A non-comforting book „Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind“

The book is divided four parts „The cognitive revolution“, „The agricultural revolution“, „The unification of humankind“, and ‚The Scientific Revolution“ and sets off with the statement „100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited earth. Today there is just one.“ That’s a fascinating opening statement gives in a nutshell the intellectual ride it offers.

There are some reviews of the book (e.g.: http://www.theguardian.com/…/sapiens-brief-history-humankin…) that find „…there’s a kind of vandalism in Harari’s sweeping judgments, his recklessness about causal connections, his hyper-Procrustean stretchings and loppings of the data…“. I do not share this view, although some of the author’s appreciation of the history of the last two hundred years are ‚dis-comforting‘. Interesting also that Bill Gates recommends the book for reading and takes his stands with some lines of Harari’s thoughts.

The author of SAPIENS questions habitual ‚paradigms‘ about the cultural evolution of our species (so far) to end with speculations about upcoming changes when humans overcome (their) biological and cultural evolution. All that never is a comforting intellectual program for our/a reckless and narcissist species.

The book was a rewarding reading, in particular by putting many facts and observations – ranging from anthropological / biological insights over discussing the function of religion and money to our mental processes – into a new mutual context. Much I had read elsewhere, so cross-referencing was solid, and the literature list at the end of the book is solid.

New insights brought the last part of the book that was discussing the interwoven development of scientific revolution, capitalist world and imperialism, a receipt what made our species really invasive. The more speculative very last chapter I could have skipped from a history lesson, if it wouldn’t be to think how human evolution may gain momentum if we narrow the gap between ‚living world‘ and ‚engineered world‘.

Putting observations into wider, new context and drawing general associations seems to be the strength of the author, who, and that is a further strength of the book, emphasizes how much our history is about common (subjective) constructs; a feature to which he contributes.

p.s. revised version of my post: https://www.facebook.com/groups/380398525366233/permalink/1003870953018984/


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