BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週二 3月 13, 2018 9:59 am

(03/12/18)
Michael: So, no animals have self-awareness, right? Yes or No?

We-han:
The reason I mentioned about the apple is because it was from 知善惡樹 in bible. The meme helped me reminisce this story from Genesis. But I guess we had discussed those in justice session
but michael's questions is very interesting, can a pig, one of animals with high intellegence, be aware of itself as a "pig"? (the PIG here is just for reading, it could be a different "sound" in PIG world)

Rock:
Tina would say yes. I don't see why a pig can't while a dog can have an awareness. But certainly their recognitions of "dogs" and "pig" are different from us.

Wen-han:
or maybe Tanya could further chime in for what the benefits are to our mental state without consciousness being developed?

Tanya:
ummm can l use meme again? l found myself too lazy to type....
(The mental states: worries, (basically thinking too much…caused all the “miserable feelings”)

Luis: So, without consciousness 就…不會想太多了…
Michael: Haha, yeah, this meme is so inspiring! Good! 很多事情都是人類自尋煩惱. But then again, how do you 不要想太多? It is difficult to control your own consciousness

Sherry:
My opinion is different on this issue. I think human consciousness is a vital asset for Sapiens.
I think the author holds a similar view. OK, maybe not so similar… :p
In Chapter 9, Harari points out that “Cognitive dissonance is often considered a failure of the human psyche. In fact, it is a vital asset. Had people been unable to hold contradictory beliefs and values, it would probably have been impossible to establish and maintain any human culture.
Human, as an individual, may suffer from consciousness and all the conflicts that come along with. But that’s what keeps the whole society moving forward.
If one day I lose the ability to think, I think I would rather die. (Seriously)

Rock: Then you don't know what "want to die" is, how do you die?

Sherry: To lose the ability to think and to die, I choose that latter

Rock: Do trees care about being cut down? Does a carrot care about being pulled off the ground?

Wen-han: for the sake of philosophical discussion, lossing consciousness doesn't mean you don't think. That's a philosophical zombie assumption. In reality, the ultimate goal of AI is to make the "thing" think as we do. But it's impossible, as I know, to code "consciousness". Religiously, someone believe it's the soul.

Sherry: I know nothing about philosophy... but in psychology, losing a conscious mind means losing brain functions that involved in cognition. That's what I meant

Wen-han:
That's the view inclining to biology or medical. But nowadays, it's very possible to train the machines to think, which is a known fact. But consciousness, is a different matter. So, don't rush signing up to die yet:)
actually I just had an idea. What if consciousness is the necessary stop for evolution? I am saying this for that maybe one day, once the AI think deep and hard enought, it may come out its own consciousness, breaking the knowledge barrier to cognition territory.

:
:
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週二 3月 13, 2018 10:05 am

(03/13/18)
Iris:
From what I read in this discussion thread (and maybe some of my comments added):
Question: Are sapiens more miserable? (Does evolution bring us more well-being or suffering?)
Arguments:
    1) Evolution of genes is neutral; it has NO feelings.
    2) From biological point of view, evolution has no purpose. We don’t have good explanations for many things occurred in the whole evolution process.
    3) But, somehow a serious “misstep of evolution” happened – Human consciousness or our self-awareness.
    4) Why so? Why is it a misstep?
    5) Human consciousness/self-awareness made us think and work and feel under this illusion of self.
    6) All the positive and negative mental states (feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, happiness or misery) caused and accreted by the consciousness/self-awareness.
    7) Human consciousness:
      a. Caused and enhanced the miserable feelings as described in (6)
      b. Gives the evolution a sense of “humanity”: People even choose to exist with it over just living without it (the consciousness).
    8 ) A double-edged sword: Human consciousness
      a. Makes human beings so miserable that we should all go extinct all together!
      “I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We are too self-aware…under the illusion of having a self… (we were) programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody's nobody... I think the honorable thing for our species to do is to deny our programming. Stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction.”
      – quoted from “True Detective”
      b. Gives the evolution a sense of “humanity”: It may also create a fork in the evolutionary road, the biological evolution and cultural evolution. The latter was probably defined and evolved in our human conscious order. We became more self-awareness, more powerful and more aggressive (relative to other animals) along with the accretion of our sensory experience and feelings and desire. But what would it lead us to? AI, Cyborgs and something more destructive to the whole human race? Can we really manage the “consciousness in the evolution”?
    9) Either way, sapiens may be just part of a game. Somewhere it was given the “consciousness” to start its own game playing in the bigger game plot. But at the end, the game will be just over, no matter what?
Iris Wu
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 1:49 pm

