Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Updated 20-Sep-2023

The book is "Sapiens" and it is all about humans. Fascinating and eye-opening, it provides enormous perspective for us humans today.

I agree that there are things to disagree with in the book (my Kindle version is littered with notes where he is wrong, or possibly wrong) but the sweep and the general outlines of his presentation of history is breathtaking, thought-provoking, and wry.

Many criticisms of him are fair, but usually dealing with some detail here or there, or his sometimes dismissive tone is an afront to those who have spent academic careers living with minutiae, say, of religious traditions.

Definitely the idea that the cognitive revolution was a revolution, all at once, and only for Sapiens, has evidence against it, just as the scientific revolution has. (And we still use the term Scientific Revolution in useful ways.)

Still, the broad path of the narrative and historical paths he treads are so thought-provoking (and in many cases he is insightful in important and novel ways).

That said, there are deeper problems with Harari as well-suggested in the following articles:

The main problems are ones of meaning -- Harari is hopelessly reductionist when it comes to them, or simply dismisses them as important because we actually came about more or less accidentally -- and fictions -- which Harari bursts but then surruptitiously replaces with his own due to his method of reductionism.

Book Reviews of Sapiens