Yesterday I wrote that I wanted to start reading some of the books I have (read). I decided to start with Sapiens, from Yuval Noah Harari. It is a well known book that I read it a couple of years ago, well, I listened to it. I have listened to the first chapter today. I do this listening in the car and at work. Wile listening I sometimes get distracted and forget to pause, this is the reason why I didn’t mind listening to the book again. I took some notes this time, and after the first chapter I listened to it again in a faster speed. It is a good thing that I did that because I missed some parts again… Normally I don’t mind not getting it all in, but now I want to listen to it all I notice that that is not so easy. I am sure this will also happen when you read a book, but I was quite obvious now. I work as a carpenter, it is often impossible to concentrate on a book, but today the work didn’t need much attention, but I guess my mind wondered off at some point.
This is written on his website of Yuval Noah Harrari, a brief history of humankind.
Homo sapiens rules the world because it is the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in its own imagination, such as gods, states, money and human rights.
Starting from this provocative idea, Sapiens goes on to retell the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective. It explains that money is the most pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised; that capitalism is the most successful religion ever invented; that the treatment of animals in modern agriculture is probably the worst crime in history; and that even though we are far more powerful than our ancient ancestors, we aren’t much happier.
If you are interested in human history than I recommend starting with prehistory. How did people live before the periods we have some (written)information from. I find it interesting, and this book tells it without nonsense and it is reasonable up to date with the latest findings as far as I can tell. The way he writes tell me that he is a skeptical person, he tries to show different opinions but he doesn’t shy away from telling his own opinion. It is by no means a book that will tell you everything you need to know, it is a book written for a large audience and the ideas it brings are a good starting point for more research.
A few things that I realize better now are the facts that not only Homo Sapiens and the Homo Neandertalensis lived at the same time, but that there were other Homo … living also at the same time. We also pride ourselves of the big brain we have and that this is the reason why we are ahead of other animals, but we had that brain for 2 million years and didn’t do much with it. He writes that those “brains” were as capable as ours, they could in principle learn what we can learn if one would wake up now.
There is also a discussion about how we became Homo Sapiens. Did we replace the other species or did we breed with them. Most scientist prefer the so called replacement theory because this fits better with the idea that all humans are the same. The other idea is known as interbreeding and suggest that some Home Sapiens have DNA of other species that where living in the area they moved into. They now know that a lot of people in the west have some Neanderthaler DNA and people in other parts of the world carry DNA from other local, and extinct species. This is something I like to know more about.
Tomorrow I will write more about chapter one.