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Other "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus" by Harari

  1. Aug 8, 2017 #1

    Demystifier

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    I am deeply impressed by (and I strongly recommend) the books "Sapiens"
    https://www.amazon.com/Sapiens-Huma...rd_wg=aqCkG&psc=1&refRID=SVZCSXAGVVRGZ77GM8S7
    and "Homo Deus"
    https://www.amazon.com/Homo-Deus-Brief-History-Tomorrow/dp/0062464310
    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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  3. Aug 9, 2017 #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.
     
  4. Aug 12, 2017 at 7:26 AM #3

    Demystifier

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    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.
     
  5. Aug 12, 2017 at 12:28 PM #4

    StoneTemplePython

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    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.
     
  6. Aug 16, 2017 at 2:58 AM #5

    Demystifier

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    Kahneman is another must read for those who want to understand how humans really think.
     
  7. Aug 16, 2017 at 3:03 AM #6

    vanhees71

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    2016 Award

    Are these pretty much "hyped" books by Harari science (biology of homo sapiens) or philosophical speculations?
     
  8. Aug 16, 2017 at 3:38 AM #7

    Demystifier

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    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/Moral-Landscape-Science-Determine-Values/dp/143917122X
    But beware, this book itself is philosophy (much more than Harari's books above) and not science.
     
  9. Aug 16, 2017 at 3:45 AM #8

    vanhees71

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    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!
     
  10. Aug 16, 2017 at 3:54 AM #9

    Demystifier

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    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.
     
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