Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

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A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

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What is the plot of the Sapiens novel?

Sapiens (2015) is a documentary that follows the history of our species, beginning with the emergence of our most ancient predecessors and ending with our present position in the contemporary, technological era. As a kind of hairless, tailed ape, how have we managed to take full control of the whole planet? These notes will show you the changes and patterns that have enabled Homo sapiens to climb to the top of the evolutionary food chain.

Who has read the book Sapiens?

  • Those who are interested in how our species – Homo sapiens – came to dominate the planet.
  • Those who want to know how people ended up living in a capitalist-dominated global community.
  • Anyone who is interested in learning about the origins of human civilization and culture.

Who is Yuval Noah Harari, and what is his background?

Yuval Noah Harari is a professor of global and military history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he has worked for more than a decade. Sapiens is his first worldwide best-selling novel, which has been translated into more than 60 different languages.

What exactly is in it for me? Immerse yourself in the 300,000-year adventure that mankind has taken.

Spread both of your arms out as wide as you possibly can, and let the space between your two hands symbolize the history of the Earth's evolution. What proportion of this distance will be occupied by human history? Maybe one arm all the way up to the elbow? Do you need a hand? Is it a finger? This is not even close. The use of a strong microscope would be required if one wished to observe the amount of space occupied by humans. Although we have only been in existence for a very short period of time, we have accomplished a great deal in that little time. No other species has come close to achieving the level of dominance over the world that humans have. So, how has all of this been made possible? In these notes, we will look at some of the most important events in human history, ranging from the formation of language to the invention of money, that have shaped who we are as a species. Find out in these notes why farming really made people worse off; why writing was created to track down defaulted obligations; and why the past few decades have been the most peaceful in recorded history.

Despite the fact that they were not the first humans, Homo sapiens eventually displaced all other human species on the planet.

As a species, we humans are very unique: we totally control the earth, and we have even ventured beyond the planet's limits in order to explore, and maybe occupy, space. What has enabled us to do so much? In order to discover it, we must travel all the way back to the beginning, to the beginning of our human species' development. Humans originally emerged in East Africa approximately 2.5 million years ago, descended from a species of giant apes known as Australopithecus. Humans have been around since. Some of the earliest humans, such as Homo Ruludolfensis and Homo erectus, ultimately moved out of East Africa in search of more favorable conditions. As a result of their adaptation to these new environments, they went on to develop into even more kinds of Homo, including Homo neanderthalensis, which lived in Europe and Asia.

Modern humans, also known as Homo sapiens, did not initially emerge on the scene until 300,000 years ago. This new type of human was not especially remarkable in any way. While they had big brains, walked upright, utilized tools, and were extremely sociable, these characteristics were also shared by the other species of human beings. For example, Neanderthals hunted big animals and utilized fire long before the advent of Homo sapiens, indicating that they were advanced hunters. Nonetheless, despite the fact that Homo sapiens had no distinguishing characteristics, they thrived and expanded across the world, whereas all other human species perished. Why? There are two possible explanations for this: It is hypothesized by the Interbreeding Theory that Homo sapiens started mating with other human species, most notably with Homo neanderthalensis, and that this resulted in the species eventually merging into one. There is evidence to support this theory: the DNA of contemporary Europeans includes between 1 and 4 percent of Neanderthal DNA, as well as DNA from other previous human species, according to various estimates.

While the Replacement Theory contends that Homo sapiens drove other human species into extinction by taking away their food sources or by killing them violently, the Evolutionary Theory contends that Homo sapiens pushed other human species into extinction because of their slightly superior skills and technology. So, which of the hypotheses do you think has the most chance of being correct? The truth is that both theories are likely to be true to a degree: Homo sapiens most likely pushed other species to extinction while also interbreeding with them at the same time.

The ability to communicate in complex language provides enormous benefits to Homo sapiens, allowing them to spread and flourish.

