Fall of Icarus: a farmer works in the field, ships sail by – and at the bottom, at the corner, almost invisible, Icarus falls to the sea. The Icarus Myth is remembered for thousands of years; the farmer in the painting had lived and died in anonymity. Why, therefore, had Bruegel painted such a small and marginal Icarus and such a central farmer? “A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari isn’t a conventional, standard history book. Its points of view are of a surprise also for the scholar reader and the professional historian; they satisfy one's curiosity, they are thought-provoking and they may enrage many readers. It’s not a history text whose content is foreseeable, that fits a certain outlook, and in whose index the reader might find anything he already knows, expects and likes. Through illuminating connections between events and their meanings, and through a spectacular integration of history, paleontology, anthropology and sociology, Harari reviews the key questions dealing with the riddle of our being here: how had Homo Sapiens had developed from a minor zoological species to the position of the ruler of the Earth? Which mental structures and beliefs it had created in order to stabilize and expand its domination? What were these ideas? How were created the ideas which had changed human history? What can one learn about the human nature by reviewing the way it all had happened? The questions Harari asks enlighten the history through an important, fascinating and clarifying perspective – much more than the routine pile of tyrants, commanders, battles, dates and eras that any regular history book is composed of. Which events influenced most on humanity's fate? Not wars but domestication of plants and animals; not conquests of cities but technical inventions and scientific discoveries; not formulating political coalitions but the invention of ideologies: money, religions, nations. Every change in the perception of the human consciousness, every change in communication, Technology or medicine, any development of the interconnectedness of the ultra-values of the western world – capitalism, technology, science - had influenced the human fate much more than any conquest of a certain city, a certain battle or an empire's rising and falling. That's why the medical researcher William Harvey is much more important than Genghis Khan; that's why the Penicillin discoverer Ernst Boris Chain has influenced – and is influencing – the lives of much more people than Hitler and Stalin has ever influenced, combined; that's why fifty Osama bin Ladens aren't the equal of one Thomas Edison, Humphry Davy or Michael Faraday. That's why the anonymous peasant who had brought a sheaf of wild wheat to his house is much more important than Icarus; and that's why Yuval Noah Harari's book is one of the most important popular history books of the recent years.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    I haven't read a ton of "history of the world" books, but this was fascinating. Highly recommended. I think the author is incredibly good at explaining and simplifying big concepts. He take on complex things like religion & capitalism and explains them in very simple terms that you likely hadn't thought about before. The history of religion chapter was very interesting. I hadn't thought about the fact that many early religions were animists or polytheists, or dualists. Nor the fact that they I haven't read a ton of "history of the world" books, but this was fascinating. Highly recommended. I think the author is incredibly good at explaining and simplifying big concepts. He take on complex things like religion & capitalism and explains them in very simple terms that you likely hadn't thought about before. The history of religion chapter was very interesting. I hadn't thought about the fact that many early religions were animists or polytheists, or dualists. Nor the fact that they all sort of merged into todays concepts: "monotheism, as it has played out in history, is a kaleidoscope of monotheist, dualist, polytheist and animist legacies, jumbling together under a single divine umbrella. The average Christian believes in the monotheist God, but also in the dualist Devil, in polytheist saints, and in animist ghosts." There was a fascinating bit on the scientific mindset, and how it was key to Europe taking power. After the scientific revolution, they believed in science and its ability to let man discover new things, make more money, etc. This made them into explorers, whereas many other cultures remained very static. Great example of China having had gunpowder