It Was All In Our Heads: How Sapiens Dominated With Their Imagination

The Cognitive Revolution represents the presence of new customs of thought and communication between approximately 70,000 to 30,000 years ago (Yuval Harari, p. 21). During this period, Sapiens began conveying much larger quantities of information regarding the world, social relationships, and fictional myths (Harari, p. 36-37). Consequently, Sapiens developed abilities to coordinate more complex actions with larger groups of individuals (Harari, p. 36-37). The Agricultural Revolution represents the change of Sapiens lifestyles approximately 10,000 years ago from hunting-gathering to a domesticated relationship with plants and animals (Harari, p. 77). I say domesticated relationship WITH plants and animals because Harari uses wheat as an example to describe how Sapiens became the domesticated species. As Harari explains, wheat demands comfortable soil, constant food and water, and daily protection from Sapiens (Harari, p. 80). Thus, Sapiens become slaves to wheat, and more generally, domestication. However, this observation helps explain why Sapiens became the dominant figures on Earth.

Harari argues that although domestication of wheat and animals for excess food and advanced transportation did allow people to form larger interconnected communities, myths formulated by the quickly expanding human imagination allowed larger empires and kingdoms to prosper. I believe that Harari provided a convincing and exceptional argument for this claim, as he uses two history-altering documents (the Code of Hammurabi and the Declaration of Independence) to effectively portray his point. Although I do think his argument is largely sound, I do question why Harari chose to frame the topic of imagined orders in a negative narrative, as he concludes the chapter entitled “The Building of Pyramids” with the phrase “There is no way out of the imagined order…” (Harari, p. 118). According to Harari’s argument, imagined orders established the basis for humans’ moral and ethical reasoning to sort out right and wrong, which few people would argue is a negative consequence. Nonetheless, Harari’s argument convinces me that imagined orders were essential in establishing Sapiens dominance since the Agricultural Revolution.

One thought on “It Was All In Our Heads: How Sapiens Dominated With Their Imagination”

  1. Through the agricultural revolution definitely created a drastic change in lifestyle for sapiens. But looking at is as a sort of imprisonment for the sapiens, being that they now have to revolve their whole lifestyle around agriculture to survive is a brilliant way of looking at such a shift. I personally just saw all the benefits of a controlled environment, and the power of domestication, whereas you too notice to the possible conflicts that could arise such as rough seasons and their consequences or soil standards to actually grow food, leading to them learning and hence evolving to a more knowledgeable and capable farmer. A very interesting point of view.

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