"Sapiens" and "Homo Deus" by Harari

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In summary: I realized that I was unconsciously using his book as a mirror.In summary, the author's books are interesting and encourage critical thinking about humans from many different perspectives.
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Demystifier
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I am deeply impressed by (and I strongly recommend) the books "Sapiens"
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0062316095/?tag=pfamazon01-20
and "Homo Deus"
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0062464310/?tag=pfamazon01-20
by Yuval Noah Harari.
The books critically study the past, presence and future of humans from many different perspectives, including historical, sociological, psychological, ethical, economic, political, biological, evolutional and algorithmic. Even if you disagree with some arguments of the author, the books definitely encourage critical thinking about humans at many different levels.
 
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  • #2
Most books on humans say they try to study humans from different angles. Are there any interesting points they make? Are the political aspects argued in isolation from biological points (that would be novel and interesting)? Can you give a small review?

Also, I was recommended Homo Dues before but you have to admit the title is off-putting. It just seems poppy and like it's trying too hard to catch your attention, which makes it look rather unscholarly. I was recommended it though but I'd like a larger reason than it's a book about human development.
 
  • #3
shawnr said:
Are there any interesting points they make?
The author makes several interesting and somewhat controversial points. For example, that agriculture made human life more difficult, that humanism is a kind of religion, and that nazism is a kind of humanism. All these claims look shocking at first, but when you see his arguments it starts to make sense from a broad perspective.
 
  • #4
I read Sapiens a couple years ago in large part because Daniel Kahneman said he was a huge fan of it. (I don't know if PF people read edge.org, but they should. Here's the interview Kahneman conducted with the author where he said he read the book multiple times, which is the hallmark of a really good book-- https://www.edge.org/conversation/yuval_noah_harari-daniel_kahneman-death-is-optional ... the interview itself is a very interesting tangent to the book)

I really like the first half of Sapiens. I liked the second half but not as much -- I thought the author overreached.
 
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  • #5
Kahneman is another must read for those who want to understand how humans really think.
 
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  • #6
Are these pretty much "hyped" books by Harari science (biology of homo sapiens) or philosophical speculations?
 
  • #7
vanhees71 said:
Are these pretty much "hyped" books by Harari science (biology of homo sapiens) or philosophical speculations?
I knew someone will ask that legitimate question. There is no much biology in those books, so in that sense they are not about natural sciences. But there are also soft humanistic sciences such as history, sociology, economics, etc. By being soft, such sciences involve much more speculation, but it does not make them "philosophy". Anyway, the point of those books is not to give you the scientific facts, not even the soft-science facts. Their point is to offer you a novel way of thinking about humans in historical, social, economical, etc. context. If someone is not interested in such soft ways of thinking, and thinks that all this is "philosophy", that's fine, nobody says that everybody should be interested in it. But for those who are interested in such stuff, those books are an excellent read.

By the way, there is another soft book you might find interesting. You said several times that ethics is the only subject that philosophy is worth for. Well, there is a book claiming that even ethical questions can, in principle, be answered by scientific methods:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/143917122X/?tag=pfamazon01-20
But beware, this book itself is philosophy (much more than Harari's books above) and not science.
 
  • #8
Well, of course, human affairs can not and should not be reduced to pure natural science. This is as dangerous as neglecting the purely biological facts. What makes me a bit sceptical from reading some reviews about "Homo Deus" is that it seems to imply that men develop in something "god-like". Such hybris usually leads to the most terrible human catastrophes one can think of!
 
  • #9
vanhees71 said:
What makes me a bit sceptical from reading some reviews about "Homo Deus" is that it seems to imply that men develop in something "god-like". Such hybris usually leads to the most terrible human catastrophes one can think of!
In this context, Harari uses the word "god" in a metaphorical sense. It really means that science and technology, e.g. through genetic manipulations, could make humans much more advanced than they are now. It could even upgrade us into a new species. And he does not say that this is something good, he only argues that it is very likely that future developments might go in that direction.
 
  • #10
Demystifier said:
Kahneman is another must read for those who want to understand how humans really think.
I second this opinion. His book immensely helped me to understand both my and other people reactions. In many real situations so far I often said to myself: Heck, it was an exact copy of Kahneman's example.
 
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Related to "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus" by Harari

1. What are the main themes explored in "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus" by Harari?

The main themes explored in these books are the history and future of mankind, the impact of technology and human behavior on society, and the concept of humanity's collective story and purpose.

2. How does Harari challenge traditional views on human existence in these books?

Harari challenges traditional views by presenting a narrative that combines history, biology, and psychology to explain the rise of Homo sapiens and the potential trajectory of human evolution. He also critiques commonly held beliefs about the role of religion, politics, and technology in shaping human societies.

3. What are some of the key ideas presented in "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus"?

Some key ideas presented in these books include the role of storytelling and imagination in human development, the impact of agricultural revolution on human societies, the potential for human enhancement and immortality through technology, and the consequences of human domination over the natural world.

4. How does Harari address ethical concerns in "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus"?

Harari addresses ethical concerns by examining the potential consequences of human actions and technological advancements on society and the planet. He also discusses the need to reevaluate traditional ethical frameworks in light of these changes and the importance of ethical decision-making in shaping the future of humanity.

5. What makes "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus" stand out among other books on human history and evolution?

These books stand out because they offer a unique perspective on human history and the potential future of our species. Harari combines scientific research, philosophical insights, and storytelling to present a thought-provoking and compelling narrative that challenges readers to rethink their understanding of humanity.

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