for hundreds of years but not using it for anything other than fireworks, and didn't invent the gun. Reminded me a bit of the Mindset. The chapter on capitalism was fascinating. There line about before its invention that the economy didn't grow, and was "frozen" as nobody poured money into new things, so there was no growth. Then the notion of credit was discovered, and as growth started, the combination snowballed. In 1500 the annual per capita production was $550 and today its $8,800 - this is an astounding increase, and all because of the virtuous growth cycle of capitalism: money is invested -> businesses grow -> people make money -> they invest their money. I never thought about the fact that reinvesting profits is a core piece of capitalism, but from this lens it really is. "The human economy has nevertheless managed to keep on growing throughout the modern era, thanks only to the fact that scientists come up with another discovery or gadget every few years – such as the continent of America, the internal combustion engine, or genetically engineered sheep." What I didn't see coming is how the end of the book was dedicated to human happiness. Fascinating questions to ask if we are happier today than 1,000 or 2,000 years ago. By metrics of death rate, average age of death and general health, we ought to be. But clearly peasants after the agricultural revolution were on average less happy than they were before as hunter-gatherers. And now we live in an always-on internet age, with pressure to continue growing our economy. So are we happier? It is the right question, in my opinion. The book then gave the basics of the happiness framework that I've also read in other places and believe in: that people are happy when they have 3 things: (1) Friends and family that love them (2) Are part of a community that makes them feel like they below (3) have a purpose to their life and feel like they are doing something meaningful. However, the book then adds onto this in another way that I have been learning about but hadn't put together with this: meditation. "According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify. People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them. This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices." So the moral of the book is basically that we should all meditate a lot, stop worrying, and be happy with what we have.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rosie Nguyễn

    Quá quá quá hay. Lâu lâu lắm rồi mới đọc một quyển sách non - fic xuất sắc như vậy. Có thể gọi là kiểu mẫu của thể loại non - fic khoa học viết cho đại chúng, lập luận chặt chẽ, dẫn chứng phong phú, giả thiết thuyết phục, vừa trí tuệ vừa hài hước, đọc mà hầu như không thể rời mắt được vì quá hấp dẫn. Harari đưa ra những lời giải thích khá dễ hiểu cho những vấn đề phức tạp, và cho người đọc một cái nhìn toàn cảnh, mới mẻ và sâu sắc đối với lịch sử loài người, cũng như dự đoán về sự phát triển tươ Quá quá quá hay. Lâu lâu lắm rồi mới đọc một quyển sách non - fic xuất sắc như vậy. Có thể gọi là kiểu mẫu của thể loại non - fic khoa học viết cho đại chúng, lập luận chặt chẽ, dẫn chứng phong phú, giả thiết thuyết phục, vừa trí tuệ vừa hài hước, đọc mà hầu như không thể rời mắt được vì quá hấp dẫn. Harari đưa ra những lời giải thích khá dễ hiểu cho những vấn đề phức tạp, và cho người đọc một cái nhìn toàn cảnh, mới mẻ và sâu sắc đối với lịch sử loài người, cũng như dự đoán về sự phát triển tương lai của nhân loại. Kèm theo rất nhiều dẫn chứng nguồn tài liệu tham khảo và lý giải về các sự kiện lịch sử rất thú vị. Một số ý mà mình muốn ghi lại: - Điểm khiến Sapien vượt trội: Ngôn ngữ linh hoạt giúp chúng ta tiếp nhận, chia sẻ, truyền tải một lượng thông tin lớn về thế giới xung quanh và về các mối quan hệ xã hội, phát triển sự hợp tác chặt chẽ và tinh vi. Khả năng tưởng tượng và tạo ra các thực tế tưởng tượng (hay kiểu hư cấu pháp lý như các công ty, các dân tộc, tôn giáo, nhân quyền...) cho phép nhiều người lạ hợp tác hiệu quả với nhau. Với kỹ năng hợp tác, Sapiens sớm vượt xa tất cả các loài người và động vật khác. - Sự xuất hiện của con người cùng lúc với sự biến mất của rất nhiều loài sinh vật khác trên nhiều phần của trái đất. - Người săn bắn hái lượm có thể đã hạnh phúc hơn nhiều so với con cháu hiện đại của mình :))). - Cách mạng nông nghiệp là sự lừa dối lớn nhất của lịch sử, dem đến cho con người cuộc sống khó khăn, ít phong phú và hiếm thỏa mãn hơn trước. Việc thuần hóa cây trồng và động vật để lại một cái giá đắt đỏ. Cuộc cách mạng này biến loài vật và cây cỏ từ vị trí bình đẳng trong cuộc sống trở thành vật sở hữu của loài