BOOKS

Sapiens

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0

I’ve now read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari twice and I consider it to be a wonderful summation of what my species is, for however long we remain the dominant species on this planet. In this post I present a few take-away ideas, but also provide my notes as well as Kindle highlights in JSON format.

For me, this book is closer to a religious text for a religion of Human-ism; or, better yet, Sapiens-ism. It is a book that frames the whole of what we are as animals and the means by which we’ve fabricated culture. It was once the scope of religion to answer these, but this book covers that in a much more relatable, believable, and comprehensible way. Genetics, biology, and neuroscience here provide me a vastly greater appreciation of what Sapiens is than any mythic text.

In Sapiens, we explore a place where dogma and imagined truths are set aside so that we mortal engines can see ourselves for what we are:

resource-anxious Great Apes with an odd cognitive mutation that fuels our ability to imagine and thereby abstract.

The book starts with the story of the multiple Great Apes of the Hominid variety and how they seem to have arisen and lived alongside one another — occasionally even successfully swapping genes. But somewhere along the way, those like us, the Sapiens, witnessed the end of the other Hominids such that only Homo Sapiens remains.1

But why did Sapiens remain and the others perished from the Earth? The key seems to have been related to the behaviors that abstraction unlocks.

Abstraction’s legacy looms large: it’s the thing that allows “imagined realities” to blossom: “Private Property,” “The Calendar,” “Money,” “Interest Rates,” “The Law,” “Religion,” “Settled Agriculture + Bureaucracy + Conscription, etc. These imagined realities let Sapiens scale its societies and coordinate its efforts in scales unimaginable to any other species; perhaps even to Gods (Elohim) if the “Tower of Babel” bears any kernel of fact. Harari firmly records power of Sapiens’ imagined realities to move actual reality in a shockingly powerful and fluid way.

But three particular imagined realities (abstractions) rule our current day: Capital, Empire, and Science. Harari suggests these three abstractions’ virtuous cycle of interaction will ultimately push Sapiens to wrest control of its evolution from the hands of sloppy natural selection and lead to outcomes that effectively “end” the species. They are:

  • Capital and Empire unleash species destruction (nuclear disaster, climate apocalypse)
  • Capital and Science create new life (AI)
  • Capital and Science consciously improve Sapiens (gene-edited humans, technology-integrated Sapiens, the Singularity) so that Homo Sapiens ends while Homo Superior emerges

Granted, the latter two, if handled poorly, well result in species destruction. Those stories (ah, our ability to imagine!) of AI-lead species ending is of “The Terminator” variety and genetically- or technologically-enhanced humans undoing (by social stigma, economic genocide, or outright butchery) the “old model human” has been imagined in “Gattaca” or “The Wrath of Khan.”

A few key other ideas greatly inspired me while reading the book.

The Anxious Ape

Why are we so damn anxious? Alcohol, conquest, braggartism? Why are we so small-ape nervous even as we are the apex predator on the planet. The answer is that we have only been so for a few thousand years and before that we were barely eking it out.

Consequently, while lions and Great White sharks had millennia to grow calm and firm in their apex ecological niche, we got there in a heartbeat and took all of our anxiety and distrust with us leading to the bizarreness of an orange-tinted ape asserting his dominance by calling others by absurd nicknames even as he possesses more destructive firepower than our planet could ever recover from.

And if we don’t medicate our anxiety with hucksterism we do it by sex, drugs, food, or circuses.

Nature and What’s Natural

Sapiens is a shockingly tolerant and tolerance-instructing book. In it that which Nature allows is natural and that which Nature proscribes is simply not possible. It’s natural for women to fall in love, it’s natural for us to build atomic bombs, it’s natural for us to weep when we’re picked last in sports. Sex of all variety is natural, desire of all variety is natural because we are wholly natural. It seems like such a banality, but here in this month of Pride in the city where the Stonewall Riots birthed the Gay Rights movement, it’s worth thinking on how much money, time, and blood we have squandered in the name of Natural versus Not-Natural.

It’s nonsense.

Notes

Dates of Note

70K Years ago: Cognitive Revolution
10K Years ago: Agricultural Revolution
500 Years ago: Scientific Revolution
70K Years ago: Cognitive Revolution

Story Arc

  • Homo sapiens is an animal, not much different than other hominids
  • It experienced a fluke in agriculture, a trap, which ultimately domesticated it versus the opposite
  • Using its exceptional cognitive power, humankind has learned to use fiction to bind itself in groups greater than ~150 individuals. Instead of being able to actually know, understand, respect, and accumulate a ledge of interpersonal bonds, we use these myths to scale to hitherto unimaginable communities
  • Science, Empire, and Capital have created feedback loops and reward circuits that the natural slow-paced evolution of the species via natural selection has been superseded by that triumvirate. Capital predicts that we will move to the end of the species (to a new kind of thing) soon.

