Amazon “About the Author”
- Dr Yuval Noah Harari has a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specialising in World History.
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has become an international phenomenon attracting a legion of fans from Bill Gates and Barack Obama to Chris Evans and Jarvis Cocker, and is published in nearly 40 languages worldwide. It was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller and was in the Top Ten for over six months in paperback.
- His follow-up to Sapiens, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow was also a Top Ten Bestseller and was described by the Guardian as ‘even more readable, even more important, than his excellent Sapiens’.
- The author’s style is to make large claims with less than adequate justification. If you agree with him that is no-doubt fine; less so if you don’t. He’s very “black and white” in what he says. There are end-notes with references, but no audit trail of how the references justify the assertions in the text.
- The book is also very light on historical detail. This is disappointing, as the author is a historian, not an evolutionary biologist, philosopher or sociologist.
- A major claim that runs throughout the book is that all but concrete particulars are “convenient fictions”. So, limited companies do not exist. Nor do nation states and the like.
- Both the assertions in the Laws of Hammurabi and the US Declaration of Independence are myths, though we may prefer the latter to the former. The first claims a hierarchy (superior people, common people and slaves) and the other claims that all are equal, but neither is true, strictly speaking, and “rights” are fictions.
- He seems of the view that those few of us who would briefly exist as hunter-gatherers would be better off in that state. The benefit to humans of the agricultural revolution is that there are more of us. The lives for the majority – both human and domestic animals – go – or maybe went (for most of history) – worse as a result. All that sweat of the brow and worry about the future for humans, and brief brutalised lives for animals in industrial farms.
- He sneers at any thought of some things and practices being “natural”. The use of the mouth for anything other than eating is “unnatural” if anything is.
- He’s perplexed why most societies have been patriarchal, and rejects any suggestion that it was due to males being stronger and more aggressive, or women being preoccupied with child-rearing. He contrasts women’s roles and opportunities in ancient and modern Greece and notes that there has been no biological change in the last 3,000 years.
- There’s enthusiastic support for “cognitive dissonance”. Wanting your ducks in a row is a symptom of a “dull mind” apparently.
- To be continued …
In-Page Footnotes ("Harari (Yuval Noah) - Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind")
- These are – for now – just jottings as I’ve not finished the book.
- I intend to analyse the book in more detail once I’ve read it all and seen where it’s heading.
- I may need to read the follow-up volume before so doing.
- Vintage; First edition (30 April 2015)
- Recommended by Naomi
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)