người. Ông này có một lý luận buồn cười là không phải con người thuần hóa lúa mì mà chính lúa mì mới thuần hóa con người :))). - Du lịch là kết quả của những huyền thoại của chủ nghĩa tiêu thụ được lãng mạn hóa. - Đồng đô la, Mỹ, hay nhân quyền đều được hình thành từ những trật tự tưởng tượng liên chủ quan. Cái ý này rất hay. - Sự lên ngôi của Đế Chế toàn cầu. - Các tôn giáo là những hệ thống quy chuẩn và giá trị con người được xây dựng dựa trên niềm tin vào một trật tự siêu nhiên (trật tự này phải mang tính chất phổ quát và truyền giáo). Có nhiều quan điểm về tôn giáo khá thú vị, nhất là ví dụ và lý giải về đạo Phật. - Khoa học hiện đại dựa trên nền tảng là sự ngu dốt, chúng ta không biết gì về mọi thứ xung quanh. - Người Châu Âu vượt trội vì họ tham vọng chinh phục kiến thức và chinh phục lãnh thổ, sự tham lam vô độ muốn khám phá và chinh phục. Haiz nhiều quá, tóm lại là rất rất hay, không đọc là uổng.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

    Sapiens was an occasionally interesting but ultimately disappointing read. Where Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel was a transformative investigation of the origins of civilization, Yuval Harari's Sapiens is a divisive, ideologically driven [Cognitive Revolution = Cultural Determinism] which twists data to fit a pre-existing theory. Back of it all, the entire book, is the final chapter where Harari frets about genetic engineering, cyborgs, and AI [artificial intelligence]. Readers, unless c Sapiens was an occasionally interesting but ultimately disappointing read. Where Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel was a transformative investigation of the origins of civilization, Yuval Harari's Sapiens is a divisive, ideologically driven [Cognitive Revolution = Cultural Determinism] which twists data to fit a pre-existing theory. Back of it all, the entire book, is the final chapter where Harari frets about genetic engineering, cyborgs, and AI [artificial intelligence]. Readers, unless committed cultural determinists, will experience a forced and missionary posturing over the course of the book. That said, Sapiens is a fascinating history of humanity from 70,000 BP [Before Present] to the present. Recommended for cultural determinists and those okay with a new book about fear [genetic engineering, cyborgs, and AI] -- though the latter does not appear until the final chapter. The whole point of the book is the final chapter and it is almost certainly vastly overstated. Rating: a generous 3 out of 5 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    To be fair: 2.5 stars, solidly in the middle of a "stinking rotten book" and "exceptionally brilliant". To do as Harari does, I speak only "generally" when I say this is a nice little synopsis of Anthropology One OH One, Physical and Cultural, with a lean towards the Cultural. In Ancient Days, when I was in First Year Anthro, I had two brilliant tutors -- one in each of the sub-disciplines noted above, who led us in wondrous discussions on all the possibilities of humankind, past present and fut To be fair: 2.5 stars, solidly in the middle of a "stinking rotten book" and "exceptionally brilliant". To do as Harari does, I speak only "generally" when I say this is a nice little synopsis of Anthropology One OH One, Physical and Cultural, with a lean towards the Cultural. In Ancient Days, when I was in First Year Anthro, I had two brilliant tutors -- one in each of the sub-disciplines noted above, who led us in wondrous discussions on all the possibilities of humankind, past present and future. During those tutorial classes we engaged in discussions to far out-rank anything that Harari puts forth in this little notebook. In fact, Harari may have been the studious little fellow sitting at the back of the room, scribbling furiously, while most of the others participated in animated and enthusiastic dialogue. Nonetheless, it is good to note that subsequent generations will have this handy little cahier to refer to, now and again, when they lose their way, anthropologically-speaking. NB: Try as she might, my GR friend Lisa has not managed to eradicate the Irony And Sarcasm Affliction with which I have struggled all my life, ab ovum. 