After reading “Sapiens” and “Homo Deus” by Harrari, the concept of algorithms has had my mind in a chokehold. His argument, based on the biological sciences, is that organisms are algorithms. Essentially, all living things are complex mathematical equations. All organisms adhere to this law, and therefore, are strictly influenced by their genes/DNA and their environment. In the case of homo sapiens, that not only means that we have no soul, but that our concepts of free-will or choice are entirely illusory.
We are the product of a predetermined cocktail of biochemical reactions that fuel not only our physical makeup but literally every decision that we make. I will not go into too much detail, because I am by no means an expert on the subject. But, nonetheless, the concept has been intriguing beyond measure. On top of that, he argues that religion, politics, culture…are all intersubjective myths that humans have imagined and created. They don’t exist because they are objective realities, they exist because humans believe in them.
At the fundamental core of our species, it is not our big brains or our tool-making ability which has allowed us to conquer the planet (although they certainly help) but our ability to fluidly cooperate with one another on a mass scale. We create myths such as capitalism, individual rights, the United Nations, and they continue to exist because a majority of people believe in them. Despite being social constructs, people buy into them to the degree that they hold tremendous sway over our modern culture. They are not biological necessities, but they nevertheless exist because we have deemed them to be good for our species.
I am probably a little all over the place, and this is by no means a book review so I will stick with the topics that have piqued my interest. He breaks down our past and present into manageable subjects and covers them with a succinctness that I am incapable of doing so at the moment. So I will leave it to a few vague overarching concepts which he presents.
Money is more powerful than religion because I do not have to believe in it… I have to believe that other people believe in it. It works because everyone believes that everyone else believes in it.
Modern society scoffs at empires and empirical conquest and rule, yet most of our modern culture is the direct result of a handful of empires that have absorbed and assimilated thousands of other cultures.
Liberalism is based on inalienable rights of the individual, which all humans possess because we are all unique and equal members of the same global species. We are all homo sapiens.
Socialism is based on the greater good of the species as a whole. While many liberals are severely concerned with individual rights, I feel as if they are largely socialist considering their outspoken beliefs about inequality, the wage gap etc.
Animism, deism, theism, and all religious views are powerful generators of delusion. Religions are human concepts founded on the basis of a superhuman power. Dualism (typically the belief in good and evil) is found in most, if not all religious concepts.
Traveling the world is romanticized capitalism which we have been convinced to believe is good for us.
The aforementioned concepts are intersubjective myths that homo sapiens have created. None of them are objective realities. All of our cultures, material goods, religious beliefs, economic structures, and political views are the products of our collective imagination. There is no legitimacy to them other than the legitimacy that a majority of people have given them.
I have covered only a handful of subjects from these two excellent books, and by covered…I mean hinted at them conceptually. I highly recommend reading both “Sapiens” and “Homo Deus” for a concise, entertaining, and unbiased view of our past, present, and even our future. They should be required reading to receive a high school diploma, and I believe our country, and indeed maybe even the world, would be a far better place. I have been waiting for books like these for more than a decade, and I will never look at the world or homo sapiens the same way ever again.