What, in your opinion, is the most eloquent example of the idea of human sophistication? The solution, according to many, is language. Even when compared to the communication of other animals, the language of humans is extremely sophisticated and complicated. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the development of complex languages was one of the most significant elements in the spread of Homo sapiens across the world. Let us have a look at why this is the case. Human beings are social creatures that live in groups or communities. People within such groups may communicate freely because language enables information to flow freely between them. As a result, vital lessons – about food, predators, or even dangerous, untrustworthy individuals within the group – can be passed down from generation to generation. For example, a person who has discovered a large number of fruit trees may communicate with others by utilizing language to describe the location. Someone who has found a predator's hiding spot may alert the rest of the group to stay away from that area. In both instances, the language of the community provides a significant benefit.

However, the most important benefit of language is that it aids in the creation of a shared understanding among members of a community, which is what gives humans their distinct advantage over other animals. There are other creatures, such as bees, that can collaborate in huge numbers, but their collaboration is extremely strict and does not allow for much flexibility. Changes in their surroundings, such as new dangers or opportunities, have little impact on their ability to adapt to their social order. Some species, such as chimpanzees, are more adaptable than others in their ability to collaborate and adjust to the changes they detect. However, they can only work in small groups since, in order to cooperate, they must first get well acquainted with the other people, which is not possible in big groups.

Homo sapiens is the only animal that has the ability to collaborate in a flexible and large-scale manner. In part, this is due to the fact that language allows us to not only communicate facts about the physical world, but also to debate abstract concepts such as gods, history, and human rights. These beliefs, referred to by the author as "common myths," are entirely fabricated by the human mind and are completely fictitious. They are the foundation of human civilization, and they are precisely what enables us to collaborate in big groups even when we do not know everyone individually. Communities of people are formed as a result of the dissemination of shared beliefs about religion, identity, and freedom. Early Homo sapiens were grouped together into small groups of about 150 people. However, it is conceivable to exponentially expand the size of our communities via the use of language and shared myths: from villages to cities, from cities to a country's states, and from a nation's states to the global society of contemporary times, to name a few examples.

During the Agricultural Revolution, people transitioned from foragers to farmers, which resulted in an exponential increase in the global human population.

For most of our evolutionary history, Homo sapiens has maintained a nomadic existence. The overwhelming majority of our forefathers and foremothers spent their lives hunting for animals and collecting plants. Rather than staying in one place, they traveled to wherever there was enough food to eat. However, about 12,000 years ago, everything began to shift. What we refer to as the Agricultural Revolution occurred when Homo sapiens ceased depending exclusively on hunting and gathering and started growing crops and domesticating animals, a process known as agrarianization. Almost all of humanity has adapted to farming in the last 10,000 years or so, marking a truly dramatic shift in the course of history. And one that is a little perplexing. Farming may be taken for granted now, but it is difficult to understand why our forefathers preferred it over the hunter-gatherer way of life in the first place. For starters, agriculture requires much more time in terms of labor than other industries. Unlike a hunter-gatherer, who must spend about four hours gathering adequate food, a farmer must labor from dawn to dark in his fields to provide for his family.

Then there is the question of the overall quality of the cuisine on offer. Early agriculture supplied our forefathers with only a limited variety of grains, such as wheat, that were both difficult to digest and deficient in minerals and vitamins. When compared to the great range of meat, nuts, fruits, and fish that a hunter-gatherer would be able to consume, So, what is the reason for the change? There are two main reasons for this: As a first step, the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture was a long and gradual one; with each passing generation, the process grew more deeply entrenched in society, and by the time historians discovered the negative aspects of farming, it was too late to turn back. Second, agriculture had one significant advantage over other forms of production: it was much more efficient. Farmers could cultivate a large number of food plants on a small plot of land. As a result of the rise in food supply, human civilizations have been able to support much larger populations. As a result, the population of Homo sapiens has skyrocketed.

However, the rise in the population posed a problem: how would civilization deal with such a large increase in the number of people? That is what we will be talking about in the following few notes.

In order to ease commerce between vast groups, mankind devised the inventions of money and written communication.