'Tis arrogance in the first place to write a brief history of humankind, and so I can only surmise that it is done most ironically. Even so, the story manages to get certain things wrong, at its most basic, and indulges in wild flights of fancy at its most preposterous. It's all in his prerogative to do so, and in mine to rage against it, once it's been put forth in the world. The book is very well written and his thought processes are most interesting, at times, but it is nothing that should shake the stage by its entrance into the book world. One can reduce Harari's argument to one main thesis: that human culture is an invention. STOP THE PRESSES. I cannot fathom such an astounding, and outstanding, premise. Or, as Homer Simpson might have been heard to mutter on occasion, "Duh." Can you imagine having the audacity to write a ground-breaking book on the premise that human achievement is of {our} own invention? Why has not the world stood still, to take pause, and absorb the magnitude of that? I take a bit more issue than I (normally) do with such works only because I have viewed this author's website and it seems to me that Dan Brown could have taken lessons in promotional advertising when releasing his Da Vinci Code. Lots of hype and hyperbole. All promotion and propaganda: there doesn't seem to be much substance, much like the book. A nice story, if you missed the first weeks of Anthro 101. Too much ego here, too little substance. Can hardly wait to ignore the next book: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Now if that doesn't speak of arrogance, I can't imagine what does. “… man, proud man, Dressed in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he’s most assured, His glassy essence, like an angry ape, Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven As make the angels weep.” (Measure For Measure)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Objectively this might book might deserve a higher rating. But subjectively it was a disappointment for me. Were my expectations too high? No, that’s not it. It’s the overall style and presentation that didn’t work for me. I flip through my Kindle notes and see things like “weak phrasing”, “not convincing”, “author has a grudge?”, “too easy”, “inaccurate remark” etc. Such things deprived me of reading. You could say the chemistry between me and the text just wasn’t right. Pity! This work is lice Objectively this might book might deserve a higher rating. But subjectively it was a disappointment for me. Were my expectations too high? No, that’s not it. It’s the overall style and presentation that didn’t work for me. I flip through my Kindle notes and see things like “weak phrasing”, “not convincing”, “author has a grudge?”, “too easy”, “inaccurate remark” etc. Such things deprived me of reading. You could say the chemistry between me and the text just wasn’t right. Pity! This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Natan

    There is no doubt that, as a book, it is excellent. The author takes a very complex subject and makes it very clear. He is also not afraid to make controversial statements, which get you thinking about some deep questions. I think my main complaint is that he comes across as a little too sure of his own opinions, stating them as facts. Indeed he himself says that today's scientific culture is one of "ignorance", meaning we know there are things we don't know (just like Donald Rumsfeld), so how ca There is no doubt that, as a book, it is excellent. The author takes a very complex subject and makes it very clear. He is also not afraid to make controversial statements, which get you thinking about some deep questions. I think my main complaint is that he comes across as a little too sure of his own opinions, stating them as facts. Indeed he himself says that today's scientific culture is one of "ignorance", meaning we know there are things we don't know (just like Donald Rumsfeld), so how can he present various cosmological theories as indisputable facts?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena

    Once in a while I like to challenge myself and read something that wouldn't be my usual genre. Sapiens fits that bill perfectly. I haven't got that much interest in anthropology but I do want to educate myself more in that field and I feel that I learnt a lot from reading it. Intelligent, very well-written, engaging and definitely thought-provoking. Not everyone will agree with Harari's take on things but I enjoyed it and will read more of his books in the future.