Why Sapiens Rule the World

The Cognitive and Agricultural Revolutions, as Harari extensively addresses, were crucial turns in human history and what we know as civilization today. The Cognitive Revolution, beginning about 70,000 years ago, was a time when humans began developing behaviors and skills which much more resemble those of modern humans rather than our more wild animal-like ancestors. Most significantly, during this time our language became more developed and sophisticated which began propelling sapiens further and faster towards the society dwelling and language dependent citizens we are today (Harari 19). As for the Agricultural Revolution, this was a time when sapiens learned how to concentrate their efforts into a relatively small plot of land to yield food, rather than continue the nomadic lifestyle of hunting and gathering. Where in previous millennia all members of a band would have spent their time in similar ways in order to feed themselves, new tasks were required to be learned and practiced in order to develop farming. Sapiens learned how to sew seeds and cultivate desired crops, an eventually how to domesticate animals for both food and labor purposes (77). Humans were now consumed by new living practices which more closely resemble modern ones.

In addition to the significance of the Agricultural and Cognitive Revolutions being crucial to our distinction as a species, Harari emphasizes the idea of imagined orders being crucial to our domination of the planet. This idea of imagined orders and why we are such a powerful species is rooted in our complex language and ability to transcribe. Harari uses an example of monkeys calling out to alert for danger with the only meaning being ‘Careful! A lion!’ whereas modern humans have the ability to discuss where exactly the lion is and how they should deal with the issue (22). Our language allows us to cooperate with large groups based on common beliefs in a system of “imagined orders”, ideas such as religion, politics, nations, currency, etc. that humans agree upon to create societies. This ability to create an abstract world and agree upon its factors is largely, as Harari says, why “sapiens rule the world” (25). I largely agree with Harari on this point because in the event that humans were stripped of our imagined orders, our society would look much more similar to other animal residents of Earth. Yet, because of our unique cognitive abilities, we would quickly be able to build right back up again.

Leave a Reply