Prior to the agricultural revolution, life was pretty straightforward. To supplement your meat supply, you might simply ask your neighbors to share any excess meat they may have in their homes. More often than not, they will reassure you that if they ever have a problem in the future, you will be there to assist them. Nonetheless, as agriculture advanced, this favor economy evolved into a bartering system. Why? Agriculture allows individuals to produce enough food for their families and for the rest of society because of its efficiency. Some individuals have created new crafts, like blacksmithing and weaving, as a result of no longer being under continuous pressure to get the next meal. The only way for them to obtain food was to exchange their completed products with farmers who were in desperate need of them (a knife, for example, or a shovel). However, this bartering economy proved to be inadequate very quickly as well.

As the trade market has continued to expand, it has become more difficult to locate someone whose products you want and who wants your commodities in exchange. In the case of a farmer, what would you do if you were attempting to trade your knife for some juicy pork in exchange for his knife but he already had a surplus of knives on hand? Consider the scenario in which he needed a knife but did not yet have a pig to kill. While he may pledge to provide you with a pig in the future, how do you know he will follow through on his commitment? It was in reaction to such difficulties that Homo sapiens, about 3,000 BC, invented writing and the first form of money. Mesopotamian civilizations, such as the Sumerians, were the first to do so. They started carving people's transactions on clay tablets using simple economic symbols in order to save the information required for complicated deals, in order to save the information needed for complex trades. They also began utilizing barley money as a regular form of payment about the same period.

Using this method, you could pay the pig farmer with a currency that could be readily converted into anything else he may need. Another option is to document the transaction and then hold him to his word when the agreed-upon date comes around.

Imperialism and religion arose in response to the rise of humanity, propelling it toward global unity.

Because of the inventions of writing and money, it has become easier to conduct economic transactions while making economic deception more difficult, as we have just demonstrated. And yet, this did not imply that economies began to operate more smoothly and efficiently as a result of this development. Rather than becoming easier to manage and regulate as they grew, societies and economies became more difficult to govern and regulate. So, what did human civilization do in response to this? In order to control how people acted, they created laws and authority structures to guarantee that people followed the rules. As a result, the earliest hierarchical societies were established, with a monarch or emperor at the apex of the social hierarchy, dominating over everyone else. In spite of the fact that they are today seen as dictatorial and harsh, the monarchs and empires of the past offered a significant amount of political, social, and economic stability. For starters, they established an efficient administration that standardized laws and traditions.

Take, for example, the Hammurabi Code, which was published by the Babylonian King Hammurabi in 1776 BC and contains a compilation of rules. This code was a collection of rules – which were implemented across the whole Babylonian Empire – that governed areas such as taxation, theft, and murder, among others. This set of rules created a common idea of what was permissible and what was not across the empire. People were well aware of the rules and customs that applied to them wherever they went or traded inside the imperial boundaries. For emperors and monarchs to be able to execute their laws, they require people to recognize their authority. This was achieved mainly via the power of religion. Those who believe that the monarch was elevated to the throne by the will of the gods would be much more tolerant of imperial authority than those who do not. By claiming that he had been chosen by the gods to reign over the people of Mesopotamia, King Hammurabi, for example, legitimized his authority and his law.

As empires expanded in size and influence, the faiths they sponsored increased in breadth and influence as well. Imperial authority was successful in consolidating a large number of different ethnic and religious groups into a few mega-cultures, sometimes by coercion, sometimes through gradual assimilation processes.

The scientific revolution brought mankind into the modern era, opening the door for new technologies, empires, and economic development.

Humanity has been a depressing species for the majority of its history. Although most individuals throughout history had faith in themselves, the vast majority also had faith in the might of an all-powerful deity. In addition, since God had complete control over each and every human being, there was no sense of ordinary mortals attempting to make scientific advancements or gain new information. It would have been better if you had just sat back and waited for your predetermined destiny. But it was not until the 16th and 17th centuries that this gloomy, snorting mentality started to shift. A scientific revolution spread across Europe; rather than relying only on God for development, individuals began to consider how they, too, might better society via scientific advancement. ... People have achieved enormous epistemic leaps in fields such as medicine, astronomy, and physics by using the scientific principles of investigation, experimentation, and observation - each discovery contributing to making society a better place to live.

