Brawn vs. Brain – The Evolutionary Showdown

According to Harari and many other anthropologists and scholars, the Cognitive and Agricultural revolutions were turning points in history that are essentially the basis of large-scale human civilization. Undoubtedly connected, the two revolutions were theoretically what facilitated the expansion and advancement of Homo Sapiens and the demise of other species that at one point co-existed with “modern” humans. Approximately 70,000 years ago, the point of the Cognitive Revolution, is when Harari asserts that Homo Sapiens acquired imagination and the ability to creatively interact and more broadly “invent” through the increased ability to transmit higher quantities of information at higher rates, form deep social relationships, and overall imagination (Harari, p. 37). Utilizing a higher cognitive ability to problem solve and manipulate the environment, about 12,000 years ago, major domestication of plants and animals became what is now known as the Agricultural Revolution. Through this both easier and more abundant diet, life became easier to settle in and support large groups, as well as facilitating biological evolution that contributed even more so to modern human physiology and evolutionary success (Harari, p. 78). Both revolutions allowed for the successful gathering/creation of large scale societies, as they could both be maintained through social interaction, bonds and order along with sustenance.

In the biological arena, evolution played to homo sapiens as they are thought to have been able to form strong social ties unlike any other species alive at the time. Through social ties, larger more mold-able brains, the ability to imagine and create ultimately weapons and social structures, Homo Sapiens quickly dominated the scene. What seems to be the most “human” feature of Sapien groupings is the presence of imagined orders that instill social beliefs and therefore structure society, daily living, and expectations of behavior and relations. Through these orders, Harari claims that Sapiens quickly step away from empathy into a power position over “minority” or unfamiliar populations as modern humans have frequently in the past. While this claim can be explained in a rather convincing manner simply by looking back through history, I feel that the rise of Homo Sapiens is a much more complicated process including ultimate causes such as geography and climate as well as potential immunity to diseases and the ability to survive more destitute food supply situations due to varying needs in diet.


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