03/12/18:
Michael: So, no animals have self-awareness, right? Yes or No?

We-han:
The reason I mentioned about the apple is because it was from 知善惡樹 in bible. The meme helped me reminisce this story from Genesis. But I guess we had discussed those in justice session
but michael's questions is very interesting, can a pig, one of animals with high intellegence, be aware of itself as a "pig"? (the PIG here is just for reading, it could be a different "sound" in PIG world)

Rock:
Tina would say yes. I don't see why a pig can't while a dog can have an awareness. But certainly their recognitions of "dogs" and "pig" are different from us.

Wen-han:
or maybe Tanya could further chime in for what the benefits are to our mental state without consciousness being developed?

Tanya:
ummm can l use meme again? l found myself too lazy to type....
(The mental states: worries, (basically thinking too much…caused all the “miserable feelings”)

Luis: So, without consciousness 就…不會想太多了…
Michael: Haha, yeah, this meme is so inspiring! Good! 很多事情都是人類自尋煩惱. But then again, how do you 不要想太多? It is difficult to control your own consciousness

Sherry:
My opinion is different on this issue. I think human consciousness is a vital asset for Sapiens.
I think the author holds a similar view. OK, maybe not so similar… :p
In Chapter 9, Harari points out that “Cognitive dissonance is often considered a failure of the human psyche. In fact, it is a vital asset. Had people been unable to hold contradictory beliefs and values, it would probably have been impossible to establish and maintain any human culture.
Human, as an individual, may suffer from consciousness and all the conflicts that come along with. But that’s what keeps the whole society moving forward.
If one day I lose the ability to think, I think I would rather die. (Seriously)

Rock: Then you don't know what "want to die" is, how do you die?

Sherry: To lose the ability to think and to die, I choose that latter

Rock: Do trees care about being cut down? Does a carrot care about being pulled off the ground?

Wen-han: for the sake of philosophical discussion, lossing consciousness doesn't mean you don't think. That's a philosophical zombie assumption. In reality, the ultimate goal of AI is to make the "thing" think as we do. But it's impossible, as I know, to code "consciousness". Religiously, someone believe it's the soul.

Sherry: I know nothing about philosophy... but in psychology, losing a conscious mind means losing brain functions that involved in cognition. That's what I meant

Wen-han:
That's the view inclining to biology or medical. But nowadays, it's very possible to train the machines to think, which is a known fact. But consciousness, is a different matter. So, don't rush signing up to die yet:)
actually I just had an idea. What if consciousness is the necessary stop for evolution? I am saying this for that maybe one day, once the AI think deep and hard enough, it may come out its own consciousness, breaking the knowledge barrier to cognition territory.
Iris Wu
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文章: 530
註冊時間: 週二 5月 20, 2014 4:33 pm

Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 1:51 pm

(03/13/18)
Iris:
From what I read in this discussion thread (and maybe some of my comments added):
Question: Are sapiens more miserable? (Does evolution bring us more well-being or suffering?)
Arguments:
1) Evolution of genes is neutral; it has NO feelings.
2) From biological point of view, evolution has no purpose. We don’t have good explanations for many things occurred in the whole evolution process.
3) But, somehow a serious “misstep of evolution” happened – Human consciousness or our self-awareness.
4) Why so? Why is it a misstep?
5) Human consciousness/self-awareness made us think and work and feel under this illusion of self.
6) All the positive and negative mental states (feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, happiness or misery) caused and accreted by the consciousness/self-awareness.
7) Human consciousness:
    a. Caused and enhanced the miserable feelings as described in (6)
    b. Gives the evolution a sense of “humanity”: People even choose to exist with it over just living without it (the consciousness).
(8) A double-edged sword: Human consciousness
    a. Makes human beings so miserable that we should all go extinct all together!
    “I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We are too self-aware…under the illusion of having a self… (we were) programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody's nobody... I think the honorable thing for our species to do is to deny our programming. Stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction.”
    – quoted from “True Detective”
    b. Gives the evolution a sense of “humanity”: It may also create a fork in the evolutionary road, the biological evolution and cultural evolution. The latter was probably defined and evolved in our human conscious order. We became more self-awareness, more powerful and more aggressive (relative to other
animals) along with the accretion of our sensory experience and feelings and desire. But what would it lead us to? AI, Cyborgs and something more destructive to the whole human race? Can we really manage the “consciousness in the evolution”?
9) Either way, sapiens may be just part of a game. Somewhere it was given the “consciousness” to start its own game playing in the bigger game plot. But at the end, the game will be just over, no matter what?
Iris Wu
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文章: 530
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 1:52 pm

(03/13/18)
Sherry:
In response to 8b, I think last Saturday David provided a good answer. Human are getting crazier. Nuclear bomb or some even more devastating weapons will finally destroy us. At that time AI, contrary to expectation, may be the only solution. Survivors may have to live underground, relying on machines and robots doing all the work on the harmful radiation and toxic smoke-laden earth.
It’s my understanding that hundreds of thousand years ago, because of severe weather or some other reasons, human almost went extinct several times. Sapiens are the offspring of a few survivors – descendants of Mitochondrial Eve, because gene mutation happened in one of their common ascendant.
That could happen again, right? This time human consciousness make us kill each other and Sapiens will almost go extinct again. Mutation may happen in one of the few survivors and leave next human species new genes.
As Holmes said, "There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before."

Wen-han: Hi Iris, what did you mean "manage the consciousness in the evolution"? mind catering more specifics?

Iris: What I meant was "When we advance to the true AI, (maybe it will take time, but my assumption is we will get there), will we be able to manage the "soul/consciousness" built in these new 'species'?"

Wen-han: Hi Iris, thanks for the explanation. If the AI does have the consciousness as we have now, I suppose it is the free mind and it's beyond our control. Even we add a rule as no killing to AI

Iris: I thought about that, but I guess I’d better not get into the multi-layer game conspiracy. I mean if we were programmed by our “lords” and we create AI and they start their own game.... Can we just hit the “reset” button and say “Game Over”? (Ok, ignore it, I got carried away....)

Wen-han: any defensive mechanism could be cracked, especially in the exponential speed of hundred or thousand CPUs

Rock: It seems I am the only one who believes a bright future of human beings. So sad…

Wen-han: not really, I am also the one believing it will be better too
Rock: Good. +1
Wen-han: isn't it also in the last chapter of this book? I buy "it" anyway.
Iris: We haven’t got there, so we are still struggling with our fate and destination! :)
Are you sure his follow-up book, “A Brief History of Tomorrow”, says the future is shining bright? :)

Weh-han: I don't know, I have not read it yet....but in the last chapter of this book, it is
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 1:55 pm

(03/18/18)
Iris:
Part III: The Unification of Humankind
Some questions:
• Is the world really more unified?
• If so, what areas/aspects make you think humankind are more unified, living conditions, education system, human rights, arts, dress code, food, our value systems….?
• Theoretically, the more unified we are, the more peaceful the world should be, isn’t it?
• But do human beings live more harmoniously? Is the world more peaceful?
• If yes, what will the unification process lead us to?
• If no, why can’t the unification result in peace?

(03/19/18)
Iris:
I guess I have to answer my own silly questions.

