Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

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fiby41
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Re: Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

Post by fiby41 » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:02 am

George-The PNW natives, like the natives up the coast in SE Alaska, weren't really hunter-gatherers in the traditional sense. Because of the plentiful salmon runs and varied ocean life it made much more sense to settle by the rivers and ocean for extended periods of time, instead of being constantly on the move.
Parallels can be drawn to the Nishada (niṣāda)

Niṣādas are tribes that have the hills and the forests for their abode and their chief occupation is fishing as written in the Manu Smriti.
Riggerjack wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:42 pm
It's almost like humans behave like humans, even without a eurocentric judeochristian patrarchy to inspire them to be all warlike. :roll:
The celebrated Niṣāda king Nala, who loved and married Damayanti the princess of Vidarbha (in central India, has same name till date)

In Ramayana, the king of the Niṣādas, named Guha, was a very close friend of Rama. He helps Rama and Sita to cross the Gaṅgā river.

So, no.

jennypenny
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Re: Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

Post by jennypenny » Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:29 am

I wasn't sure whether to give 21 Lessons it's own thread or not. I decided this thread works as the Harari thread as we've done with the Peterson thread. It's apt since I found 21 Lessons to be the progressive answer to Peterson's 12 Rules. In some ways, the books are similar. Both authors are ensconced in the humanities. They give credence to the power of narratives, bristle against the current focus on technology, and have an idealistic idea of who humans can be when they apply themselves. They also both have a fascination with pop culture and know more about Disney movies than an adult male should IMO. :lol:

That said, they diverge on the usefulness of narratives. Peterson's book is almost an ode to the inherent truths in popular narratives and a warning that abandoning those narratives will cause us to lose our way, personally and as a society. Harari's Lessons are more a warning about the power of narratives and how they are used to control us, again both personally and as a society. Both authors show their perspectives in the best possible light and only give lip service to others ... Harari talks about secularism in the most positive terms while outlining all the dangers of other isms while Peterson makes traditional narratives sound like the only path to contentment. Of course, there are horrible secularists just as there are horrible traditionalists, both of whom can use their belief system to justify anything with only minimal effort.

I think there is as much 'truth' in Harari's book as there is in Peterson's. Peterson eschews progressive ideals as trampling over innate truths about humans, and in some cases that might be correct. Harari warns against clinging to narratives just because we've invested so much time and energy into them; he believes humans are best served by constantly reinventing themselves. Both, of course, are right. And wrong. There is no need to cling completely to established western truths to maintain a civil society as Peterson suggests. OTOH, Harari's idea of a constantly evolving set of human truths sounds, well, inhuman, so is probably an impossible task for most people.

I enjoy Harari's writing and the success of Sapiens means he's given license to expound on ideas where other authors might get told to edit down. That said, he indulges in his pet peeves in every book and it's getting a little tiresome. One of those is his opposition to religion.* While I totally respect that viewpoint and can understand why a gay man growing up in judeo-christian society might have strong feelings about the subject, his understanding of religion, particularly of faith, is off the mark. When he mentions (several times) why people are religious, particularly why people have faith, he views it from his own perspective. He only talks about how he would have faith -- what would need to be true for him to have a faith in something -- which is very different from how many people come to faith or remain faithful. His version of faith is very different from mine and many other people based on my experience in the church. He misjudges its benefits and failures to some extent because of this.

Is it worth reading? I'd say yes, if nothing else as a counterpoint to Peterson. 21 Lessons is a much more exhaustive book and Harari is a better writer and thinker. He is also very good at identifying what the key issues are going forward even if IMO his remedies are naively optimistic at times. Serious discussion of how humans should act and how the world should function is useful, even if it is mostly academic in the end.



*Full disclosure ... a pet peeve of mine is when people criticize religion (particularly the Catholic Church) by invoking the wrongs done centuries ago. I have my own version of Godwin's law, where as soon as someone mentions Galileo in an argument against the Church I dismiss their argument. Harari commits this sin in 21 Lessons.
Last edited by jennypenny on Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:10 am

The celebrated Niṣāda king Nala, who loved and married Damayanti the princess of Vidarbha (in central India, has same name till date)

In Ramayana, the king of the Niṣādas, named Guha, was a very close friend of Rama. He helps Rama and Sita to cross the Gaṅgā river.