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    A friend of mine at work recommended I read this during the week – and it is hard not being struck by the odd coincidence of that. Not so much him recommending a book to me, he’s done that before, but this book is very similar to The Patterning Instinct and I only read that a week or so ago. And that’s odd too, since it is years since I’ve read a book on this theme, despite it being a bit of a favourite at one time. So, reading two books on much the same topic, covering lots and lots of the same A friend of mine at work recommended I read this during the week – and it is hard not being struck by the odd coincidence of that. Not so much him recommending a book to me, he’s done that before, but this book is very similar to The Patterning Instinct and I only read that a week or so ago. And that’s odd too, since it is years since I’ve read a book on this theme, despite it being a bit of a favourite at one time. So, reading two books on much the same topic, covering lots and lots of the same ground, and in quick succession, recommended by completely different sources all seems strange to me. If you are tossing up whether or not to read this one, I would probably recommend reading The Patterning Instinct instead. Not least because, I think it covers the non-Western philosophies and spiritual traditions it discusses much more on their own terms than this one does. It also covers them in ways that make you feel, even though the Patterning’s author provided merely a thumbnail sketch of each, that it is a sketch of the philosophy itself. This one made me feel I was being presented an ‘example’ rather than a ‘sketch’ – with the history of humans being presented much more as a kind of story that leads to us in the West as the culmination. That is, I came away from tins one thinking of Said’s Orientalism, feeling that this was a white guy explaining other-people’s-cultures – which might even have been true of the patterning book too, but that one felt more inclusive. I want to say ‘objective’ but that’s probably not the right word. The patterning book was, even in its title, a bit of a dig at Pinker – whereas, this one pays him homage repeatedly throughout. And that is interesting here, since we are seeing essentially the same ‘data’ being used to justify significantly different conclusions in the two books. So, in that sense, I really didn’t come away from reading these two books in quick succession feeling it was a waste of time. I do understand that you might not want to read both of them together – although, I feel like I’ve read them in the way that an ex-Australian Prime Minister used to collect various conductors’ interpretations of Mahler Symphonies. The benefit of reading both has been that I got to see ‘evidence’ from the past, even when it is pretty much the exact same evidence, being used to justify significantly different conclusions. Obviously enough, I would recommend the Patterning book because it more closely corresponds with my prejudices – something that would be hardly surprising, I guess. But that said, I would also recommend it because I think it presents the material in more depth and in ways that are likely to provide you (and maybe even provoke you) with more insight into the complexities of the material too. The author of that one remains clear and accessible, despite the complexities of the material presented – something this one is too, by the way, it just I didn’t quite feel this one was as comprehensive – so the clarity here was also a function of the simpler presentation of the material. I found a lot of the last of this to be – well, a bit too Pinker for my tastes as well. This happened a couple of times throughout – for instance, there is a bit early on where he discusses males and aggression and their hormones and the genetic selection that encouraged it, and so on – and since I have just finished reading Fine’s T-Rex book on all this, that section proved a bit of a cringe. The bits at the end where science is proposed as being about to swoop down and save the day (and look, I know I’ve making a bit of a strawman of his argument here, but too not much of a strawman) left me cold, to be honest. My problem with the promise that ‘human ingenuity will triumph in the end’ is that, well, maybe it will, but betting the house on something that simply can’t be a sure thing seems a little reckless to me. Particularly when all life on earth might be wagered on the other side of the bet. I’m not much of a betting man, so perhaps I’m too cautious. But then, maybe we should be a little more cautious with this kind of gamble, even if we end up laughing at how overly cautious proved to be while we are looking back from the glorious future that is always promised us. It’s just that some scientists believe that if global warming proves to be as bad as they think it is going to be, the total population of people on the planet could end up being about half a billion people – which means that about 7 billion people will be in excess to requirements and so will have to die one way or another. Bits of this were really very good – I’m definitely not saying ‘don’t read this book under any circumstances’ – not in the least, but if you’ve read neither of these two books and only plan to read one – read the other one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Arnab Paul

