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What everybody should learn from... SAPIENS (Yuval Noah Harari)

Yuval answers in his book Sapiens questions like:

  • Why do so many species disappear where Homo sapiens arrives?

  • Why does man come to evolve like this?

  • Did humans domesticate some species or was it the other way around?

  • What is it that makes us happy?

  • What are the 3 human constructions that make humanity tend towards universal unity?

  • Are there better alternatives to capitalism?

  • When did farm animals stop being seen creatures that feel pain and anguish and began to be treated as machines?


For many years humans thought that they were special and that they did not have a family, that is, that they were separated from the rest of the species. But no, Homo Sapiens belong to the hominid family. Our closest living relatives are from that family: chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans.

Apart from sapiens, today there are no other living animals within the Homo (human) genus, but in the past, there were other species of this genus. Some of those humans left Africa and colonized other continents. Humans in Europe and Western Asia evolved into another genus.

Thus, from about 2 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, various human species coexisted in the world. All of them had important common characteristics. The most notable is that they all had a large brain in proportion to their weight. A large brain expends a lot of energy: it is 2 or 3% of body weight but consumes 25% of energy (at rest). Everything indicates that humans diverted energy from their muscles to their neurons. That big brain made us lose muscle because you can't feed everything.

Another unique feature of humans is their upright gait. Standing up has certain advantages: they have a free upper body; and downsides: less stability for that big head, narrow hips. This made childbirth premature and a tribe was necessary to raise a human. Education is born.

At first, humans were vegetarians but the jump to the top of the food chain did so quickly and with no time to adjust to it. Having been until very recently one of the underdogs of the savannah, we are full of fears and anxieties about our position, which makes us doubly cruel and dangerous.

When the Sapiens left Africa they found other hominin species in Asia and Europe, which disappeared ... why? There are two theories: The different species were mixed giving rise to the current races, or, all the species except the African sapiens disappeared. Tolerance is not something that characterizes Sapiens. In modern times, a slight difference in skin colour, dialect, or religion has been enough to prompt one group of sapiens to exterminate another group. Would the ancient sapiens have been more tolerant of a completely different human species?

It may well be that when Sapiens met European and Asian Neanderthals the result was the first and most important ethnic cleansing campaign in history.

The appearance of new ways of thinking and communicating, between 70,000 and 30,000 years ago, constitutes the Cognitive Revolution. The most widely accepted theory is that "accidental genetic mutations changed the internal connections of the brain and opinions to think in unprecedented ways and to communicate using an entirely new type of language."

This amazingly flexible language evolved to:

# communicate real things: things that can be seen

# to be able to gossip about the people of the tribe.

# transmit information about things that do not exist, legends, myths, gods, and religions can appear like this.

Human is the only species that can collaborate very flexibly and with an uncountable number of strangers, this makes them superior to any other species.

It has been identified that for a group of more than 150 individuals to cooperate they need to have "common myths", beliefs that unite the group. This capacity for cooperation and the power to change one's behaviour was decisive in the development of the sapiens. No animal can assemble in assembly and "abolish the office of the alpha male."

There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws, no justice outside of the common imagination of human beings.

Unlike lying, 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.


About 10,000 years ago "the sapiens started to devote practically the entirety of their time and exertion to control the life of a couple of types of creatures and plants": planting, watering, thinking about, checking ... The procedure was extremely moderate and emerged in better places. Free. Today, 90% of the calories that feed mankind originate from a bunch of plants that our progenitors trained over 5,000 years ago.


"The agricultural revolution left farmers with life generally more difficult and less satisfying than that of hunter-gatherers." Available food was expanded, but diet and quality of life were not improved: "The agricultural revolution was the greatest fraud in history."

Ancient skeletons show that the move to agriculture involved a series of ailments and diseases, such as dislocated intervertebral discs, arthritis, hernias ... and there was no complete food security.

Agriculture offered advantages, but the disadvantages were greater. Instead, for the species the success was resounding: Homo sapiens began to multiply exponentially. The evolutionary success of a species is measured by the number of copies of its DNA and not by the quality of life of the individuals. "This is the essence of the agricultural revolution: the ability to keep more people alive in worse conditions."