Cognitive Revolution

  • Unknown cause (“The Tree of Knowledge” is a nice mythic metaphor)
  • Lead to the conquest of earth
  • Creates symbolic language that is neither purely descriptive (math)
    • It can be used to share survivability data (“Puma!”)
    • It can be used to facilitate medium-large scale communication (“He’s untrustworthy”)
    • BEST OF ALL it can communicate fictional realities, abstractions
    • Gods and religions, but also “money,” “trust,” or “joint-stock corporation.”
    • These imagined realities allow transcendence of physical immediacy and the here and now in exchange for ideas like the future or legal fictions like Pugeot
    • Note: these are not lies, but they are abstractions
    • Myths then change very fast; they can enable social revolution to happen at a pace that information-passed-by-gene could not approach
    • Sapiens can change its social and reproductive fate faster than genetics. The dictates of reproduction have been surpassed because we have language and mutually-imagined realities

Agricultural Revolution - History’s Biggest Fraud

  • Around 10K years ago
  • Lives spent manipulating plants and animals were taken instead of hunting and gathering
    • Hunting and gathering was physically less debilitating
    • The variety of maneuvers created lithe, flexible bodies
    • Hunter-Gatherers worked about 30 hours per week
  • It was a bad gig
  • We traded variety of food source, body health, ability to flee hostile situations for grain. Like slow-boiled frogs wheat and similar grains domesticated humanity for their own natural-selection ends
  • Further, we made genetic monocultures of crops and animals making them weaker, stupid, and more inclined to cultivate horrific diseases. These often hopped to humanity (where a h-g tribe was immune) creating our worst epidemics
  • [sgh] If anything, the Garden of Eden is the song of woe about losing this society

Scaling the Agricultural Tribe

  • We reach a top-limit on the number of inhabitants fairly quickly
  • To create brotherhood among the disparate, we use our cognitive power of imagined realities
  • To create an imagined realities
    1. Insist on its provenance from authority (Natural Law, Gods, Light of Nature)
    2. Indoctrinate communities in that authority
      • Grand Poobah’s wishes must be obeyed
    3. Suffuse that imagined reality throughout the physical world
      • “All land where the sun shines belong to Mufasa”
    4. Have it shape our desires
      • “Father maintains Mufasa’s forest, some day you can maintain Mufasa’s forest.”
    5. Create an inter-subjective reality
      • “What!? You don’t believe these are Mufasa’s trees? Do you not wish to anger him or his gods who gave us the law of the jungele?”

Certain Myths have Proven Most Robust

  1. Money: Capital transcends locality enabling movement and aggregation…
  2. Empire: Aggregation is asserted and enforced under threat of arms
  3. Religion: Behavior is driven by super-human threat

Science is a Type of Religion

  • It starts from a position of ignorance
  • It’s optimistic about the future
  • In this regard it’s a perfect partner to Capital and Empire

The Interaction of Science, Capital, and Empire

This will necessarily lead to all the outcomes that capital demands. Where there is a market, the product must be made. Where there is a limit, a zone where the limit can be disobeyed will be found for the right bidder.

This leads to multiple implementation options:

  • Designer humans
  • A computer assisted-cognitive leap occasioning the second cognitive revolution
  • The Singularity

Nevertheless we continue to grow in a way that outpaces the planet, its resources, and the fauna on it. In the midst of this we are anxious, disconnected, confused, and loaded on Soma or antidepressants.

Instead of growing like other apex predators, calm and comfortable, we move as nervous mid-food-chain scavengers (we were probably bone-cracking marrow-harvesters in our original ecological niche) …with atomic bombs.

Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?

Footnotes

  1. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, Man, or Sapiens, is in the image of God. That Sapiens either slew the other hominids or idly watched as they starved while we fed seems an oddly fitting retroactive continuity edit for us to explain us to ourselves.

