All is Made in Love and War

Part 1

According to Harari, “[Cognitive revolution] Depends on the mutual reinforcement of science, politics and economics.” (Harari, 250) This is because when a government finds the need for something, they will invest fiscal resources into it to develop a scientific breakthrough. For example, on page 260 Harari says “When World War one bogged down into interminable trench warfare, both sides called in scientists to break the deadlock and save the nation. The men in white answered the call, and out of the laboratories rolled a constant stream of new wonder-weapons: combat aircraft, poison gas, tanks, submarines, and ever more efficient machine guns, artillery pieces, rifles and bombs.” (Harari, 260)

This shows how political and fiscal interests shaped scientific discovery by demonstrating the relation of a governmental interest (breaking the deadlock) and securing fiscal resources, which ultimately leads to a scientific discovery. This pattern is seen throughout history. Afterall, Americans only traveled to the moon after being motivated through the cold war with Russia.

Part 2

Starting from page 259, Harari makes a thorough argument on the linkage of science, empire, and capitalism. Since he analyzes both the relation of previous thought (I.e. deities, gods, etc.) to modern thought (focusing on the scientific advancements made throughout the past century.) I believe Harari is right by linking the three because progress is made by cognitive revolution which is developed through competition. (Which in my opinion drives both human and technological development, and ultimately the progress of the world.)

Thank you for reading!

Discussion Question
When do you believe humans are most motivated to create scientific advancements?

Harari, Yuval N., et al. Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind. Harper Perennial, 2015.

2 thoughts on “All is Made in Love and War”

  1. Hello, Kayleen. In regards to your question, I have to agree with your answer and say that competition is one of the best motivators for scientific progress. We humans love to try and one up the other tribe, so to speak. Underneath your example of the Space Race, I would add the Human Genome Project to the list of advancements made due to competition. Many research facilities scrambled to map the entire human genome before the others. They were so efficient at it that the project was completed two years ahead of schedule. Awards or recognition might push research further as well. Of course, if we’re talking about individuals, I do think most scientists get satisfaction simply from making new discoveries. If I were a researcher, that would certainly be the biggest draw for me.

    A link with information about the HGP:

  2. The compelling argument that I’ve heard made, and then reiterated in class yesterday, is that religion and science are not at odds but that religion acts as an impetus for science. That is to say, the religious beliefs of individuals acts as a catalyst towards advancements in our understanding in the world around us as well as contributes to the quality and thoroughness with which these theories are explored. I say this because we can look to how content people were with science as a result of their religion, for example Islam was more advanced than Europe for a time because they had to innovate navigation and astronomy in order to accurately find Mecca and perform their daily prayers. Later on, western Europe innovated as Protestant ideologies took hold. Furthermore, in cases such as Darwin, the unwillingness to challenge scripture led to extensive and thorough studies wherein there was no shadow of a doubt regarding his theory of evolution when he finally published it. Even then he was tentative. Ultimately I think we have religion and religious conviction to thank for our forward progression and improved understanding of the universe, the world around us, and the laws that govern them.

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