The plan was based on the belief that working hard will allow you to have a better life. But people did not foresee that the number of children would increase, which meant that food would have to be distributed among more people. Nor did they calculate that they would have to face thieves, which would force them to build walls, watch, and war. "The search for an easier life brought many hardships." This also happens to many of us today, because "one of the few rigorous laws in history is that luxuries tend to become needs and generate new obligations."

Yuval sums it up like this: “No one planned the agricultural revolution. (…) A series of trivial decisions (to improve the diet a little) had the cumulative effect of forcing the former hunter-gatherers to spend their days carrying basins of water under a sun”.



10,000 years back there were just a couple million sheep, dairy animals, goats, pigs and chickens. Today there are more than 1,000 million of every one of these animal varieties, aside from chickens, of which there are 25,000 million. Among the most shocking creatures that have ever existed ": they are enormously abused and relinquished simply taking a gander at the monetary point of view.

"This error between developmental achievement and individual enduring is maybe the most significant exercise we can draw from the rural upset." We will see that on more events it happens that "a fabulous increment in aggregate force and in the apparent accomplishment of our species is joined by extraordinary individual anguish".


"The agricultural revolution is one of the most disputable occasions ever." There are the individuals who feel that it put mankind on the way to thriving and the individuals who imagine that it was their ruin (and that of thousands of different species), because "the sapiens severed their close beneficial interaction with nature and ran towards voracity and estrangement. "

They never accomplished future financial security ", supposing that their harvests were not lost," rulers and elites rose, living to the detriment of the surplus nourishment of the labourers. History is something not many individuals have done while every other person developed.

Regardless of whether there is nourishment for everybody, that doesn't ensure that they concede to how to partition the land and the water. The greater part of the wars was not brought about by the absence of nourishment

In all realms there was a collaboration, yet "it was not constantly intentional, and it was infrequently equivalent." Then again, these domains require "basic legends" Fundamentally, when a larger part has faith in something, it causes them to cooperate. In this manner, having confidence in equity, in human rights, in a religion or the presence of countries and organizations, makes people cooperate.


This "imagined order" (or myths) is very powerful when it is shared by many people and even the lifestyle model and "the most personal desires".

"Consumption tells us that to be happy we must consume as many products and services as possible


Large cooperation systems require the handling and storage of large amounts of information, impossible to store in brains, and this brings to mind the danger that they will be forgotten or violated. The social order of the sapiens is imagined ”.

As a solution to this problem, writing appears and with it the archiving, cataloguing and retrieval techniques of written records


How did humans get organized in such massive cooperation networks? According to Harari, it was all thanks to creating imaginary orders and writing. Those orders and those scriptures divided people into artificial groups, into a hierarchy. The upper levels enjoyed privileges and power, and the lower levels suffered discrimination and oppression.

Those socio-political chains of importance come up short on a coherent or organic premise.

How might we recognize what is organically decided from what individuals attempt to legitimize by natural legends? The standard he proposes says that "Science permits it, culture denies it."


Harari keeps up that "each man-made request is loaded with logical inconsistencies." He likewise keeps up that the present conviction that opportunity and uniformity are basic beliefs is crazy since they are conflicting qualities.

Everything focuses on "history moving tenaciously towards solidarity" of humankind. Less and less secluded societies remain, and globalization is uniting mankind.

Today, all cultures have been changed by a flurry of worldwide impacts. An unmistakable model is the run of the mill food of every locale that is brimming with fixings that are not local to that district.

Since the intellectual unrest, individuals began participating even with abnormal individuals, however, there were cut-off points to that collaboration. Around during the main thousand years B.C. "Three potential general requests show up, whose supporters could envision the whole world just because (...) as a solitary unit":

1. Monetary (economic) order: traders don't see fringes for their organizations. Cash is whatever individuals are happy to use to speak to the estimation of things: "it's anything but a material reality; it is a mental build ". It works since individuals trust it to work. Cash can be only a bit of paper, yet on the off chance that we as a whole trust its worth, at that point it has that esteem: "Cash is the most general and most proficient arrangement of common trust that has ever been imagined."

2. Imperial (political) order: the champions see no fringes for their realm. Domains have utilized wars, bondage, extradition and annihilation, yet they have additionally implied social accomplishments and upgrades in the lives of numerous individuals.

