XOXO Gossip Sapien

The Cognitive revolution began with “the appearance of new ways of thinking and communicating.” (Harari, p.24)  This led to the ability to imagine fictional things and talk about it, enabling the existence of myths. Alongside fantasy came gossipping, both of which, Harari argues, allowed more people to cooperate together than ever before. Myths and changing those myths accordingly united these growing societies. With the ability the change these stories, sapiens could change their behavior, social problems, and realities much quicker, therefore surpassing the long road of biological evolution to resolve issues. The Agricultural Revolution led to even more people physically living together and in one place for an extended period of time. People began growing crops and could create mass amounts of food in relatively little space. This led to the domestication of animals as well. People weren’t only capable of living in bigger groups, but creating bigger groups and the population boomed. Sapiens were now settling, manipulating the growth of crops and animals, and reaching “evolutionary success”. (p.87)

 

Boiling down Harari’s major arguments, the combination of the Cognitive and Agricultural Revolutions led to sapiens crowding together in larger numbers and creating communities. Harari explains that as food resources allowed for the population to grow, myths allowed for the cooperation of that population. Imagined orders govern people based on myths and must be believed in in order to work. I’m skeptical of Harari’s way of simplifying the human brain and its unique intelligent ability by essentially attributing success to making up believable stories. It’s more than just the capability of fantasy and complex language that led to sapiens becoming dominant. I find his arguments persuasive in outlining the major benefits of cooperating as a society via language and understanding and I agree that played a major functional role. I would add that it seems unlikely for a brain of such sophisticated nature to develop for such little means.

 

One thought on “XOXO Gossip Sapien”

  1. Great post Cassie. You make a lot of good analytical points that went deeper into Harari’s texts than Harari himself dealt with. I think your best arguments were in your second paragraph when analyzing the subject of imagined orders. I too agree that this is too simple of an explanation for the creation of our modern culture. I found it problematic that if every system, belief, or organization system is inherently fictional what then is are motivation to obey those systems? Utilitarian reasons? Maybe I’m too hopeful, naïve or idealistic but I would like to think there has to be a bigger reason for our evolution to the places we are at today.

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