Yuval Noah Harari

Vintage Live Annual Lecture: Yuval Noah Harari

Does History Have a Direction?

May/
Sat 23 May 2015

Vintage Live Annual Lecture: Yuval Noah Harari

Does History Have a Direction?

Yuval Noah Harari
Sat 23 May 2015,

Is history just a random accumulation of accidents, or is it going in some definitive direction? This first Vintage Lecture by Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens, explores three possible directions of human history: power, unity and happiness.

As history unfolded, humankind has become ever more powerful. When history kick-started about 70,000 years ago, Homo sapiens was an insignificant ape in East Africa. Today we are the rulers of the planet, and soon we might upgrade ourselves into gods.

As history unfolded, humankind has become ever more united. Back in the Stone Age, humans lived in isolated tribes, and planet earth was an entire galaxy of separate human worlds. Today all humans are part of a single system. There are no longer any independent countries or authentic cultures, and everyone – Americans, Chinese, Israelis and Iranians – view physics, biology, economics and even politics in a similar way.

As history unfolded, did humans become happier? Is the average person today happier than in ancient or medieval times? Whereas the story of human power and unity is relatively straightforward, the story of human happiness is far less clear. There are good reasons to suspect that we are far more powerful and united than our ancestors – but not much happier.

The lecture builds on Yural Noah Harari’s remarkable book Sapiens, in which he examines the whole of human history. 100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

 

 

In association with/

Share this/

Related Events/