"The worldwide domain that is being produced before our eyes can't by any State (...). Much like the late Roman Empire, it is represented by a multi-ethnic tip top and is held together by a typical culture and basic interests. " The creator keeps up that "increasingly more are picking the realm."

3. Order of universal religions (religious): the prophets don't see fringes for their fact. In the main thousand years, all-inclusive and evangelist religions emerge, which extend and add to the unification of humankind.

"The main strict impact of the horticultural transformation was to transform plants and creatures into a property." actually, a hypothesis about the source of the divine beings says that people needed to command plants and creatures and consequently guaranteed commitment to the divine beings (Genesis is a model, he includes). Accordingly, the human came to believe that his petitions and his activities "decided the destiny of the whole biological system.


Modern science has 3 crucial qualities:

a) it admits its ignorance, and everything can be questioned.

b) Observations are gathered and from that point, general speculations are extricated utilizing mathematical tools.

c) Those hypotheses are utilized to get new powers, for example, growing innovations. Since all speculations can be bogus, "the fact of the matter is a deficient test for information. The genuine test is the utility "

Progress has expenses and advantages. Even though there are numerous kinds of neediness, Harari brings them into two gatherings: social destitution (which keeps some from having indistinguishable open doors from others); and organic destitution (which dangers individuals' lives); and certifies that "in numerous nations around the globe, natural neediness is a relic of past times (… ). In numerous social orders, there are more individuals in danger of biting the dust from weight than from hunger. " But for Harari, "the primary task of the logical insurgency is to give humankind everlasting life."

Most logical examinations are financed because somebody accepts that they can help accomplish some political, financial, or strict objective" and, along these lines, philosophy legitimizes the expenses of research and impacts logical needs. At the end of the day, to comprehend why science has gotten where it has come "you need to consider the ideological, political and monetary powers" that have molded science to push it one way and not in another.

Science justified the imperial colonies.


It can't be denied that free enterprise has served to fortify development, monetary as well as logical. The "primary charge" of the "industrialist statement of faith" is "The advantages of creation must be reinvested in expanding creation." This craving to build creation to produce more cash and reinvest it in expanding creation has produced "colossal" development. Is it conceivable to keep that development to limitlessness?

One of the keys is the formation of cash by banks creating "obligation".

Today, the obligation (of governments, organizations, and people) is huge to such an extent that it is unpayable, yet the framework stays as long as there seems to be "trust later on."

To request an advance is to set aside an excursion back to bring to the present the cash we will win later on. Advances have been around for quite a while, yet "individuals infrequently needed to broaden a ton of credit since they didn't confide later on to be superior to the present," and it was imagined that riches couldn't increment.

For Harari, monetary development has been made conceivable by researchers creating revelations. "Banks and governments print cash, in any case, the researchers cover the tab."

For Harari, it is important to have governments that fabricate trust and forestall maltreatment through laws, sanctions, police, courts ... since in a free market it is simple for restraining infrastructures to be set up that could, for instance, diminish compensation uninhibitedly.

The modern insurgency that spread all through Europe improved investors and capital proprietors yet sentenced a large number of labourers to the existence of wretched destitution "(also the ecological issues created). Harari includes the shameful acts in the abuse of the Congo by Belgium.

The growth of the modern economy could prove to be a colossal fraud. " But, on the other hand, the other options are not better (like communism). So, we may not like capitalism, but we cannot live without it, we have to reform it. However, there are also signs for optimism (such as improved life expectancy, infant mortality, caloric intake ...), but let's not forget that infinite economic growth is simply impossible.

Economic growth also needs energy, materials, and mistreating animals.

"The industrial revolution was, above all, the second agricultural revolution": tractors, fertilizers, insecticides, hormones, medicines ... to the point that farm animals stopped seeing themselves as living creatures that could feel pain and anguish, and instead they began to be treated like machines.

The modern animal industry is motivated by animosity. It is driven by indifference and the taste of products that hide a lot of suffering and severe environmental damage. Harari clarifies that science has already shown that animals not only feel physical pain but can suffer emotional distress.

