Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Category: World
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
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by avatar_of_prometheus   2021-12-10

Because making loose correlations between anecdotal observations is a lot easier than thinking about socioeconomic issues. Because humans are hardwired to be tribal, and most of our self selected tribes are monochromatic. Sapiens, Outliers, and The Tipping Point touch on these flaws in our wetware.

by Mharbles   2021-12-10

Cliff Notes video version of Sapiens (good book)

by Imatros   2021-12-10

I just searched using a string with a couple unique words; specifically, I just searched for the quote "Henceforth [...] engines"

by Moodles   2021-01-16
I recommend anyone who's interested in early humans and human development to read the book Sapiens: I really enjoyed it!
by wallflower   2020-04-22
> but I had no idea about humans 200,000 years ago using tools.

You might be interested in Sapiens.

by LaskerEmanuel   2019-11-17

I have been struggling with the same thing, after years of being what some people might think of as a bit of a workaholic, once I got to “Now I can’t work, what do I do” (After I got done struggling with “Now I can’t work, who am I), this is what I came up with:


Exercise: Everything I have read thus far, highly encourages persons with MS to get as much exercise as they can get. All of the stories I read about MS that make you think “I would like to experience what that person is experiencing” start out with “I got MS, and I thought my life was over, but then I got very serious about sleep, diet, and exercise”) This gentlemen just posted a very nice one on this very subreddit:
One of the challenges for me was as someone who used to be fairly athletic years ago, for me exercise was a way to enjoy the wonders the human body was capable of, and going for a short, shuffling walk at the end of which I was exhausted felt… I don’t know, not great. At that point I went to a talk on MS and one of the doctors that was speaking talked about the importance of exercise, and relayed a series of stories about exercise and MS. One of them was about a gentlemen who had lost the use of everything but his left arm. His words were something like “That arm is one of the most important things going on in my practice, it’s the arm he uses to order food, to facetime with his children…”, and then he went on to describe the stretching and exercise he would do to try to preserve as much function as possible.
Some days of course are better than others, on the good ones I try to get in as much exercise as possible. On the bad ones, well I can do less, but I try to do what I can. One thing that has helped for me is thinking of the MS like a foe. It wants to destroy you, take things away, crippled you (I realize this is silly anthropomorphizing, but I feel like it helps me maintain a good state of mind). On the days I feel good, it makes it easier to go out and do what exercise I can, it feels like I am gaining on my foe. On my bad days, I think “Alright, you got me today, but let’s see how I feel tomorrow, perhaps the MS leaves a hole and I can slip through”. Somehow approaching it this way makes me feel slippery and determined, rather than crippled.


Reading: When I was younger I read a great deal, but it fell off as my career picked up. I got to a point where I would only read a handful of books a year. Now with more time, I have been spending more time with a book. I recently finished Sapiens, and very much enjoyed it: I am now working my way through the histories of Herodotus (and am finding them fascinating):


Watching: The wife and I watch some TV together, and we have both been on history kick. We have been watching some of the great courses, and really enjoying the experience. Some of our favorites: Everything I have seen by Greg Aldrete is good, he seems to conduct creditable scholarship (For example, he calls out when historians disagree on some topic, shares the views of both camps, and THEN shares his thoughts), and he tells a fantastic story. Robert Garland takes moments out of history and works to make them come alive. I would argue that (at least for me) he succeeds spectacularly in this series. The history of food, and history told with an eye to how everything has been shaped by food.
In addition to these, there are countless other good ones. As someone who purchased some great courses in the past (at what were some fairly exorbitant prices even on their sales), I very much like their new subscription model where you pay a fee each month and have access to everything. You can try out a lecture and see if you enjoy the lecturer style.