JSON Highlights

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      "highlight": "The more eastern regions of Asia were populated by Homo erectus, ‘Upright Man’, who survived there for close to 2 million years, making it the most durable human species ever.",
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      "highlight": "It’s a common fallacy to envision these species as arranged in a straight line of descent, with Ergaster begetting Erectus, Erectus begetting the Neanderthals, and the Neanderthals evolving into us.",
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      "highlight": "It’s hardly a foregone conclusion that this is a good strategy for survival on the savannah. A chimpanzee can’t win an argument with a Homo sapiens, but the ape can rip the man apart like a rag doll.",
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      "highlight": "Having so recently been one of the underdogs of the savannah, we are full of fears and anxieties over our position, which makes us doubly cruel and dangerous.",
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      "highlight": "A single woman with a flint or fire stick could burn down an entire forest in a matter of hours. The domestication of fire was a sign of things to come.",
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      "highlight": "about 70,000 years ago, Sapiens from East Africa spread into the Arabian peninsula, and from there they quickly overran the entire Eurasian landmass.",
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      "highlight": "if the Interbreeding Theory is right, there might well be genetic differences between Africans, Europeans and Asians that go back hundreds of thousands of years. This is political dynamite, which could provide material for explosive racial theories.",
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      "highlight": "It turned out that 1–4 per cent of the unique human DNA of modern populations in the Middle East and Europe is Neanderthal DNA.",
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      "highlight": "it appears it was still just possible, on rare occasions, for a Sapiens and a Neanderthal to produce a fertile offspring.",
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      "highlight": "Tolerance is not a Sapiens trademark.",
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      "highlight": "Our lack of brothers and sisters makes it easier to imagine that we are the epitome of creation, and that a chasm separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.",
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      "highlight": "Had the Neanderthals survived, would we still imagine ourselves to be a creature apart? Perhaps this is exactly why our ancestors wiped out the Neanderthals. They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate.",
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      "highlight": "talking behind each other’s backs – a much maligned ability which is in fact essential for cooperation in large numbers.",
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      "highlight": "Rumour-mongers are the original fourth estate,",
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      "highlight": "Most likely, both the gossip theory and the there-is-a-lion-near-the-river theory are valid. Yet the truly unique feature of our language is not its ability to transmit information about men and lions. Rather, it’s the ability to transmit information about things that do not exist at all.",
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      "highlight": "In the US, the technical term for a limited liability company is a ‘corporation’, which is ironic, because the term derives from ‘corpus’ (‘body’ in Latin) – the one thing these corporations lack.",
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      "highlight": "all the proper liturgy and rituals, wrote all the required spells and oaths on a wonderfully decorated piece of paper, and affixed his ornate signature to the bottom of the document, then hocus pocus – a new company was incorporated.",
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      "highlight": "Unlike lying, an imagined reality is something that everyone believes in, and as long as this communal belief persists,",
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      "highlight": "In 1789 the French population switched almost overnight from believing in the myth of the divine right of kings to believing in the myth of the sovereignty of the people.",
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    {
      "highlight": "The Catholic Church has survived for centuries, not by passing on a ‘celibacy gene’ from one pope to the next, but by passing on the stories of the New Testament and of Catholic canon law.",
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    },
    {
      "highlight": "This environment gives us more material resources and longer lives than those enjoyed by any previous generation, but it often makes us feel alienated, depressed and pressured.",
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      "highlight": "A 15,000-year bond has yielded a much deeper understanding and affection between humans and dogs than between humans and any other animal.",
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    {
      "highlight": "The wholesome and varied diet, the relatively short working week, and the rarity of infectious diseases have led many experts to define pre-agricultural forager societies as ‘the original affluent societies’.",
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    {
      "highlight": "The moment the first hunter-gatherer set foot on an Australian beach was the moment that Homo sapiens climbed to the top rung in the food chain and became the deadliest species ever in the four-billion-year history of life on Earth.",
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      "highlight": "without drastically changing those habitats. The settlers of Australia, or more accurately, its conquerors, didn’t just adapt. They transformed the Australian ecosystem beyond recognition.",
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      "highlight": "the historical record makes Homo sapiens look like an ecological serial killer.",
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      "highlight": "the first wave of Sapiens colonisation was one of the biggest and swiftest ecological disasters to befall the animal kingdom.",
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      "highlight": "We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals",
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      "highlight": "All this changed about 10,000 years ago, when Sapiens began to devote almost all their time and effort to manipulating the lives of a few animal and plant species.",
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    },
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      "highlight": "the Agricultural Revolution left farmers with lives generally more difficult and less satisfying than those of foragers.",
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      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "and were less in danger of starvation and disease. The Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food at the disposal of humankind, but the extra food did not translate into a better diet or more leisure. Rather, it translated into population explosions and pampered elites.",
