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Quick Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Refreshing willingness, even desire, to challenge and disturb, and nice writing style. Great start, and excellent point about sapiens having always been walking doomsday devices for the other species. Continues just as well, listing mistakes made through time, population growth negating any gains and creating more problems, loss in quality of life for most, the dreadful life of most domesticated animals, imagined order and all its traps and trappings… Good point about sapiens ending up ruled by what they mean to control or even create to aid themselves, and also about imagined order being used to justify power, privilege and the subjugation of others. Baffled by cognitive dissonance being seen as “a vital asset” instead of a flaw though, and the bits about retreating nationalism and safeguarding human rights and the interests of the entire species sure don’t match current events, and neither does that supposedly probable green global empire.
Many good points about religions, best perhaps being that if one omnipotent God exists, He must be evil. Also well said that the Scientific Revolution was actually one of ignorance, being triggered by the admission of ignorance. Then, the chapters on imperialism and capitalism and the second half of the Industrial Revolution one provoke shudders and ought to do worse, the benefits being no excuse for the litany of evils. And, while we can’t go back, the author‘s wrong to say we can’t do without capitalism. We must find a way past, go forward, immediately.
The following chapter, about social order on all levels, does generally point out good developments, albeit still far from what should be. But then, after a pretty annoying chapter about happiness which rather misses the point and doesn’t quite fit, comes the truly terrifying final one, for reasons that are to some extent spelled out in the book‘s afterword, and which are also those why I won’t be reading Homo Deus: Our power grows exponentially but our wisdom, our capacity to use it right, does not, and any plausible future created by “irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want” can be nothing but horrifying.

Rating: 4/5


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