Gaming: Weirdly, being sick has destroyed a lot of the fun of gaming for me. Before I got sick, gaming was a thing I enjoyed “After I did my work”. Now that I don’t have work to be done with, someone how I don’t feel like I have “Earned the right to game”. Not saying this makes sense, necessary, but of course we feel how we feel. I have continued to play EVE Online (which I played before I got sick), albeit at a much lazier pace. I played through much of the latest Zelda with my 6 year old, which was fun, and recently played through FAR: Lone Sails which is a quiet, atmospheric puzzle solving game that involves piloting a vehicle through a post apocalyptic wasteland. Despite that description, I feel like the game is more soothing then it is anything else. It’s beautiful made, it was an enjoyable experience.


In addition to this jazz, I have of course been spending time with my wife and children. After my last flare I was spending a lot (almost all) of my time in the house, and more recently I have been making plans to see friends. Because my energy does not last so long, I have been trying to do lunches, perhaps meet a friend on their lunch break at work. The lack of outside the family adult contact once I stopped working has been weighing on me, and having a chat with an old friend has been a real boost.

by Catamount90   2019-11-17

Sapiens is an excellent book about the history of humans and it is a super easy, thought-provoking read. Puts into perspective how short modern humans have been around in the scheme of all humankind

by boothofthebeast   2019-08-24

Probably, I'm not religious and tend to agree, but compared to what? So is football - do you think it was given to us in the primordial soup or something? So are lots of other stuff, from Manchester City, human rights, Peugeot the automotive mfg, the French state, genders and to a large extent race. All that stuff are human constructs that depend on the unique ability humans have of constructing non-natural narratives and holding common beliefs about them - it's actually what separates our species from other animals and what separated the homo sapiens from other species of homo (other human species that used to exist), like the neardental, etc, and the reason why the Sapiens species ended up dominating the planet. I strongly recommend Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari (an atheist historian and scientist) which is very much about this.

Anti-Catholic bigotry was a staple of the KKK; and Stalin and Mao; and Nazis - so you're far from alone.

Anyway, one doesn't need to be erudite or get philosophical or resort to historical analogies to know what's wrong with that: it's just the lack of basic decency, aka, not being an unhinged asshole. There's simply something to be said about not acting like a jerk to other people because of different systems of beliefs. It's called common decency. I don't know, it's just about being a good person, or at least the normal, okayish, one, and not the demented lunatic going around throwing slurs and insults.

by unruly_bernoulli   2019-08-24

Here's the amazon page

by Trama-D   2019-08-24


by stormbytes   2019-07-21

>Basically, if something does quantifiable harm to another individual (physical, emotional, mental, fiscal), then that action would be immoral. Anything else is intrinsically amoral.

I believe you're confusing morality with empathy reactionism. While Kant would likely support your view, I see the basis for objective morality as revelation, not rationale. It is thus an unimpeachable truth.

Your notion of "subjective morality" is remarkably similar, with one caveat: the persona assuming the role of arbiter and the means employed; man and the force of his reason. You've neither eliminated nor challenged the inherent need for objective morality. Ironically, your position actually supports it, substituting 'an appeal to reason and empathy' for Divine origin as the objective property --- you've made yourself the god.

>If you attempt to argue morality from a religious text, you make room for people to kill other people for eating fucking bacon, or to execute a child, for talking back to their parents.

This is petulant and woefully low effort. If you want to put some actual thought into a sensible question I'm happy to respond. No one will blame you if you rather walk back your statements for lack of theological knowledge to mount an actual challenge.

>I'm going to assume that you subscribe to an Abrahamic religion, based on your mention of biblical myths.


>Humans as we think of them today, with our physical brain structure and level of cognitive function, have been around for about 200,000 years.

That's just patently false. Read Yuval Noah Harari's "Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind" (He is a gay, atheist professor and historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem). The cognitive revolution, by even the most optimistic estimates, took place at most 70,000 years ago. Even so, I fail to see how what challenge this poses to faith doctrine.

>Do you think that morality is only as old as your religion?

Given my view that revelation is the source of objective morality, yes absolutely.

>The concept of religion itself is only around 25,000 years old, at current estimates by anthropologists.

Yes, early animists and pagans. I still don't see how any of this challenges Judaic theology.

