Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – Review

Butterfly expressing nature

Human beings as we know aren't actually all the same, in fact there used to be, and still exist human beings of other species. Human beings, the members of the genus 'Homo' have existed for over 2.4 milion years! Our egregious and notorious species, also known as Homo Sapiens, has only existed for a meagre 6% of the 2.4 million years- 6% implies only about 150,000 years. This book also highlights several other species of humans that have gotten extinct over the years; we, the Homo Sapiens have existed only for a small amount of time compared to the actual history of humanity. Yuval Noah Harari has devoted most of this book towards us, the Homo Sapiens, though oblivious to many of our actions we are still much more self conscious in other areas. He not gives us information about our glorious or not so glorious past, but also lays out possible future paths. Noah Harari took no shame in expressing his thoughts with verve and he did so in a uncontentious way.

In the beginning, humans just trottered around with no meaning, then we begin undergroing a series of evolutions:

  1. Cognitive revolution - Around 70,000 years ago, humans had learnt to use external tools to help them in various situations, and began spreading their population across the planet.
  2. Agricultural revolution - Around 11,000 years ago, humans had learnt the concept of agriculture and farming, and began to minimize foraging for food and materials.
  3. Scientific revolution - Around 500 years ago, humans began to explore the various sciences, electricity, light, chemicals, artificial energy sources. This is the time when humans truly started the unveiling of their hidden potential.
  4. Industrial revolution - Around 250 years ago, humans started to use machines to produce their goods, this helped save labour, and distirbute the work load of other activities without reserve.
  5. Bio-technological revolution - Biotechnology includes techniques that use living organisms to alter a product, or develop microorganisms for specific purposes. In other words, this is technically what you would call a real life terminator or cyborg.

The author adds in important events that took place in the history of the Homo Sapiens, notably the rise of languages, religion, currency, rise of nations and industries. Noah Harari uses very engaging phrases to make the reader want to read more, the way he has phrased these sentences is excellent and even you yourself might start thinking on these.

"We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us."

"A Faustian bargain between humans and grains" in which our species "cast off its intimate symbiosis with nature and sprinted towards greed and alienation".

"The agricultural revolution was history's biggest fraud" - He tries to imply that this led to longer work hours, floods, famines, diseases and a disagreeable hirearchy. Noah Harari believes that humans would have done mich better if they were still in the stone age. He ends off with "Modern industrial agriculture might well be the greatest crime in history".

The author is convinces that the basic nature and instincts, the primal behaviour, of the Homo Sapiens has't evolved during the revolutions. Harari states that though our residence and habit of eating has changed, he tell us that in our subconscious, we sitll think we are in the wild. He corroborates this view with our desire for sugar and sweets.

"The leading project of the scientific revolution", the Gilgamesh Project- "to give humankind eternal life" or "amortality". Harari is skeptical and dubious as to how much good that would do towards humanity and all life on Earth as a whole. Humans will start getting unbelievably violent, will be severly impacted by emotions when a loved one passes away; and will end up in the state where the elves saw the mortality of humans a boon. Putting aside all these major points, there is still no assurance that amortality will lead to eternal happiness. The rich become richer, the poor become even more poor; the hierarchy in the society will continute to get more and more rigid, and finally a large section of the community will be isolated.

In Harari's account of the battle of Navarino,from the fact that the British investors stood to lose money if the Greeks lost their war of independence, Harari moves fast: "the bond holders' interest was the national interest, so the British organised an international fleet that, in 1827, sank the main Ottoman flotilla in the battle of Navarino. After centuries of subjugation, Greece was finally free." This highly contradicting ,and also,Greece was not free at that time

Yuval Noah Harari is not a supporter of "modern liberal culture", but he states that liberal humanism is "a religion. It does not deny the existence of God; all humanists worship humanity"

Happiness is a theme that is kept constant throughout Sapiens. This book is extremely intriguing and will capture your attention a few minutes into reading. Though there are a few contradictory ideas by Harari, you will definitely understand the point that he is trying to make, and will do so in a good way

Now every time I look at anything built by humans, I think to myself "How many ecosystem were destroyed to make this", "We live in the original territory of animals, who are we to have the right to chase them away from their homes". Now I always think into a deeper level no matter the topic, I feel obliged to know the truth and try find a solution to any of the many problems created by the Homo Sapiens.

That's all for today! Hope you enjoyed reading this post!