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      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "The average farmer worked harder than the average forager, and got a worse diet in return. The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud.",
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      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us.",
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      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "This is the essence of the Agricultural Revolution: the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions.",
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      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Why would any sane person lower his or her standard of living just to multiply the number of copies of the Homo sapiens genome? Nobody agreed to this deal: the Agricultural Revolution was a trap.",
      "location": 1334,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.",
      "location": 1401,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "It was no accident that kings and prophets styled themselves as shepherds and likened the way they and the gods cared for their people to a shepherd’s care for his flock.",
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      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "This discrepancy between evolutionary success and individual suffering is perhaps the most important lesson we can draw from the Agricultural Revolution.",
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      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "time and again how a dramatic increase in the collective power and ostensible success of our species went hand in hand with much individual suffering.",
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    },
    {
      "highlight": "limit to such long-term planning. Paradoxically, it saved foragers a lot of anxieties. There was no sense in worrying about things that they could not influence.",
      "location": 1580,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "The Agricultural Revolution made the future far more important than it had ever been before.",
      "location": 1581,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Myths, it transpired, are stronger than anyone could have imagined.",
      "location": 1627,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism?",
      "location": 1789,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "always insist that the order sustaining society is an objective reality",
      "location": 1790,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "educate people thoroughly.",
      "location": 1794,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "The imagined order is embedded in the material",
      "location": 1802,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "The imagined order shapes our desires.",
      "location": 1820,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "The imagined order is inter-subjective.",
      "location": 1853,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "When confronted with the need to memorise, recall and handle all these numbers, most human brains overdosed or fell asleep.",
      "location": 1933,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "In order to function, the people who operate such a system of drawers must be reprogrammed to stop thinking as humans and to start thinking as clerks and accountants. As everyone from ancient times till today knows, clerks and accountants think in a non-human fashion. They think like filing cabinets. This is not their fault. If they don’t think that way their drawers will all get mixed up and they won’t be able to provide the services their government, company or organisation requires.",
      "location": 2055,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "The most important impact of script on human history is precisely this: it has gradually changed the way humans think and view the world. Free association and holistic thought have given way to compartmentalisation and bureaucracy.",
      "location": 2059,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "The process that began in the Euphrates valley 5,000 years ago, when Sumerian geeks outsourced data-processing from the human brain to a clay tablet, would culminate in Silicon Valley with the victory of the tablet.",
      "location": 2088,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Hierarchies serve an important function. They enable complete strangers to know how to treat one another without wasting the time and energy needed to become personally acquainted.",
      "location": 2151,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "In most cases the hierarchy originated as the result of a set of accidental historical circumstances and was then perpetuated and refined over many generations as different groups developed vested interests in it.",
      "location": 2172,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "almost everywhere men have got the better deal, at least since the Agricultural Revolution.",
      "location": 2276,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, Culture forbids.’",
      "location": 2318,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "tolerate a very wide spectrum of possibilities. It’s culture that obliges people to realise some possibilities while forbidding others.",
      "location": 2319,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "In truth, our concepts ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ are taken not from biology, but from Christian theology. The theological meaning of ‘natural’ is ‘in accordance with the intentions of the God who created nature’. Christian theologians argued that God created the human body, intending each limb and organ to serve a particular purpose.",
      "location": 2325,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Next time a mosquito buzzes in your ear, accuse her of unnatural behaviour. If she were well behaved and content with what God gave her, she’d use her wings only as solar panels.",
      "location": 2340,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Males must prove their masculinity constantly, throughout their lives, from cradle to grave, in an endless series of rites and performances. And a woman’s work is never done – she must continually convince herself and others that she is feminine enough.",
      "location": 2377,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Success is not guaranteed. Males in particular live in constant dread of losing their claim to manhood. Throughout history, males have been willing to risk and even sacrifice their lives, just so that people will say ‘He’s a real man!’",
      "location": 2379,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Cognitive dissonance is often considered a failure of the human psyche. In fact, it is a vital asset.",
      "location": 2549,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Money is thus a universal medium of exchange that enables people to convert almost everything into almost anything else. Brawn gets converted to brain when a discharged soldier finances his college tuition with his military benefits. Land gets converted into loyalty when a baron sells property to support his retainers.",