On the surface, the world seems to be more unified from physical environment to our value systems. The metropolitan areas are very similar around the world and basic human rights tend to be cross-border standards now; even arts, many traditional customs, local arts (including music, fine arts, handcrafts, etc.) are dying out, but pop music prevails all over the world.

If the world is more unified, theoretically people should be more alike, and less conflicting, but it doesn’t seem to be the case, right? My “theory” is this:
When people see many variety of things, we are less likely to emphasize our differences against others; but if we only see 2-3 things, it’s so easy for us to focus on the differences and generalize the contrast, then, things are easy to be polarized. Our religion systems, political parties, social classes and even the justice concepts are more unified in terms of variety, but the divide among the selections seems to be more profound. And so, the world becomes more polarized and harder to reconcile.
(“Footprints in the sand show where one has been.” )

Rock:
Hi, Iris, your questions are big questions, not silly at all. I didn't answer them at once because I was trying to review what I read to get my answers more relevant.
Before that, here are some personal thought. The world is getting more unified, but not there yet. People are still very divided into groups. In the group, they are more alike. Outside the group, they are so different. Christianity is very different from Muslim. I totally agree with you. But look inside the group. Take Taiwan, for example. Things are getting chaotic, why? I remember Dr. Harari mentioned something about it. But I cannot recall it now.... Gotta do some review before I answer it.

Is it possible that there are more fighting because we are in this unified culture of fighting....
https://erenow.com/common/sapiensbriefhistory/

Iris: Thanks, Rock! You said it well, “In the group, they are more alike. Outside the group, they are so different.”
That’s much easier to understand than my long statements! :)
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 1:56 pm

(03/20/18)
Sherry:
Hi Iris, the questions are so difficult to me that I need to think carefully before expressing myself. :p
1) Yes. I do believe that the world has been on the way to be unified. I believe, as Harari implied at the end of chapter 11, sooner or later a single global empire will be forged to solve the global problems and to protect the interests of the entire human species.
2) All aspects you mentioned are factors that make humankind more unified. In fact, I think the rest of the world has gradually adopted and adapted to Western culture, including Western ideologies such as liberalism and capitalism.
3) Actually I don’t agree with this theory. I think there are many variables between unification and world peace.
4) 4, 6) (This is the most difficult part) In my opinions, the chaos and conflicts are result of rapid social change, which is influenced by economic and technological development. Human’s lifestyle changed mildly in the past millennia. Hundreds of years ago, if my father and I were carpenters, my son stood a good chance of becoming a carpenter, too. But today the scale and speed of social transformation are beyond imagination. We don’t know how to cope with smartphone addiction because there was even no smartphone 20 years ago. We don’t know what the world would look like 10 years from now... and thanks to social media, information and fake news transmit parallelly at high speeds.
These are the main reasons. Not much to do with unification, I think.

Rock: Hey, Sherry, you are good, as always. It's so clearly conveyed. Almost like you were talking in front of us.

Iris:
1) Tashi: Thanks for the update!
From what I know of you, I think you will love this part (The Agricultural Revolution). You will be, like many of us, deeply troubled and touched by the author’s blunt descriptions about our own species!
Hope you have time to continue the reading. It should be a well worth journey!
2) Sherry: I cannot agree more with Rock; your thoughts were so clearly conveyed! (Your logic was well interwoven, I think other than Wen-han, nobody dares to challenge that! )
3) I am not sure the quality of these questions; the only thing I can be sure is that they are “authentic”. That’s why I really appreciate our readers gave some thoughts to these questions, it doesn’t matter if you answer them in writing or not.
4) As Sherry and Rock pointed out, we may not put equation between the unification and world peace. It would be oversimplified.
5) As far as the rapid change results in chaos and conflicts, let’s chat more later.
Iris Wu
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 1:58 pm

(3/22/18)
Kooper:
I just finished chapter 6, right at the dawn of writing era, so I am not ready to answer the questions about human unification yet.
The author however has broken many of my preconceptions. Reading the book is a mind-blowing experience~