    বই রিভিউঃ কিছু কিছু বই পড়ার পর চিনতা করার ধরণ পালটে যায়। Yuval Noah Harari'র A Brief History of Humankind:Sapiens পড়ার পর এমনটাই মনে হল। পরায় সাড়ে চারশো পৃষঠার বইটিতে মানুষের আবিরভাব,বুদধিবৃততিক বিকাশ , কৃষিবিপলব , সভযতা ও ধরমের পরবাহ, পরযুকতিবিপলব থেকে একেবারে অদূর ভবিষযতের মানুষের কথা (আদৌ মানুষ থাকবো কিনা ততদিনে,নাকি ইতোমধযে অনযকিছু হয়ে যাবো?) পরযায়করমে আলোচিত হয়েছে।ঝরঝরে লেখার সটাইল, গলপে গলপে মানুষের ইতিহাস বরণনা। পৃথিবীর গোড়ার ইতিহাস, সভযতা, ধরমতততব, রাজনৈতিক ইতিহাস, কলোনিয়াল যুগ, অরথনীতির ব বই রিভিউঃ কিছু কিছু বই পড়ার পর চিন্তা করার ধরণ পালটে যায়। Yuval Noah Harari'র A Brief History of Humankind:Sapiens পড়ার পর এমনটাই মনে হল। প্রায় সাড়ে চারশো পৃষ্ঠার বইটিতে মানুষের আবির্ভাব,বুদ্ধিবৃত্তিক বিকাশ , কৃষিবিপ্লব , সভ্যতা ও ধর্মের প্রবাহ, প্রযুক্তিবিপ্লব থেকে একেবারে অদূর ভবিষ্যতের মানুষের কথা (আদৌ মানুষ থাকবো কিনা ততদিনে,নাকি ইতোমধ্যে অন্যকিছু হয়ে যাবো?) পর্যায়্ক্রমে আলোচিত হয়েছে।ঝরঝরে লেখার স্টাইল, গল্পে গল্পে মানুষের ইতিহাস বর্ণনা। পৃথিবীর গোড়ার ইতিহাস, সভ্যতা, ধর্মতত্ত্ব, রাজনৈতিক ইতিহাস, কলোনিয়াল যুগ, অর্থনীতির বিকাশ, ভৌত ও জীববিজ্ঞানের এমন অপূর্ব সমন্বয় আসলেই চমৎকার।মানুষের বিকাশের প্রতিটা পর্যায় কেন হল এবং কীভাবে, এই ঢঙে পুরো বইটির যাত্রা। সারবর্ণনা না করে আগ্রহ উদ্দীপনের জন্য কিছু প্রসঙ্গের অবতারণ করে যাই। ****কখনো কি প্রশ্ন এসেছে আমাদের মনে যে; আমাদের আশপাশের সব পশুপাখির-ই একই প্রজাতির আলাদা জাত আছে,(যেমন কুকুরের অ্যালসেশিয়ান,হাউন্ড ইত্যাদি) আমাদের মানুষের এরকম আছে কি? উত্তর-- ছিল, প্রায় এক লক্ষ বছর আগেও পৃথিবীতে কমপক্ষে ছয় প্রজাতির মানুষ বিচরণ করত। Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalenis, Homo rudolfensis ইত্যাদি।কালের বিবর্তনে আমাদের জাতভাই/বোনেরা হারিয়ে গেছে,কালের বিবর্তনে কথাটিও যথেষ্ট গা-ঝাড়া মন্তব্য,ধারণা করা হয় এদের নিশ্চিহ্নকরণের পেছনে আমাদের H. Sapiens পূর্বসূরিদেরও হাত আছে. Replacement theory অনুযায়ী মধ্য আফ্রিকা থেকে Sapiens যখন ইউরোপের দিকে ধাবিত হয়,neanderthalenisis এর সাথে যুদ্ধে অপরাপর প্রজাতির সবাইকে গণহত্যা করা হয়!(সামান্য বর্ণভেদ,ভাষা,ধর্মভিন্নতার কারণে প্রজাতিহত্যাটা তাহলে আমাদের মজ্জাগতই) Interbreeding theory মতে,কিছু প্রজাতির সাথে আন্তঃমিলনে মানুষ বিবর্তিত হয়,অধুনা গবেষণায় দেখা গেছে খুব কম মাত্রায় হলেও বিভিন্ন মহাদেশের মানুষের মাঝে erectus,neanderthalenis প্রভৃতি প্রজাতির এর DNA'র সাথে মিল রয়েছে। **** পরিচিত একটা প্রাণী ধরা যাক। বাছুর, জন্মের ক'ঘন্টার মধ্যেই লাফাতে পারে।তেমনি কুকুর বিড়ালসহ প্রাণিজগতের প্রায় সকল প্রাণির সদ্যপ্রসূত শিশুই জন্মের অল্প সময়ের মধ্যে চলনসই ক্ষমতাপ্রাপ্ত হয়; একমাত্র ব্যতিক্রম মানুষ। এর কারণটা কী? আদ্দিকালে মানুষের পূর্বমাতাও এমন সাব্যস্তর সন্তান জন্ম দিত,কিন্তু যখন আস্তে আস্তে মানুষ দুপায়ে হাঁটতে শুরু করল তখন শরীরের ভরবিন্যাসের পরিবর্তন হল, সবল হাতের ওপর চাপ কমে ,বাড়ল সেটা কোমরের ওপর।হাঁটার সুবিধার জন্য প্রশস্ত কোমর ও নিতম্ব ছোট হয়ে আসতে লাগল,ফলে Birth canal-ও ছোট হতে থাকল।এদিকে বুদ্ধিবৃত্তিকবিকাশ চলছে সমানতালে,মস্তিষ্কের আকারও শুরু করল বড় হওয়া। সরু Birth canal এ তুলনামূলক বৃহৎ মস্তিষ্কওলা বড় মাথার মানবসন্তান জন্ম দিতে গিয়ে বেড়ে গেল মাতৃমৃত্যুহার। তখন থেকেই প্রাকৃতিক নির্বাচন অনুসারে,মানবমাতা তুলনামূলক ইম্‌ম্যাচ্যুর এবং ছোটমাথার সন্তান জন্ম দিতে শুরু করল!এই 'ইম্‌ম্যাচুর' হয়ে জন্ম নেয়াই পরিবার,বন্ধন,মানবসমাজ তথা সভ্যতা সৃষ্টির মূল প্রেরণা! **** ৪৫০০০ বছর আগে মানুষজন আফ্রিকা থেকে ছড়িয়ে যেতে শুরু করল নানা মহাদেশে,অস্ট্রেলিয়া, অ্যামেরিকায়। কিন্তু কীভাবে তখনকার প্রযুক্তিবিহীন মানুষের পক্ষে এত বড় মহাসাগর পাড়ি দেয়া সম্ভব হল? এপ্রশ্নটির উত্তর জানা নেই এখনো! **** ৩০ হাজার বছর আগের মাত্র কয়েকলক্ষ Sapiens আজকে এসে দাঁড়িয়েছে প্রায় ৭ বিলিয়নে।কৃষিবিপ্লবের পর থেকে শুরু এর বৃদ্ধি,ক্রমাগত বেড়েই চলছে অনিয়ন্ত্রিতভাবে। এই ক্রমবর্ধমান মানুষের জন্য প্রকৃতি যে অমূল্য খেসারত দিচ্ছে তা কি আমরা খেয়াল করে দেখছি? একটা আধুনিক খামারের কথাই ধরা যাক।সন্তান জন্ম দেবার কিছুদিন পরই গাভী থেকে বাছুরকে আলাদা করে নেয়া হয়,দুধ দেয়া হয় শুধু যতোটুকু বেড়ে ওঠার জন্য দরকার, এপর্যন্তই। যদি এঁড়ে বাছুর হয় তবে নেয়া হয় মিট ফার্মে,আর বকনা হলে একই প্রক্রিয়া চলতে থাকে ওখানেই। এবার আসি মিট ফার্মে। ঠিক যতোটকু জায়গা লাগে দাঁড়ানোর জন্য লাগে ঠিক ততোটুকুই বরাদ্দ একটা গরুর জন্য,একটা গরু তার সমজাতির আরেকটির গায়ে গা ঘেঁষে পাশে দাঁড়াতে পারে ঠিক তখনই যখন তাকে হত্যার জন্য নিয়ে যাওয়া হয়!এই স্থান-আবদ্ধতা শুধু 'স্পেস ইকোনমি'র জন্য নয়, বরং নড়তে দিলে মাংসপেশী শক্ত হয়ে যাবে,ফলে মাংসের মান কমে যাবে সেই জন্যে! একটি বড় মুরগির হ্যাচারিতে এমন লক্ষাধিক পুরুষ ছানা ও 'ইমপাফ্রেক্ট' স্ত্রী ছানা যাস্ট আবর্জনায় ছুঁড়ে ফেলে মারা হয় প্রতি বছর!