Yuval Noah Hurari (2011) Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind.


I bought this book about two years ago, started reading it and put it in a wicker basket at the side of the couch. It got covered by other books, but like yeast it worked its way to the surface and into my consciousness and left its thumb-print on me, which will fade, indeed, has faded, because I’m pretty dumb. By now, of course, Yuval Noah Harari has a follow-up book out, which I also intend to buy (and leave in a wicker basket by the side of the couch).

You might want to look at the growth and timeline of ‘An Animal of No Significance’ in the first chapter and flash forward a couple of million years, jump another 70 000 years and 466 pages later  ‘The End of Homo Sapiens, Afterword: The Animal that Became a God’, or you might want to watch a few episodes of Star Trek, because really its always about us and them. A puny species learned to walk upright, make flint tools, gossip about their neighbours and wipe out all other species. We’re getting pretty good at it now. We started with fire and domesticated animals and the animals domesticated us. Fire, physics, chemistry, biology and back to DNA and fire and blood again.

From hunter gatherers with little impact on the earth

[to] an orgy of reckless consumption…Much of the vaunted material wealth that shields us from disease and famine was accumulated at the expense of laboratory monkeys, dairy cows and conveyor-belt chickens. Over the last two-centuries tens of billions of them have been subjected to a regime of industrial exploitation whose cruelty has no precedent in the annals of planet Earth. If we accept a mere tenth of what animal-rights activists are claiming, then modern industrial agriculture might well be the greatest crime in history. When  evaluating global happiness, it is wrong to count the happiness only of the upper classes, of Europeans, or men. Perhaps it is also wrong to consider only the happiness of humans.

Bioethics asks ‘what is it forbidden to do’?

The answer is we’ve already done it and likely to do so again. Man is not to be trusted. We need more Spocks and Captain Kirks to rescue mankind from evolving into a giant hamburger that eats itself, throws up, doesn’t leave a tip, and laughs at its own jokes, or is that just me?

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