(03/23/18)
Tanya:
I love fried chicken, and l believe the author does, too.
The modern way of producing meat and dairy is quite efficient, therefore, it brings the price down, and a good sign for people like me, who is broke and unemployed.
If you want to make the animals to feel comfy(or to make yourself feel less guilty), that means we need to increase costs,(I heard) the price of an egg will be raised from 3NT to 10NT. You need to know that there are a lot of exploited labors and poor people living in Taiwan, accessing to affordable meat products in their daily life. What do you think about them? having intrinsic interest in them, too?
p.384 “Most people who produce and consume eggs, milk and meat rarely stop to think about the fate of the chickens, cows or pigs whose flesh and emissions they are eating.”

I found the chapter is out of the range of this month

Wen-han:
It's OK Tanya, but what did you mean "what do you think about them"? You referred to the unfairly treated labors only or relationship between those labors with food?

Tanya: food & labors

Sherry:
Hi Tanya, you almost finished the book. It’s amazing! Although I haven’t read the chapter, I too have had the same thought. Still we can do something for it.
As an exploited and poor labor, I think I can still afford those eco-friendly and animal-friendly food products if I reduce spending on clothing, cosmetics, 3C products, and travelling. Harari indicates that our desires are shaped by the imagined order: "People today spend a great deal of money on holidays abroad because they are true believers in the myths of romantic consumerism" (chapter 6). I think I started to buy into this concept. :p

Also, after reading part II of this book, I have gradually lowered consumption on meat and dairy products. But I am not sure if it’s good or not.
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 2:01 pm

(03/23/18)
Wen-han:
Hi Tanya, for your question, in a wider scope, I am thinking it's the very same reason which had brought our ancestors from foragers to farmers. However, for my own opinion, it's very subjective to decide if you call it a vicious cycle or necessary evil.

Rock: @Tanya , you just brought a very good topic for further discussion. I personally agree with your idea because I love fried chicken, too.

Tanya: can you give me some more examples of vicious cycle?

Rock: Please don't discuss it when Ramesh is around, though. It will be very hard to stop him. He is literally unstoppable. (Haha!)
Rock: @Sherry , I guess you will consider quitting meat after watching Factory Farm.

Kat:
Setting aside the labor aspect of the meat production industry, its environmental and other impacts is such that the very system is simply not sustainable: Giving up beef alone can do more than giving up cars towards reducing our carbon footprint; The consumption of real meat and processed meat is linked to the risk of cancer; The global fish stock is said to be depleted by 2048… Our diet must change, or we’ll be forced to do so. For reports and numbers to inform ourselves:
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/201 ... gbooktalk/
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/grub-str ... 15338.html

Speaking like a vegan, ha ha.

Tanya:
I agree with Kat’s the opinion towards sustainability in producing protein-rich foods.

Due to inadequate protein intake, hundreds of millions of people are suffering from nutritional deficiencies. Unfortunately, the demand for protein will only increase by time. The mass production of protein-rich foods can also cause environmental problems, such as emissions from livestock, water and soil pollution, and damaging the diversity of wild animals. Producing goods in sustainable approaches, but with higher efficiency and lower costs.
Improving quantity and quality of the foods through new technology (processing, storage, distribution) or the new policies on supply chains worldwide.
Maybe by changing dietary practice will make some differences in the future (animal-based to plant-based).
One phenomenon observed by me: When people got wealthier, they tend to consume more meat. The reasons behind this trend might be the concept of eating meat means good life, more nutritious or simply more tasty. By the way, 67% of my daily protein intake is from eggs and soybean now.

Luis:
it seems there still are some scientists arguing that fossil fuel consumption sectors contribute more greenhouse gases than that from livestock, which is to say livestock is not to blame for a lion's share of greenhouse gasses emission, though anti animal-agriculture advocates might not agree. at the end of the day, we are only humans haa~ XD
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 2:04 pm

(03/24/18)
Iris:
On a personal level, I am not a fan of fried chicken and most of meat products, so it is relatively easier for me to choose alternative proteins and feel less guilty; but when it gets to a group level, it is very difficult to dine and wine them splendidly in the meantime serve with a side dish of “guilt”. The resistance will always be there. The animal farm and meat production reality is another inconvenient truth that most of us don’t want to face.