Take, for example, the death rate among children. Since the application of scientific techniques to medicine and public health, the incidence of child mortality has steadily decreased over time. In the past, it was typical for even the richest members of society to lose two or three children to prematurity at the hands of their own parents. Currently, the rate of infant mortality for the whole population is about one per 1,000 individuals. In addition to being helpful to human health, the pursuit of scientific knowledge has been shown to be advantageous to the economy - something that many European governments have been quick to recognize and encourage. Kings and emperors lavished wealth on scientists and explorers in pursuit of fresh ideas and resources that would benefit their own countries. For example, the King of Castile provided funding for Christopher Columbus' illustrious voyage across the Atlantic. A vast American empire rich in precious resources such as gold and silver was awarded to the King as a thank you for his support of the exploration efforts.

Additionally, the British government sent James Cook to explore the unknown Southern Pacific, an effort that resulted in the acquisition of the territories of Australia and New Zealand for the country. When it comes to exploration and scientific innovation, European economies have benefited in both instances. The advances made by Europeans, however, were mostly at the expense of the indigenous people in the area.

The legacy of European imperialism may be seen in today's global society, which places a strong emphasis on the power of capitalism.

We have just recently learned how many European governments have utilized the scientific approach to expand their empires and enhance their revenues, as we have recently found. And it definitely worked: by the nineteenth century, the British Empire alone had conquered more than half of the world's population. The European nations were able to spread their ideas across the whole globe because of their extensive reach. Mega-cultures founded on European standards — whether they be western religion, democracy, or scientific discovery – have supplanted local traditions, cultures, and laws. And, despite the fact that the European empires have long ago passed away, we are still coping with the consequences of our cultural heritage. Capitalism is by far the most important of these now-global cultural standards to exist. People all throughout the globe, thanks in large part to the European empires, believe in the significance and power of money and recognize its relevance.

Most people today, regardless of where they live (whether in Brazil or Bhutan, Canada or Cambodia), live lives that are focused on money and material things. We all want to maximize our earnings or show off our riches via our clothing and technological devices. The truth is that the strength and reach of global capitalism, aided by scientific advancements, is destroying many other global civilizations, particularly religious traditions. Many religious beliefs have been proven false by modern science. Most people no longer believe that God created the world in seven days; instead, they believe in Darwin's theory of evolution via natural selection, which he developed. As the veracity of religion is put into doubt, the ideology of capitalism rises to the fore. For example, in lieu of the old idea that happiness would come in the hereafter, we now put emphasis on increasing our enjoyment while we are still here on the planet. It follows that we will seek out, purchase, and consume an increasing number of goods and services that are intended to make us happy.

The world has never been more calm as it is now, thanks to globalization.

Globalization is unmistakably on the march forward. However, this has not gone over well with everyone. Critics of globalization assert, among other things, that it is destroying cultural variety and transforming the whole globe into a uniformly homogeneous unit of civilization. In spite of these and other critiques, globalization has a significant benefit: it is contributing to the creation of a more peaceful environment. Modern countries are reliant on one another for their economic well-being. In addition, in today's globalized globe, networks of commerce and investment connect a plethora of different nations together. A conflict or political instability in one region will have ramifications for the rest of the world's economy.

It is as a consequence that virtually all political leaders in the United States, Europe, and Asia have a significant stake in preserving global peace. Moreover, it is effective in the vast majority of cases. The United Nations has declared that no recognized sovereign country has been captured and destroyed since 1945. Simply considering how terribly violent the globe was before the conclusion of the Second World War, helps to illustrate just how calm our globalized world is now. As a result, the twentieth century has been dubbed "the most tranquil century in history." Despite the fact that this may appear unexpected, a simple look back in time reveals that human civilizations have been turning their backs on violence since the agrarian revolution. It has been estimated that, before farming, during the period of hunter-gatherers, 30 percent of all adult men were the victims of murder or manslaughter on a daily or weekly basis. This is in stark contrast to today's globe, when just 1 percent of adult male fatalities are caused by violence. You can tell how far we have come by looking at the pictures.