অথচ যেকোন পশুপাখির প্রজন্মান্তরের বিকাশে গুরুত্বপূর্ণ সাইকোলজিক ইম্প্যাক্ট আছে। লেখক বইয়ে হ্যারি হ্যারল্ড নামের এক অ্যামেরিকান সাইকোলজিস্টের বিখ্যাত বানরের মাতৃদুগ্ধপানের পরীক্ষা দিয়ে বিষয়টি ব্যাখ্যা করেছেন। লক্ষ লক্ষ বছরের বিবর্তনের মাধ্যমে যে নিয়মে প্রকৃতি পশুপাখিদের গড়ে তুলেছে,মাত্র কয়েকশ বছরের 'মানবিক' কর্মকাণ্ডে তার জোরপূর্বক ব্যতিক্রম নিশ্চয়ই খুব ভাল ফল বয়ে আনবে না! একবিংশ শতাব্দীতে এসে বৈশিষ্ট্য সংরক্ষণের অধিকার বর্ণ-ধর্মভেদে সকল শ্রেণির মানুষের জন্য উচ্চারিত হতে পারলে কেন প্রাণি-অধিকার এর কথা উঠবেনা, একমাত্র আমরা খাদ্যচক্রের শীর্ষে উঠে আসতে পেরেছি বলেই? **** বইয়ের শেষদিকে আলোচিত হয়েছে মানবজাতির প্রজন্মান্তরের এই পথচলার উদ্দেশ্য নিয়ে, 'কেন বেঁচে আছি আমরা'।শুধু কি 'Chance of a million' এ আমরা আজকে এই প্রশ্ন ভাবার মতো সময়ে আসতে পেরেছি এই জন্যে? এর পরে কী আছে আমাদের জন্যে? পারলৌকিক সত্ত্বায় বিশ্বাস-অবিশ্বাস নির্বিশেষে, পৃথিবীর সকল ধর্ম ও সংস্কার শেষতক একটা Holy grail (কিংবা মুলো) দেখায় আমাদের সামনে, তা হচ্ছে সুখ(Happiness)।বইপোকারা পড়ে সুখী, পরিব্রাজকেরা ভ্রমণে, হিটলার 'নিম্নতরমানবজাতি' ইহুদি নিধনে আবার মাদার তেরেসা মানব সেবায়। সবার ঐকান্তিক উদ্দেশ্য ঐ সুখ।এখন প্রশ্ন আসে সুখের কারণ কী? আদিম সমাজের শিকারিরা ম্যাম্‌থ শিকার করে পুরো গোত্রের খাবার নিশ্চিত করে যে উল্লাস প্রকাশ করতো, এই আধুনিক প্রযুক্তির যুগে কর্পোরেট চাকরি শেষে এক হাতে কফিমগ আর হাতে টিভি-রিমোট নিয়ে চ্যানেল ওল্টাতে ওল্টাতে কি আমরা সে সুখ খুঁজে পাই? উত্তর যদি না হয়, তবে আমাদের আদিপুরুষেরাই কি সুখী?বুদ্ধমতে, সুখ তখনই আসে যখন আমরা জাগতিক সকল সুখ-দুখের বিষয় নিয়ে নির্বিকার হতে পারি, অর্থাৎ নির্বাণ লাভ।লটারি জিতে,পদোন্নতি পেয়ে জীবনশেষে সবাই সুখী এমনটা বলা যায়না কোনভাবেই। এমন কোন ধরণের পরিসংখ্যান আমরা এখনো তৈরি করতে পারিনি যাতে নির্ণয় করা যাবে, সবার জন্য অর্থ কিংবা ভালোবাসাই জীবনে আনবে সুখ। আর্থসামাজিক দৃষ্টিকোণ থেকে এই প্রশ্নের আলোচনা বড় গোলমেলে, আমরা তাই এবার জৈবরাসায়নিক দৃষ্টিকোণ থেকে দেখার চেষ্টা করি বিষয়টা। সবসুখের আল্টিমেট প্রতিক্রিয়া হচ্ছে আমাদের কিছু নার্ভ,সিনাপ্স,নিউরনের বিশেষ স্টিমুলেশন, যা serotonin Oxycontin,dopamine প্রভৃতি hormone দিয়ে প্রভাবিত।বোঝার সুবিধার জন্য এভাবে ধরে নেই, প্রত্যেকটা মানুষ একটা জৈবরাসায়নিক সিস্টেম বহন করে, যার সর্বোচ্চ ও সর্বনিম্ন সীমা আছে। একজন হাসিখুশি মা্নুষের কথা ভাবা যাক, সিস্টেমে যার মান ৬ থেকে ৯, গড়ে ৭।সে পরীক্ষার খাতায় প্রায় কিছুই না লিখে এসেও হাসতে হাসতে স্ক্রিপ্ট জমা দিয়ে বেরোয়,আবার যার গড়মান ৪ সে একটা প্রশ্ন ছেড়ে এসেও হা-হুতাশ করে রাতভর।কম Happiness Factor এর মানুষদের জন্য তাজমহল বানিয়ে দিলেও সে 'সুখ'টা অনুভব করতে পারেনা, আবার রাস্তার গরিব শিশুকে সামান্য খাবার দিলেই তার জন্য হতে পারে সেটা পৃথিবীর সকল সুখ।হাজার বছর আগের একজন মানুষ মাটির তৈরি ঘরে থাকতে পারছে,এই সুখে তার যে পরিমান serotonin ক্ষরিত হত,হতে পারে তা আজকের অট্টালিকাবাসীর চাইতে বেশি! অর্থাৎ, সুখের ক্ষেত্রে ফ্যাক্টরটা মানুষের জৈবরাসায়নিক সিস্টেমে, আর কিছুতে নয়! বইটির শেষ লাইনটি আগামী দিনের আসুরিক কিংবা ঐশ্বরিক ক্ষমতাবান মানুষদের নিয়ে, Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?"

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mümin

    -Sana bir sorum olacak: Nasıl oldu da bir bilim kitabı ülkemizde haftalarca çok satanlar listesinde kendine yer bulabildi? +Çok basit. İyi polisiyeler her zaman çok satar. -Saçmalama lütfen. Bu kitap polisiye değil ki. Hatta kurgu bile diyemeyiz. +Belki de deriz. Şöyle: Şimdi istersen iyi bir polisiyenin özelliklerini düşünelim. İyi bir polisiyede neler vardır söyler misin? -Öldürülen birisi ya da birileri. Bu cinayeti işlediğinden şüphelenilenler. Cinayete dair ipuçları. Akıcı bir anlatım. Merak d -Sana bir sorum olacak: Nasıl oldu da bir bilim kitabı ülkemizde haftalarca çok satanlar listesinde kendine yer bulabildi? +Çok basit. İyi polisiyeler her zaman çok satar. -Saçmalama lütfen. Bu kitap polisiye değil ki. Hatta kurgu bile diyemeyiz. +Belki de deriz. Şöyle: Şimdi istersen iyi bir polisiyenin özelliklerini düşünelim. İyi bir polisiyede neler vardır söyler misin? -Öldürülen birisi ya da birileri. Bu cinayeti işlediğinden şüphelenilenler. Cinayete dair ipuçları. Akıcı bir anlatım. Merak duygusunu kamçılayan bir analiz süreci. +Güzel. Şimdi sana Sapiens'in Sel adlı 4. bölümünden örnek vereyim. Öldürülen: Avustralya'da yaşayan birçok memeli türü. Olağan şüpheliler: İklim değişikliği ve Homo Sapiens. Dedektif rolünde yazar var ve bize katilin hangisi olduğunu kanıtlarıyla gösteriyor. Diğer bölümlerde de aynı şablonu görebilirsin. Mesela avcı-toplayıcı yaşam tarzının katili olarak tarım devrimi, bu cinayeti isteyerek mi işledi yoksa farkında olmadan mı? -Yani bir tür Arthur Conan Doyle işine benziyor diyorsun, ya da Agatha Christie. +Evet kesinlikle onlardan alınan bir miras var ama aslında Georges Simenon tarzı bir polisiye diyebiliriz daha çok. Yani katil kim tartışmasının da ötesinde katilin iç dünyasında gezintiye çıktığımız bir iş. Dostoyevski