Homo Sapiens and the Power of Fictionalized Communication

As stated by Harari, the Cognitive Revolution is “the point when history declared its independence from biology” (Harari, p. 37). Essentially, it is the point where the ideas and stories of humankind overtake the importance of physical characteristics and survival. The Cognitive Revolution creates a distinctive difference between Homo Sapiens and the other animal inhabitants of Earth, as witnessed by the way in which religion and governments become staples of human exsistence. Between 70,000 and 30,000 years ago, the Cognitive Revolution defined Sapiens’ civilization, until the manipulation of particular plant and animal species spurred the Agricultural Revolution. Across the globe, areas with populated with plants and animals capable of being domesticated turned to agriculture, and the domesticated resources spread. In one sense, the Agricultural Revolution instigated the suffering of a majority of individuals, and yet it is a beacon of evolutionary success. (Harari, p. 97).

Harari explains that Homo sapiens became dominant through our methods of communication. Not only because of the complex malleability of our language, but also the way we utilize this language. Humans create fictional entities and decide to believe in them en masse. With this ability, millions of people can be constrained to conform under the guise of religious institutions and governing bodies, and cooperate or antagonize in a way that other species are incapable (Harari, p. 31). I find this a brilliant way of assessing human civilization, but I have always theorized that this was a result of becoming a dominant species, not the reason behind it. If Harari is correct in his explanation—and I do think he makes a compelling case, though I am not entirely unconvinced that Homo Sapiens simply won the evolutionary lottery by chance—then one of the facets of humanity I find most detestable is also the facet which sets us apart from all other life on Earth.

One thought on “Homo Sapiens and the Power of Fictionalized Communication”

  1. In your post you do a nice job describing the revolutions, cognitive and agricultural. The distinction between that you brought up between humanity and biology is one faucet of the book that I personally dislike. Biology still plays a large part of human society and that excluding it as much as Harari does, doesn’t tell the full story. Human evolution was a long process where the word “revolution” should not be used, rather there was an evolution of the learned behavior. Language and Agriculture was developed through thousands of years of trial and error and societal changes. The fact is that we will probably never find out how we won as you called it the “genetic lottery”, but civilization was developed between the period of 100,000 and 10,000 years ago. Chance governs a lot of human lives.

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