“Food sustainability concern” is a better approach, educational and less judgmental which is (a bit) easier to be accepted. Another alternative brewing is the development of “cultured meat/lab-grown meat” which has been sponsored by a few tech giants, such as Bill Gates, Google cofounder Sergey Brin, and two Twitter founders for some time already. Combining the effort in food science, biotechnology, and tissue engineering to develop new meat substitutes, again, won’t be a perfect solution, but for me, it is promising to help save the planet, maintain the health and satisfy the meat cravings.

@Kooper: I feel I am traveling at a snail’s pace as well…. You are not alone!
Bill Gates asked his wife to read the book before their family trip, so they could discuss it on the road… It sounds nerdy, but why people feel “mind-blowing”? The author does reveal quite a lot of inconvenient truths about our own species, doesn’t he?
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 2:05 pm

(03/31/18)
Iris:
Yes, Tashi, I think we all went through the same ordeal. The graphic details are hard to stomach and the feelings are overwhelming!

Dear Sapiens Readers:
It’s end of March. I am sure we all have sailed through 99% of earth’s history! No matter where you are at the book, it’s only 1% of the whole earth’s history! We can all be proud what we have achieved!

I set my own schedule to finish the reading at the end of March because it’s very eventful in April and I am leaving for a 6-week trip at the end of April. Besides, it has been almost seven weeks since we started the book, I think it’s about time to think a “soft landing” and the group can plan next take-off (book selection, a new BR flight leader, etc.)

I’d like to schedule a closing session for book Sapiens:
• Time: 6pm, Tuesday, 4/24
• Venue: TBD, should be somewhere close to our meeting venue.
• Drinks/dissert will be provided.
• Anyone who has followed our discussion and want to share any thoughts are welcome.

I hope you are not feeling rushed on the reading schedule. As stated, the BR voyage is a virtual flight. You are your own pilot (for the most part). The landing can be seen as your Midway Atoll (islands) stop.
The closing session is just a milestone for our yearly reading plan. Hope it helps the group to move forward and to accommodate other interests in the book selection. Thanks!

Kat:
On the part addressing the treatment of animals, it’s one of the most impressive messages from the book for me. Most history books that cover the entire human history focus on wars and empires; some pay attention to the common people (in the majority groups); very few manage to get to the minority groups. Sapiens is the only one I’ve come across that really goes into the human impact on our fellow living things on earth. A message of true humanitarianism that goes beyond just promoting human welfare, but also expresses our humanity.

Iris:
Great! Welcome! Hope we can all finally meet and fight! :)
We, Homo Sapiens, are now physically incapable of fighting with lion, tiger and many other species, but we can definitely win the battle of talking!
Let’s be ready for our “war of words”!

Seriously, Kat really pointed out the very unique point of view that the book Sapiens presented to its readers. Thanks for the comments!
Iris Wu
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Re: BR2018-1: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

文章Iris Wu » 週日 4月 08, 2018 2:11 pm

(03/31/18)
Iris:
Part Four, the Scientific Revolution, looks like the heaviest part in terms of pages, but for me, it is the easiest part to read. So, don’t be discouraged by the volume of these chapters (14-20), you can sail through them much faster than reading previous chapters.

I have some questions about the Scientific Revolution part:
1) One of my college courses, “The History of Ming Dynasty” (明史), illustrated how advanced technology and business trading China held in 14th to 16th Centuries. Dr. Harari echoes the facts about China’s leading position in chapter 15. But why scientific revolution did not take place in China? Why it was not nurtured in China? Any our own (Chinese version of) explanation for this?
2) It seems Dr. Harari sees globalization is inevitable trend (capitalist globalization is effectively building a global empire). What do you think the nationalism in the current world politics? Will it alter the path? Will a global empire still be our ultimate destination?
Iris Wu
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