The cognitive revolution was a major turning point in the legacy of homo sapiens, and it effectively allowed us to rise from the middle of the food chain, straight to the top. It was an evolution in how sapiens communicated, and therefore cooperated, with one another. No longer were we restricted to language that was solely used to identify vague threats or to show basic emotions. It was now a complex system that allowed for intricate and nuanced vessels of expression. The two fundamental things that included were gossip, and fiction, and each played a key role in allowing massive groups of sapiens to coexist with one another. If the cognitive revolution gave us the brains to conquer, the agricultural revolution gave us the numbers. Not only did agriculture allow more food to be processed in less space and therefore allowing a greater population to live in a smaller space, it also ensured that we would produce much more children. As the fields grew larger and larger, more hands were needed to tend them, and strength in number went from an incredibly useful tool, to a necessity. In this same vein, a cycle was produced of needing more manpower to tend a field, expanding into more fields in order to feed the new manpower, and again requiring more manpower.
As much as I want to be skeptical of Harrari’s arguments of imagined orders being the tool that binded civilizations and allowed for our success, I really have no better alternative solution. Not only does Harari support it well with his examples of the code of Hammurabi, the US declaration of independence, and the Hindu caste system, but I also admittedly have some bias in buying into his theory. It’s really always amazed me how much humans love to tell stories that before this I’d assumed it was almost integral to being a human being. To have my own suspicions about humans confirmed with so much convincing evidence has had a really profound effect on me. For a long time I’d thought that stories have had the ability to not only change individuals, but to change societies. Harari has proven that not only is this true, but it’s necessary in the evolution of societies and will presumably continue to be until humans stop being humans.