Don’t rock the boat

The cognitive revolution as described by Harari is a development of the ability to use thought to further our cause. The cognitive revolution was a development of language and the ability to gossip and make up stories. Through shared stories, modern humans form shared ideologies which cause them to feel an intimate connection to a population much larger than any other animal. This allowed sapiens the ability to dominate other species by use of large group cooperation. The agricultural revolution was a shift from hunter/gatherer societies to societies that domesticated animals and plants and raised them. The agricultural revolution allowed for population growth to happen beyond the natural ability of the land to sustain the population.

Harari claims that homo sapiens became dominant because of their ability to form communal belief systems or imagined orders. He says, “an imagined reality is something that everyone believes in, and as long as this communal belief persists, the imagined reality exerts force in the world.” (pg. 35) I find his arguments persuasive because he presents it with authority and I’m not used to questioning things like that. In the world I grew up in, if a history teacher told you to read a book for class, it was obviously the truth and there would be no reason to question the persuasiveness of the arguments. If you think about it, this is another of those imagined realities that he is talking about. There is an accepted order in our society that we will go to school to be taught, so we don’t always think to question the “facts” as they are presented to us. So basically, I agree with him that the social constructs of society lend credibility to the argument that it’s what makes homo sapiens different.


1 thought on “Don’t rock the boat”

  1. Harari does seem to claim quite a few large ideas without truly giving us an answer for how these things came to be. Although I do agree with you that authority does play a huge role in this novel and in every other persuasive piece, I do not think that we should just agree with everything that Harari is telling us. I think that simply acquiescing to the ideas that Harari presents encourages us to not provide alternatives to try to prove him wrong to get the the real crux of the mystery of humanity. This imagined order that Harari describes is what is unique to humans. I think that we should use it to imagine alternatives to what he has presented. I absolutely agree that for the majority of our lives we are told that we have to follow X,Y, and Z for some societal purpose because someone in power is telling us that that is what we should do. Hierarchies are important, power structures are valid, and authority is needed for checks and balances. But delving into an issue and not accepting what Harari says as fact can actually lend to a more helpful debate on what happened and what Harari left out; allowing other scientists to pick up where he left off. For example, with the development of the agricultural revolution, Harari implies that all sapiens did this and that this stepping stone has led us to where we are now. However, he does not mention that there are still hunter-gatherers today. I am curious what Harari would say to this or if I simply missed something in the text. But regardless of this example, I think questioning the reality that we are given is the only way to evolve.

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