      "location": 2757,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "It is even possible to convert sex into salvation, as fifteenth-century prostitutes did when they slept with men for money, which they in turn used to buy indulgences from the Catholic Church. Ideal types of money enable people not merely to turn one thing into another, but to store wealth as well.",
      "location": 2760,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.",
      "location": 2782,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Christians and Muslims who could not agree on religious beliefs could nevertheless agree on a monetary belief, because whereas religion asks us to believe in something, money asks us to believe that other people believe in something.",
      "location": 2869,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "money is also the apogee of human tolerance.",
      "location": 2873,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Money is based on two universal principles: a. Universal convertibility: with money as an alchemist, you can turn land into loyalty, justice into health, and violence into knowledge. b. Universal trust:",
      "location": 2877,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "If King David were to show up in an ultra-Orthodox synagogue in present-day Jerusalem, he would be utterly bewildered to find people dressed in East European clothes, speaking in a German dialect (Yiddish) and having endless arguments about the meaning of a Babylonian text (the Talmud). There were neither synagogues, volumes of Talmud, nor even Torah scrolls in ancient Judaea.",
      "location": 2986,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Evolution has made Homo sapiens, like other social mammals, a xenophobic creature. Sapiens instinctively divide humanity into two parts, ‘we’ and ‘they’.",
      "location": 3028,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "religion has been the third great unifier of humankind, alongside money and empires.",
      "location": 3217,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Religion can thus be defined as a system of human norms and values that is founded on a belief in a superhuman order.",
      "location": 3221,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "How can a monotheist adhere to such a dualistic belief (which, by the way, is nowhere to be found in the Old Testament)? Logically, it is impossible. Either you believe in a single omnipotent God or you believe in two opposing powers, neither of which is omnipotent. Still, humans have a wonderful capacity to believe in contradictions.",
      "location": 3419,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Scholars of religion have a name for this simultaneous avowal of different and even contradictory ideas and the combination of rituals and practices taken from different sources. It’s called syncretism. Syncretism might, in fact, be the single great world religion.",
      "location": 3434,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "In the end he came to the realisation that suffering is not caused by ill fortune, by social injustice, or by divine whims. Rather, suffering is caused by the behaviour patterns of one’s own mind.",
      "location": 3457,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Gautama’s insight was that no matter what the mind experiences, it usually reacts with craving, and craving always involves dissatisfaction. When the mind experiences something distasteful it craves to be rid of the irritation. When the mind experiences something pleasant, it craves that the pleasure will remain and will intensify. Therefore, the mind is always dissatisfied and restless.",
      "location": 3459,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Yet even when we experience pleasant things we are never content.",
      "location": 3463,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Gautama developed a set of meditation techniques that train the mind to experience reality as it is, without craving.",
      "location": 3476,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Capitalism – the most successful of the modern religions",
      "location": 3538,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "The Nazis did not loathe humanity. They fought liberal humanism, human rights and Communism precisely because they admired humanity (according to their notions of humanity) and believed",
      "location": 3602,
      "annotation": "Staggering"
    },
    {
      "highlight": "a huge gulf is opening between the tenets of liberal humanism and the latest findings of the life sciences, a gulf we cannot ignore much longer.",
      "location": 3625,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "This chapter looks at the unique nature of modern science in order to provide part of the answer. The next two chapters examine the formation of the alliance between science, the European empires and the economics of capitalism.",
      "location": 3822,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Two forces in particular deserve our attention: imperialism and capitalism. The feedback loop between science, empire and capital has arguably been history’s chief engine for the past 500 years.",
      "location": 4219,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "They may be fiercely anti-European in their rhetoric, but almost everyone on the planet views politics, medicine, war and economics through European eyes, and listens to music written in European modes with words in European languages.",
      "location": 4307,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "The Chinese and Persians did not lack technological inventions such as steam engines (which could be freely copied or bought). They lacked the values, myths, judicial apparatus and sociopolitical structures that took centuries to form and mature in the West and which could not be copied and internalised rapidly.",
      "location": 4335,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Both scientist and conqueror began by admitting ignorance – they both said, ‘I don’t know what’s out there.’ They both felt compelled to go out and make new discoveries. And they both hoped the new knowledge thus acquired would make them masters of the world.",
      "location": 4366,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "European imperialism was entirely unlike all other imperial projects in history. Previous seekers of empire tended to assume that they already understood the world. Conquest merely utilised and spread their view of the world.",
      "location": 4368,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "It sounds like a giant Ponzi scheme, doesn’t it? But if it’s a fraud, then the entire modern economy is a fraud. The fact is, it’s not a deception, but rather a tribute to the amazing abilities of the human imagination. What enables banks – and the entire economy – to survive and flourish is our trust in the future.",
      "location": 4728,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Capital trickles away from dictatorial states that fail to defend private individuals and their property. Instead, it flows into states upholding the rule of law and private property.",
      "location": 4910,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "While war became less profitable, peace became more lucrative than ever.",
      "location": 5773,
      "annotation": ""
    },
    {
      "highlight": "Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?",
      "location": 6452,
      "annotation": ""
    }
  ]
}