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The End of Homo Sapiens


(credit techinfopluz.)

In the seventeenth and final week of the course on the history of humanity Dr Hariri discuss the future and perhaps The End of Homo Sapiens. Over the last few decades humans began to bend and break the laws of natural selection, laws that have governed life on Earth for the past four billion years. New technologies such as genetic engineering and nanotechnology are giving us unprecedented abilities to design not only the world around us, but also our own bodies, our personalities, and our desires. How will this influence society and culture? Does anybody know where we are heading? What is the likely future of humankind?

In these lectures Dr Harari addresses the above questions. These are my notes taken from his course on Coursera. (more…)

And They Lived Happily Ever After

(Credit – Wikimedia)

Have 500 years of amazing discoveries, developments, and revolutions made people happier? Are people today happier than in the Middle Ages, or in the Stone Age? If not, what was the point of all these changes? Most history books ignore these issues, yet these are the most important questions we can ask about history. New studies in biology, economics, and psychology are offering fascinating insights into the history of human happiness.

In this week’s lecture Dr Harari of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem discusses happiness and how it is measured. We try to discover whether all the progress has made us happier. The following are my lecture notes created using the subtitles from the Coursera videos. (more…)

A Permanent Revolution

Dr. Yuval Harari

A Permanent Revolution

The Industrial Revolution opened an era of permanent revolution. The late modern socio-political order is constantly changing, never settling into any stable pattern. The pillars of human order—most notably, the family and the intimate community—are crumbling around us. How do humans deal with the resulting vacuum and chaos? How do society and politics function without stability? Is the world becoming more violent and dangerous, or is it actually more peaceful and secure than ever before?

In this week’s lecture form Dr Harari of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem we look at changes in communities and families and how those changes came about. The following are my lecture notes created using the subtitles from the Coursera videos. (more…)

The Industrial Revolution

Credit – scientificoatripalda.it

Dr Harari’s fourth lecture under the general heading of ”The Scientific Revolution” covers the Industrial Revolution.

During the last 200 years, the combination of science, imperialism and capitalism produced the Industrial Revolution. This revolution gave humankind control of enormous new energy resources, and enabled humankind to start manufacturing far more things than ever before, far more quickly, and far more cheaply. How did this change the global ecology, daily life, and human psychology?

This week’s lectures attempt to answer these questions. These are my lecture notes created using the subtitles from the Coursera videos.


The Capitalist Creed

(Credit – worldpublicunion.org)

The close ties between science and imperialism were in fact just one part of a more complex relationship. The third crucial member of this relationship was capitalism, which financed both science and empire, and which led to an unprecedented growth in the world economy. How does a capitalist economy function? How is it different from traditional economies? Is capitalism natural, or is it really a kind of religion?

In this lesson Dr Harari examined the rise of the capitalist economy and explained how it was closely connected with both modern science and European empires.

This week continues the theme  of “The Scientific RevolutionThese are my notes from Dr Harari’s  lectures. To create them I use the subtitles from his videos lectures presented by Coursera.org.  


The Marriage of Science and Empire

world map of piri reis (Credit – Wikimedia)

Continuing with the theme of “The Scientific Revolutionwe are looking this week at the Marriage of science and Empire. The introduction to this module tells us that modern science developed in alliance with the modern European empires. The conquest of new knowledge depended upon and made possible the conquest of new territories. What exactly the contribution of science was to the rise of the European empires, and the contribution of European empires to the development of science is what we will look at. We also explore why it all started in Europe, rather than in China, India, or the Middle East.

These are my notes from Dr Harari’s  lectures. To create them I use the subtitles from his videos lectures presented by Coursera.org.  

Scientific research can only flourish in alliance with religion, ideology or political force to justify the cost of the research. In exchange, the ideology influences the scientific agenda and determines what to do with the discoveries. To really understand the scientific revolution and its developments the ideological, political, and economic forces that shaped the sciences of physics, biology, and economics have to be considered. These ideologies pushed them towards certain destinations and not others. Of all the ideologies, political and economic forces that shaped modern science the two most important ones are European imperialism and capitalism. (more…)

The Discovery of Ignorance


(Credit – esri.com)

This week we began the fourth and last part of this course, “The Scientific Revolution“.  It is dedicated to the scientific revolution and its political, social, and economic implications.  The first lecture in this part of the course is entitled “The Discovery of Ignorance“.  The process of human unification was completed during the last 500 years. At the same time, there has been an explosive growth in the power of humankind due, above all, to the discoveries of modern science. Humankind has become increasingly convinced that the only thing that limits its power is its own ignorance, and that the discovery of new knowledge can enable it to do almost anything.  This lecture looks at how the modern scientific tradition is different from all previous traditions of knowledge and what accounts for its sudden rise and unparalleled achievements.

Dr Harari from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem continues his lectures on the history of humanity by discussing these topics.  In this lecture he looks at the importance of the discovery of ignorance.

Here are my notes from his lectures on Coursera.org.  


A status update

To all who use my course notes.

This is one of the charities that I support. The group has raised 50% of their target. They have a lovely book that you can download for free. Will you help them along the way to providing safe water for the world’s inhabitants?

“No donation is too small, no thought insignificant.”

Of Words and Water

It’s been almost four months since Of Words and Water was published. Let’s take a look at one of the important numbers connected with this publication. No, not downloads, even though they are very interesting to follow. No, what I’m talking about are the donations for WaterAid – the reason why we put together this anthology in the first place. Well, one of the main reasons anyway (another being our love for words).
After almost four months we’ve actually managed to raise half of our target of £500 with a total of 22 donations.

To all of you who have donated to the cause and downloaded the anthology we would like to say a huge thank you! Thank you for backing us up, for reading our words, and helping to improve access to clean water in some of the world’s poorest communities by donating to our cause – all the…

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The Law of Religion

(Credit – college.wfu.edu)

Ever since the agricultural revolution the main direction of human history has been towards unity. The unification of humankind was driven forward by three main forces, money, empires, and religions

Lecture 10 continues the subject of the unification of humankind with the third force that shaped the process of human unification, religion. The role of religion in history is extremely controversial. Some see religion as the root of all evil, while for others it is the primary source of happiness, empathy, and progress. Can we arrive at a balanced judgement? What were the main landmarks in the religious history of the world? In what ways did different cultures understand the universe, distinguish good from evil, and explain the ubiquitous presence of suffering?

Dr Harari from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem continues his lectures on the history of humanity by discussing these topics.  He offers a very brief history of religion focusing on the critical role that religions played in uniting humankind and, the whole world into a single system.

Here are my notes from his lectures on Coursera.org.  


Imperial Visions

Credit: Google Maps

At the time of the agricultural revolution the world was divided into thousands of small, separate and relatively simple human societies. As time went by these societies combined to form larger and more complex societies until the entire world became a single, global system. This unification of human kind was driven forward by three main forces; money, empires and religions. We examined the role of money and trade in lecture 8. This lesson focuses on the part played by conquerors and empires.

This section continues the subject of “The Unification of Humankind” and Dr. Yuval Noah Harari  speaks about imperialism. The idea of empire is seen today in a very negative light, but empires have played such a central role in human history that it’s hard to regard them as totally evil. We look at what exactly is an empire and how they have succeeded in uniting different ecological regions, ethnic groups, and religious communities. We discuss how the positive contribution of empires with their record of violence and oppression can be balanced and what the future of the imperial ideal holds, whether the world is destined to be ruled by a new global empire.

These are my course notes from the course “A Brief History of Humankind” and are the lectures and opinions of Dr. Harari. (more…)