What have I missed?

by ggios   2019-07-21

I’m reading the book, Sapiens, at the moment. It contains a long chapter about this specific topic. I would recommend this book to anyone from beginning to the end.

by sdf_cardinal   2018-11-10

The book from last episode? Sapiens. I’m coincidentally reading it and it is great.

by parishilton1212   2018-11-10

For starters, I can really recommend Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Great book.

by jascination   2018-11-10

None of the things I've read from actual "business" books have ever been groundbreaking. They're just not that useful IMO.

What I do read are books that inspire me, or get me in an entrepreneurial mindset. I find the Four Hour Work Week really good for this - the lessons in it aren't particularly relevant 10 years later, but the stories, the vision, the core concepts like:

  • Find holes in systems and exploit them for cash
  • Live in exotic places while working minimally
  • Focus on lifestyle design; don't wait until retirement to lead an exciting and rich life

All of these are really inspirational for me, and I'm lucky enough to have achieved all of these things over the past few years.

I still listen to the audiobook at least once a year, especially when I'm in a mental rut and need to refocus on what I really care about.

People in the startup world (especially Tim Ferriss, who wrote the 4 hour work week) also seem to bang on about:

None of them are about business, but more about understanding the human spirit.

I don't think it's possible to be a successful entrepreneur without being interested in empathy, what it means to have a truly "good" life, and what it means to be human.

You can certainly read The Lean Startup or similar, but those kinds of "famous entrepreneur books" have been cliff-noted to death online and don't really say all that much that you haven't heard a million times before.

I'll also add Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! cos most of the (very many) people I've met in the startup scene absolutely suck at copywriting, design and branding. Plus it's just a really entertaining book.

by Soperman223   2018-11-10

So I recently read Sapiens , which is a book that attempts to explain human history from a bit more of a cultural perspective.

I found it absolutely fascinating (and started reading guns, germs, and steel afterwards because I wanted more), and I was wondering if you’ve read it and what you thought about it.

Also, in terms of relating to the podcast, I kind of agree with Grey on just disconnecting (from social media at least). I don’t think it’s psychologically healthy to be exposed to that as often as we are

by Folkariffic   2018-11-10

Hey! This is my kind of contest. Here's my list:

  1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Horari - From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? (copied from the Amazon page)

  2. Name of the Wind - Kingkiller Chronicles by Pat Rothfuss - My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me. (copied)

  3. The Golem Cypher: T.R.I.X. by B.V. Bayly - Once one of the best assassins in the galaxy, Cadell is now the hunted. The Ascendency, the ruling galactic empire and Cadell’s ex-employer, has stripped him of everything and placed a significant bounty on his head. Forced to live with the shadows of his past, Cadell hides on the backwater planets of the outer rim. Away from anyone who would recognize him. When his old friend and mentor, Salis, dangles a job in front of him that will get him an Ascendency pardon and let him clear his name, Cadell is ready to take it on. Armed with his constant companion, a strange alien symbiote named T.R.I.X. and his skills as an assassin, Cadell sets off to complete the strange job. ( A nifty book but a relatively new author, worth the read!)

  4. I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid - All I'll say about this is that it's quite volatile when it comes to the reviews it's received. I enjoyed it, but many other didn't... It's quite a ride if you end up enjoying it.

  5. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer - In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild. (One of my favorite books/stories of all time. I also hold the movie close to my heart.)

This took me a good few minutes, I hope you find something you like through this contest :)

by Mikho   2018-11-10
"Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari
by attofreak   2018-03-19

Wow, I didn't know he wrote a book dedicated specifically to "the Grandest Society of Merchants in the Universe". East India Company has been a subject of intrigue for me since the first time I got to know of its exploits during school. This company had an army (not mere mercenaries) to fight kingdoms! Imagine that in today's time. In Sapiens , Harari briefly mentions them, and the trinity of Imperialism-Capitalism-Scientific Revolution that swept the entire globe from Europe. Reading John Keay's unbiased narrative and propensity to be poetical in A History, The Honourable Company looks like an amazing read. And something that I naturally want to know more of, once getting at least some idea of the grand history of this country. Thank you!