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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
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Sapiens Quotes (showing 1-30 of 2,219)
“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behaviour, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Consistency is the playground of dull minds.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“The romantic contrast between modern industry that “destroys nature” and our ancestors who “lived in harmony with nature” is groundless. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinctions. We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of life.”
Yuval Noah Harari, From Animals into Gods: A Brief History of Humankind
“According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify. People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them. This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices. In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realise how pointless it is to pursue them. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust – but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasising about what might have been. The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it. It is like a man standing for decades on the seashore, embracing certain ‘good’ waves and trying to prevent them from disintegrating, while simultaneously pushing back ‘bad’ waves to prevent them from getting near him. Day in, day out, the man stands on the beach, driving himself crazy with this fruitless exercise. Eventually, he sits down on the sand and just allows the waves to come and go as they please. How peaceful!”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was ploughing fields and carrying water buckets.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Biology enables, Culture forbids.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“This is the essence of the Agricultural Revolution: the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“The capitalist and consumerist ethics are two sides of the same coin, a merger of two commandments. The supreme commandment of the rich is ‘Invest!’ The supreme commandment of the rest of us is ‘Buy!’ The capitalist–consumerist ethic is revolutionary in another respect. Most previous ethical systems presented people with a pretty tough deal. They were promised paradise, but only if they cultivated compassion and tolerance, overcame craving and anger, and restrained their selfish interests. This was too tough for most. The history of ethics is a sad tale of wonderful ideals that nobody can live up to. Most Christians did not imitate Christ, most Buddhists failed to follow Buddha, and most Confucians would have caused Confucius a temper tantrum. In contrast, most people today successfully live up to the capitalist–consumerist ideal. The new ethic promises paradise on condition that the rich remain greedy and spend their time making more money and that the masses give free reign to their cravings and passions and buy more and more. This is the first religion in history whose followers actually do what they are asked to do. How though do we know that we'll really get paradise in return? We've seen it on television.”
Yuval Noah Harari, קיצור תולדות האנושות
“So, monotheism explains order, but is mystified by evil. Dualism explains evil, but is puzzled by order. There is one logical way of solving the riddle: to argue that there is a single omnipotent God who created the entire universe – and He’s evil. But nobody in history has had the stomach for such a belief.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“happiness does not really depend on objective conditions of either wealth, health or even community. Rather, it depends on the correlation between objective conditions and subjective expectations.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“As far as we can tell from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan, and if planet earth were to blow up tomorrow morning, the universe would probably keep going about its business as usual. As far as we can tell at this point, human subjectivity would not be missed. Hence any meaning that people inscribe to their lives is just a delusion.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Voltaire said about God that ‘there is no God, but don’t tell that to my servant, lest he murder me at night’. Hammurabi would have said the same about his principle of hierarchy, and Thomas Jefferson about human rights. Homo sapiens has no natural rights, just as spiders, hyenas and chimpanzees have no natural rights. But don’t tell that to our servants, lest they murder us at night.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Each year the US population spends more money on diets than the amount needed to feed all the hungry people in the rest of the world.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Evolution has made Homo sapiens, like other social mammals, a xenophobic creature. Sapiens instinctively divide humanity into two parts, ‘we’ and ‘they’.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Nothing captures the biological argument better than the famous New Age slogan: ‘Happiness begins within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“How can we distinguish what is biologically determined from what people merely try to justify through biological myths? A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, Culture forbids.’ Biology is willing to tolerate a very wide spectrum of possibilities. It’s culture that obliges people to realize some possibilities while forbidding others. Biology enables women to have children – some cultures oblige women to realize this possibility. Biology enables men to enjoy sex with one another – some cultures forbid them to realize this possibility. Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behavior, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist.”
Yuval Noah Harari, קיצור תולדות האנושות
“Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths. Any large-scale human cooperation – whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe – is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“in order to change an existing imagined order, we must first believe in an alternative imagined order.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“Domesticated chickens and cattle may well be an evolutionary success story, but they are also among the most miserable creatures that ever lived. The domestication of animals was founded on a series of brutal practices that only became crueller with the passing of the centuries.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“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.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
“In the 300 years of the crucifixion of Christ to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, polytheistic Roman emperors initiated no more than four general persecutions of Christians. Local administrators and governors incited some anti-Christian violence of their own. Still, if we combine all the victims of all these persecutions, it turns out that in these three centuries the polytheistic Romans killed no more than a few thousand Christians. In contrast, over the course, of the next 1,500 years, Christians slaughtered Christians by the millions, to defend slightly different interpretations of the religion of love and compassion.”
Yuval Noah Harari, קיצור תולדות האנושות

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