The industrialization of agriculture allowed a large labour force to migrate from the countryside to the city, where many hands and brains could work to "launch an unprecedented avalanche of products." But the capitalist economy is not only based on "producing" but also what is produced must be "sold". Hence consumerism arose. If for centuries "austere ethics" have been extolled and avoidance of luxury, consumerism has convinced people that whims are good. This "new religion" floods everything, even "religious holidays like Christmas", turned into shopping holidays.

Everything works to move the machinery of consumption: people eat, get fat, and then buy diet products.


As the world was formed to fit the necessities of the Human, territories were decimated, and species got wiped out. Our green and the blue planet is turning into a solid and plastic strip mall.

Close people group, of individuals who know one another, are blurring, for "envisioned networks", of individuals who think they know one another. There are two regular sorts of envisioned networks: the country and the buyer clan. They are characterized individually by having a place with a nation and by what they expend.

One more of the incredible qualities within recent memory is world harmony. Even though there is no harmony in the whole world, savagery is at memorable lows. Wars are not productive now: the expenses have expanded, and the advantages have been diminished because today the riches are in human capital, specialized information and financial structures, past assets that can be taken by attacking a district.

Is it accurate to say that we are getting more joyful? How might we know and be?

We can salute ourselves on the uncommon accomplishments of present-day sapiens just if we overlook the destiny of every single other creature. " A significant part of the material riches has been constructed or is being accomplished through the orderly abuse of animals (research facilities, ranches, zoos, bazaars, and aquariums).

Concentrating on sapiens, we can outline a couple of patterns about satisfaction:

1. External things produce happiness: As per a few examinations, cash builds joy however to a limited degree. After a specific measure of salary, satisfaction doesn't expand any more. The sickness decreases satisfaction for the time being, yet in the long haul, it doesn't influence bliss, except if the illness is degenerative or in extreme agony. "On the off chance that the infection doesn't exacerbate, they adjust to the new circumstance and worth their joy as high as the sound ones." Sapiens who have joined together, and agreeable families and networks are likewise more joyful. With this information, we can presume that a poor and wiped out an individual with a non-degenerative malady yet with an agreeable family can be more joyful than a distanced mogul.

2. Happiness depends on expectations and not on objective conditions: As indicated by this if desires are met, satisfaction increments. "Prophets, writers and thinkers acknowledged a great many years back that being happy with what you have is substantially more significant than getting more than you need" (like aloofness).

3. Happiness is a matter of chemistry: Scholars contend that bliss relies upon a complex sensory system and biochemical substances (endorphins). As indicated by this pattern, advancement has molded us to be neither too troubled nor excessively upbeat, with the goal that we look for delight however it doesn't keep going long.

4. Happiness is giving meaning to life: "An existence with significance can be amazingly fulfilling even amidst hardship, while an existence without importance is an unsavoury and awful experience, paying little heed to how agreeable it is" (as he contended Viktor Frankl). As per Harari, "from a simple logical perspective, human life has no significance. People are the consequence of visually impaired transformative procedures that work carelessly. " If that is along these lines, "whatever significance individuals’ credit to their lives is only a figment." A fantasy that assists with being cheerful. Also, Harari ponders: Does bliss truly rely upon misdirecting himself?

5. Happiness is neither externally nor internally, yet in tolerating things as they are and not having any desire to transform them: the quest for outer accomplishments and inward emotions must be halted. A key is knowing who or what you truly are.

Biology supports the last with its "narrow-minded quality hypothesis", as per which life forms pick what is useful for the proliferation of their qualities, regardless of whether it is awful for them as people. At the end of the day, our choices don't lead us to bliss developmentally and, in this manner, the person's vision is blinded by the directs of DNA.


We are "starting to violate the laws of common choice, supplanting them with the laws of the canny plan." Hereditary designing oversteps the laws of characteristic choice by swapping qualities between developmentally far off species. If the keen plan is to accept that there was a maker since the maker could be the sapiens. In any case, this force "raises a large group of moral, political, and ideological inquiries." "The general inclination is that ... our capacity to change qualities is in front of our capacity to make savvy and judicious utilization of that capacity." If we can improve the invulnerable framework or future, perhaps we can likewise improve our scholarly limits and become "superhumans" ... furthermore, even quit being Homo sapiens. In bioethics, the key inquiry is: What is restricted to do?

"Is there anything more dangerous than unsatisfied and irresponsible gods who do not know what they want?”


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