Sapiens: Book Review

Reviews Feb 23, 2019

We are the product of our history. Like them or not, religions, empires, ideologies and money have shaped our history to make us what we are today. Despite everything, we, the egoistical species that named ourselves ‘Homo sapiens’ (the wise man) are also leading a quality of life that is objectively better in every metric today, than ever before.

Sapiens is easily the best book I have ever read. Through gripping pace of a fiction, the author presents the tale of mankind in a scientific manner, discussing various hypotheses and analysing them in a coherent narration. Evolutionary psychology, tracing the roots of complex human emotions and behaviour to our evolutionary roots is also discussed heavily. To a fertile mind, every line of this book is capable of starting deep discussions and arguments.

The author concludes the book with the question: ‘Are we objectively happier today than ever before?’. Of course this is impossible to answer, yet he defines three definitions for happiness, rooted in psychology in an attempt to approach it. My favourite one is: ‘Happiness is the degree to which one’s expectations are fulfilled’. This way, a peasant who spent his entire life in a Malaria infested slum 300 years ago might have had far fewer expectations and might have been happier than a today’s man who travels the world on vacations.

Some memorable quotes:

“History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was ploughing fields and carrying water buckets.”
“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.”

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