So, no.
I am completely unfamiliar with this story. So I use the power of Google and Wikipedia to get to:
Nishada (niṣāda) is the name of a kingdom mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata.[1] The kingdom belonged to a tribe of the same name. The 'Nishada' are also used to designate aboriginal communities practicing fishing or hunting as their chief occupation and they are thought to designate Austric origin.
And
The main profession of Nishaadas was fishing and hunting. When a Nishaada had killed one bird from a pair, the other bird was remorseful of its loss and was in pangs of pain, observing this deep pain inspired the sage Valmiki to write the life history of king Rama of Ayodhya and his dutiful wife queen Sita, who lived in separation due to her capture by deceit by the egoistic demon-like king Ravana. This poetic mythology is revered in India as a guide to highest ideals of human-life, is known as the Ramayana, or the record of king Rama's life.[4] In Ramayana, the king of Nishaadas, named Guha, was a very close friend of Rama. He helps Rama and Sita to cross Ganges river.
And I think if we are throwing out PNW natives as not Hunter gatherer enough, I don't know how natives of a story about an old kingdom make the cut. But it does fit nicely with the narrative I was so critical of, and shows about the same level of narrative to anthropology ratio.

It seems that my expectations are the ones out of line.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 5:59 am

I agree with jennypenny. Both books are around 80% on track, 20% off on personal tangent cuckoo-bananas.

hojo-e
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Re: Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

Post by hojo-e » Wed Nov 21, 2018 2:43 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 5:59 am
Both books are around 80% on track, 20% off on personal tangent cuckoo-bananas.
Two levels or more above seems crazy.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:14 pm

@hojo-e:

:lol: Could be that, but I've been on a bit of an obsessive "where are things heading?" reading binge, and if/when it comes down to narrative vs. biology and/or ingenuity vs. energy/resources, I am lately tending towards the biology/energy-resources quadrant (or octant?)

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Jin+Guice
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Re: Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

Post by Jin+Guice » Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:53 pm

I just finished 21 Lessons. It's extremely good and I highly recommend it. It blew my mind several times, though as often happens I never quite remember why.

I read Sapiens a few years ago, and that book is better. He's a great thinker but a better historian, and 21 Lessons isn't a history book. What I like about 21 Lessons is that he really harps on his previous notion that what defines humans is their ability to collectively create and believe stories. He draws all kinds of conclusions from this, but I think it's a really important lesson, especially for the logical/ nerd types (of which I am one). If we accept that this is true, or even partially true, than all humans (including ourselves) will never really know truth and we are a slave to our narratives/ stories, in a certain sense. This is important to keep in mind as we seek to know and interact with others and know ourselves. It'd never really occurred to me that a nation isn't actually real, except in our minds.

The book does have some flaws. Harari clearly believes the story of liberal secular humanism and therefore favors it. I don't tend to hold religion in high regard, but I agree with JP that for a book of this nature he does a rather poor job of treating religion with an unbiased lens. If anything 21 Lessons helped me to better understand and gain more respect for religion, but I feel like Harari could have done with internalizing some of his own points as it's pretty clear that he biases his own church of liberal secular humanism over traditional religion (unless he's just that meta).

As 7w5 mentioned in previous posts he pays lip service to some ecological problems (mostly global warming) but clearly doesn't believe it will impact the future. He is more of a techno-pessimist than an eco-pessisimist.

Did anyone read Homo Deus? I checked it out at the same time but after rereading this thread I remembered how weak the future predictions part in Sapiens was. Consequently has anyone reread Sapiens? I'm thinking of reading it again, based on the strength of 21 Lessons, though I don't usually reread books.

daylen
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Re: Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

Post by daylen » Mon Dec 24, 2018 7:13 am

Jin+Guice wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:53 pm
Did anyone read Homo Deus? I checked it out at the same time but after rereading this thread I remembered how weak the future predictions part in Sapiens was.
Not worth your time. Way too techno-optimistic.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=8187&p=139136&hili ... us#p139136

jennypenny
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Re: Sapiens -- A Brief History of Human Kind

Post by jennypenny » Mon Dec 24, 2018 8:45 am

Corrected link from daylen's post viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10349
(fixed original thread)


+1 to Homo Deus being my least favorite book of his. If you read 21 Lessons there's no need to read Homo Deus.

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