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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?
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…)
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…)
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 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.
Continuing with the theme of “The Scientific Revolution“ we 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.
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…)
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.