okumak gibi. İvan Karamazov'un psikolojisi hakkında düşünmek kadar Sapiens'in zihnini incelemek de pek keyifli. -Bu mu yani tüm olay? Bu yüzden mi kasıp kavurdu kitap ortalığı? +Sadece bu değil elbette. Yazarın da eserin içerisinde belirttiği üzere söz konusu insan olduğunda çokça parametre devreye girer. Bizi etkileyen başka yanları da olmalı kitabın. Dili iyi kullanması gibi. Bilimsel bir şeyi anlatırken anlaşılır kalabilmek önemli bir meziyet. Yazar anlattığı şeyleri önce kendisi anlamış görünüyor. Einstein'ın dediği gibi: "Basit bir şekilde anlatamıyorsan, yeterince bilmiyorsun demektir." Bunun yanında kitabı ilgi çekici kılan bir başka nokta ise Umut Sarıkaya tarzından aşina olduğumuz gündelik hayata dair tespitler. Hani şu ben de bunu düşünmüşümdür hep ama yazar gibi ifade edemedim bugüne kadar dediğimiz cümleler var ya. Öyle işte. Bu arada bilimsel bir tarih kitabında bile Umut Sarıkaya aklıma geliyorsa büyük adamdır abi. :) -Tamam tamam boşver şimdi Umut Sarıkaya'yı. Neymiş bu Sapiens'in derdi hocam? Sen onu anlat hele. +Kitaptaki şu cümle olayı özetliyor aslında: "Şehirli orta sınıfın konforlu yaşamındaki hiçbir şey, bir avcı toplayıcının başarılı bir mamut avında hissettiği saf coşku ve heyecan hissini veremez." -Yani bulunduğumuz yere çok erken geldik diyebilir miyiz? Gidip başka canlıların peşinde koşarak onları öldürmekle falan mı uğraşmak lazım? +Yazar burada bir durum tespiti yapıyor. İçimizdeki canavarı bize tanıtıyor. Zaten iyi bir yazarın yapması gereken de bu değil midir? -Peki kitapta en ilgi çekici bulduğun nokta neydi? +Yazarın determinist tarih anlayışını eleştirdiği bölümde verdiği muazzam bir örnek vardı. Çok zekice bir akıl yürütme. Şöyle: "Yarınki petrol fiyatını yüzde yüz isabetle tahmin edecek bir program yazarsak ne olur? Petrol fiyatı anında bu tahmine göre pozisyon alacak ve bu yüzden de tahminimiz gerçekleşmeyecektir. Eğer şimdiki fiyat, varil başına 90 dolar ise ve bu yanılmaz bilgisayar programı fiyatın yarın 100 dolar olacağını öngörürse tacirler öngörülen artıştan kar etmek için hemen bugünden petrol almaya koşacaktır. Bunun sonucunda da varil başına fiyat ertesi günü beklemek yerine o günden 100 dolara yükselecektir. Peki bu durumda ertesi gün ne olacaktır? Bunu kimse bilemez." -Güzel bir çıkarım gerçekten. İyi de bu kitabın kötü bir tarafı yok mu? Biraz da eleştir şunu. +Aslında bir nokta var evet. Bilim ve kapitalizmi birbirine bağladığı bölümde yazarla hemfikir olmak istemedim açıkçası. Belki haklı, sermaye ve imparatorluklar olmasa, büyük para sahipleri kar elde etmek için rasyonel düşünceye yatırım yapmasa bilimsel devrim hiç olmayabilirdi. Yine de yazarın bu iki kavramı fazla iç içe geçirdiğini düşünüyorum. Kendisinin belirttiği gibi tarih rastlantılarla şekillenebilirse belki de başka bir dünyada yine rasyonel düşünce filizlenme imkanını bulabilirdi, kim bilir. -Kitapla ilgili son bir şey söylemek ister misin? +Evet son olarak kitaptan bir alıntı: "...kültürler tesadüfen ortaya çıkan ve ortaya çıktıktan sonra etkilenen herkesten faydalanan zihinsel parazitlerdir."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Mirzaali

    کتابی روان که آموختنیهای بسیاری، در عین تقلیلگراییهای آزاردهنده و مؤمنانه، در بر دارد. به طور کلی وقتی هراری «تاریخ» میگوید و تفسیرش میکند، بصیرتهایی به دست میدهد که بدیع و شیرین اند. مشکل کجا ست؟ مشکل سیطرهی عجیب روانشناسی تکاملی بر حوزههای مورد بحث مؤلف است، به خصوصی در فصول اولیهی کتاب نویسنده همهچیز را در قالب نوعی تحول زیستی تفسیر میکند و برای نمونه وقتی همین رویکرد نمیتواند «انقلاب شناختی» هفتادهزار سال پیش را توجیه کند، به سادگی میگوید علت پیدایش ادعاییِ آن تواناییهای ادراکی نویافته نامعلو کتابی روان که آموختنی‌های بسیاری، در عین تقلیل‌گرایی‌های آزاردهنده و مؤمنانه، در بر دارد. به طور کلی وقتی هراری «تاریخ» می‌گوید و تفسیرش می‌کند، بصیرت‌هایی به دست می‌دهد که بدیع و شیرین اند. مشکل کجا ست؟ مشکل سیطره‌ی عجیب روان‌شناسی تکاملی بر حوزه‌های مورد بحث مؤلف است، به خصوصی در فصول اولیه‌ی کتاب نویسنده همه‌چیز را در قالب نوعی تحول زیستی تفسیر می‌کند و برای نمونه وقتی همین رویکرد نمی‌تواند «انقلاب شناختی» هفتادهزار سال پیش را توجیه کند، به سادگی می‌گوید علت پیدایش ادعاییِ آن توانایی‌های ادراکی نویافته نامعلوم است و این‌که پرداختن به این چرایی چندان ضرورتی هم ندارد به همین دلیل وقتی هراری از ظهور ادیان می‌نویسد، کاملا عوامانه چنین می‌کند. از طرف دیگر همین رویکرد در توضیح هنر به کار نمی‌آید و مؤلف ازقضا در این مورد حرفی برای گفتن ندارد، یا شاید به عمد از پرداختن به آن سر باز می‌زند شکل ظاهری، دقت‌نظر و ویراستگی نسخه‌ی فارسی کتاب قابل تحسین است. هیچ‌کجا نثر مترجم دچار سستی نشده و متن کتاب از اول تا آخر بسیار روان به فارسی برگردانده شده است

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