A Critical Review of Sapiens- Yuval Noah Harari

The first thing that comes to my mind is that the book is magnificent. It gets you intrigue about the evolution of mankind. It has explored the way in which history and biology have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be a “human”. The thing I liked the most about Harari is the manner in which he has emphatically opened his views, we fall in unison with his views.

The premise of the story begins with 3 types of Revolution- The Cognitive Revolution (70,000 Years ago), The Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago) and The Scientific Revolution (500 years ago).

The first part of the book talks about how the universe was evolved. We’ve belonged to a family called ape. Human first evolved in East Africa about 2.5 years ago. The main argument about the first part is that how sapiens became the cause of extinction of other human species such as Neatherthals. Cognitive Revolution is basically a new way of thinking and communicating. Cognitive Revolution made sapiens to think about religions, myths, legends, and fantasies. Human brain was bigger than the size of the body. The dominant member of the family was the male which can be seen in most of the societies today. There existed coalitions, similar to today’s form of government.

The Cognitive Revolution forces us to think that Sapiens were living in a dual reality which Harari points out that on one side there were objective reality like rivers, trees, etc and on the other there were the imagined reality like gods, nations and co-operation. And the imagined reality overpowered us.

The Part-II of the book talks about the Agriculture Revolution. The shifts from having plucked wild figs and hunting sheep to farming are what Agricultural Revolution is all about. Sapiens devoted all their time to farming. Harari points out that 90% of the calories that we have today was domesticated in 9500 BC- 8500 BC like wheat, grains and the like. The fact that we didn’t domesticated wheat, wheat domesticated us is what really fascinates me. Human brain developed gradually for example they had an idea about what were the seeds to be produced. Harari points out that the Agricultural Revolution was the biggest mistake. But according to me it Agricultural Revolution is a great leap to humanity. Although it has brought many ailments like arthritis, slipped-disc, hernia etc but without the advent of Agricultural Revolution we couldn’t have survived because we can’t depend upon the environment as there’ll be a point where species will become extinct. The Sapiens population spread thinly over vast territories. Harari points out that increase in evolution lead to increase in human sufferings. The compelling fact about this part is that how imagined communities shaped our desires. The hierarchy system prevailed in the society. Harari also talks about the way that how in the Hindu mythology Lord Purusa created Sun, Moon, Brahmins, kshatriya, Vaishaya and Shudras with his body parts which is interesting to know.

In Part-III, in the discussion of the unification of mankind, Harari argues that political and economic interdependence increased. Empires grew and trade intensified. Barter System was established. He argues that how money, empires and religion drove us apart. Somehow I felt that he diversified from his topic in the end of the chapter.

In Part –IV of the book, the most fascinating part for me was how Harari saw Scientific Revolution as a progress of enormous power that humankind had obtained. I really liked the way he told about Modern Science, where we accept the fact that we don’t know everything. We aim to obtain new knowledge and acquire new theories about power to develop new technology. He talks about Imperial Capitalism – how credit lead to discoveries which lead to colonies lead to profits which lead to trust which further lead to more credit which is really interesting fact to know. Harari points out that how Industrial Revolution (manufacturing process) brought about global warming. He says that Industrial Revolution gave immense powers. Harari argues about the “imagined communities” which still prevails in the form of nations, empires and churches. Harari pointed that “States uses their power to kill their own citizen” is what muddles me. At the end he concludes by saying how modern technology has left us dependent and how will it overpower us in the coming years. We have mastered our surroundings, increased our food production build cities and stuffs. But with this we have invited a lot of sufferings. Had it not been happened what would be our situation? Is what comes to my mind, which  Harari fails to provide us.