Thoughts from Linda:
This big concept book is the 3rd one by Harari, who is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, having received his PhD from the University of Oxford. He is all over YouTube and other websites so his talks are easily accessed.
He is a macro-historian and this is his third book, after Sapiens & Homo Deus. There are 21 chapters, and while it reads so well and does build on itself, it is also possible to roam around based on your specific area of interest. I began searching the Index, now with COVID-19 to see how he was dealing with the topic of a global pandemic as an existential issue. Interestingly enough, he hasn’t dealt with it other than through the really big existential issue of the environment of our planet. In many ways, you can just substitute the word, ‘pandemic’ for ‘global warming’ and follow the train of thought which is quite instructive.
In his Lesson on ‘The Political Challenge’ he does get to a central theme, which is at the core of our current situation, when he notes (page 84) “The merger of InfoTech and biotech threatens the core modern values of liberty and equality. Any solution to the technological challenge has to involve global cooperation. But nationalism, religion and culture divide humankind into hostile camps and make it very difficult to cooperate on a global level.”
So, woops, this is us!
He focuses on many big philosophical questions about what it means to be human, as he has done in his other books, but he’s clearly looking forward in this one. He tackles issues like ‘free will’ along with ‘how to build our identities’ in ways that help us to reinvent ourselves and preserve our own mental balance in the future in unfamiliar situations.
His book reflects a strong sense of urgency, as he notes “we have now run out of time” noting that the decisions we make in the next 10-20 years will shape as he says “the future of life itself.”
As we are now re-inventing our approach to education with our global pandemic, I think his final Section on Resilience is especially prescient. He asks the question: “How do you live in an age of bewilderment, when the olds stories have collapsed and no new story has yet emerged to replace them?”
There is good space in the book on education and the conundrum of what we should be teaching in our schools since we have no idea about what life will be like in 2050. His conclusions lead strongly to teaching the “4 C’s of: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.”
At DNA Consulting, we’re committed to teaching the practical tools of collaboration, so this is of course, a big area of interest to us.
This book is a very strong one for a team/family to explore together as “we are running out of time!”