Sapiens: Smarter than the Average Bear

The Cognitive Revolution was the appearance of new ways of thinking and communicating occurring between 70,000 and 30,000 years ago. Sapiens were able to think in unprecedented ways and to communicate using a new type of language (Harari 21). The Agricultural Revolution was when Sapiens began devoting almost all of their time and effort to manipulating the lives of a few animal and plant species (Harari 77). At first the Agricultural Revolution didn’t make the average human’s life easier or better. It actually created more work, less leisure, and a ballooning population that created more mouths to feed.

Harari explains that homo sapiens became dominant because compared to other animals humans can communicate in a more complex way. Our language is amazingly supple, as Harari puts it (Harari 22). Sapiens were able to transmit larger quantities of information regarding the world, social relationships, and information about things that really didn’t exist such as tribal spirits, nations, limited liability companies, and human rights. I agree with Harari that humans would have dominated because of the ability to communicate in a more advanced way. Humans were able to spread fictional stories through imagination and introduce the things that don’t actually exist that we still communicate about today such as politics, nations, and human rights. Harari mentions in the book that the survival of trees, rivers, and lions depends on the decisions of these fictional entities such as the United States, Google, etc. (Harari 32). As a result of these stories we were able to spread out throughout the world. I thought it was interesting that Harari considers the Agricultural Revolution as “history’s biggest fraud,” especially since agriculture plays a large role in the world today.

One thought on “Sapiens: Smarter than the Average Bear”

  1. Communication undoubtedly played a huge role in allowing Sapiens to dominate throughout the world, as it led to the establishment of Harari’s so called ‘imagined orders.’ As you stated, fictional myths such as the United States, freedom, and liberty brought cooperation and focus towards central goals combined with an ethical basis to explain why these ‘goals’ were worth striving towards. However, I must disagree with you on this: although the Agricultural Revolution certainly acts as one of the most important foundations for our modern world, I concur with Harari that it is also ‘history’s biggest fraud.’ The hunter-gatherer lifestyle provided more than enough nutrition for the Sapiens body without the need to exert a strenuous amount of energy. On the contrary, the Agricultural Revolution ushered in a lifestyle that was much more pain-staking and time-consuming, all without the benefits of a better diet or a more luxurious home life. Thus, I must maintain that the Agricultural Revolution has been at least somewhat glorified within history classrooms to this point and should be taught with consideration towards both sides of the true story.

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