What, though, is the reason behind this? Because the hierarchical, organized civilizations that arose after the agricultural revolution compelled individuals to follow rules prohibiting murder and violence, which helped to establish stable, functional societies and economies. So, yes, we are living in the most tranquil of times, but let us not get ahead of ourselves. We must constantly be on the lookout for possible causes of conflict, since the breakout of a large-scale worldwide war now would have devastating consequences for mankind on a scale that has never been seen before. Let us take pleasure in our tranquility while also remembering that we must take measures to ensure that it continues.

History is neither good nor evil, and the twists and turns that it takes are essentially unimportant to our subjective well-being now.

This is the last chapter in our trip through the history of Homo sapiens; we have traveled almost 300,000 years, from the savannahs of East Africa to the present-day globalized globe. We now have a better understanding of the broad patterns that have shaped human history, but we have not really spoken about how this has impacted us as individuals as yet. Are we happy today, despite the fact that our health, money, and knowledge have all much improved? Unfortunately, the answer is most likely not yes at the individual level, which is a disappointment. But, after all, why not? Researchers have discovered that although people experience short-term increases in happiness or sorrow, our happiness remains rather constant over the long term. This is supported by surveys that have been developed and evaluated by psychologists. Consider the following scenario: you lose your job and suffer a significant drop in happiness; at the moment, you would believe the terrible feeling would continue forever. Despite this, your levels of happiness will most likely recover to a "normal" level within a few months after experiencing this life-changing experience.

Consider the following historical example: during the French Revolution, the peasants of France were undoubtedly ecstatic at the prospect of winning their independence. However, not long after this monumental occurrence, the ordinary peasant was likely back to his old worries about his spoiled kid or the next crop. Humans presumably developed this delicate balance between complacency and despair to guarantee that they were neither completely incapacitated by a terrible experience nor content with their own achievements to stop seeking greater and better things in their lives. As a result, we are probably not that happy at an individual level. But what about on a broader social scale? As a result of all of the advancements in our standard of living, we must be happier than earlier generations.

It all depends on who you are, really. The vast majority of the wealth produced by human progress has found its way into the wallets of a small group of white males. People outside of this category, whether they are indigenous tribes, women, or people of color, have not seen significant improvements in their lives that are comparable to those in this group. They have been persecuted over and over again by the historical forces of imperialism and capitalism, and it is only now that they are starting to achieve equality.

It is possible that in the future, Homo sapiens may surpass its biological limitations, ultimately being replaced by an entirely new species.

So we know what happened in the past, but what about the future? What will be the consequences of scientific and economic progress in the decades to come? The answer to this question may be found in the research that scientists are already doing. Scientists are presently making significant advancements in areas such as bionic technology and anti-aging technologies, among others. Scientists have achieved significant advancements in the area of bionics, which involves the fusion of human and machine intelligence. Jesse Sullivan, an American electrician who lost both of his limbs in a car accident, for example, was able to get new bionic arms that he could control with his mind and nervous system because of advancements in science. Scientists are also making significant strides forward in the area of anti-aging research. Through genetic manipulation of C. elegans worms, researchers have just discovered that they can quadruple their lives, and they are on the verge of accomplishing the same feat with mice as well. How long do you think it will take for scientists to be able to remove the aging gene from a human being?

Both the effort to reverse the effects of aging and the development of bionic technology are components of the Gilgamesh Project, a massive scientific endeavor to find the secret of everlasting life. So, what is it that is holding us back? For the time being, scientific investigation in these areas is hampered by a variety of legislative limitations based on ethical considerations. However, these impediments can not be maintained indefinitely. If mankind is given even the smallest opportunity to live forever, our desire to achieve this goal will undoubtedly overcome any obstacles in our path. Most likely, we Homo sapiens will alter our bodies in such a way that we will no longer be considered to be Homo sapiens in the not-too-distant future as a result of scientific advancement. Instead, we will evolve into a totally new species that is part biological and half mechanical. That this new species of superhuman will come into being is a foregone conclusion; the only genuine issue is when.

The novel's conclusion is the Sapiens.

The most important message in these notes is: Over the course of 300,000 years, Homo sapiens has progressed from being one of many human species to being the most dominating species to have ever walked the face of the earth. The evolution of human civilization has progressed steadily since the invention of language, eventually resulting in the linked global village that we inhabit today.

Buy book - Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Written by BrookPad Team based on Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

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