How humans created their own collective version of reality

The Cognitive Revolution is associated with a change in human cognition that was caused by a change in their system of communication . This change is what would ultimately make the human language different from any other type of language that previously existed. Human started being able to create endless meanings out of a few sounds by combining them together in complicated ways. They were then able to communicate a lot of detailed information about the world, which allowed them to discuss and debate with others. The human language evolved in such a way that not only allowed humans to share information about the world, but also about other humans. Being social animals, humans needed to be able to talk about others in order to function in large groups. By gossiping with each other and communicating about abstract ideas, they were able to cooperate with large groups of people in a flexible way. They also started being able to think about things in a more abstract way and to communicate about things like myths and entities. Being able to develop their social interactions and to communicate in abstract ways allowed humans to be conscious of their own actions as well as others’ actions, and to understand the effects of one’s actions on a community. In order to function in a community and to cooperate, humans had to create a sense of structure for themselves. They started organizing societies in different groups, creating entities, laws, and morals that would dictate what is acceptable and what is not. These abstract ideas of organization of a society is called the “imagined order”. It is not essential to human’s survival nor is it embedded in humans’ DNA. Humans slowly created a set of imagined laws and systems of hierarchy that would allow their communities to function and humans to cooperate efficiently. If everyone within a large group adheres to a certain order, cooperation will be possible, and the community will thrive. Harari uses multiple examples to illustrate the idea of “imagined order”. One of these examples was the Code of Hammurabi, which establishes that not all humans had the same value. A certain social order had to be respected, which was said to be created by the gods.

Imagined orders would not exist if not for humans. They are abstract ideas that only exist in the human mind. Even though science was a concept created by the human mind, it is not, in itself, an imagined order. We have put words on concepts and studied them in organized ways, but these concepts would still exist if not discovered by humans. Gravity would still exist, and radioactivity would still be dangerous.

3 thoughts on “How humans created their own collective version of reality

  1. I find your mention of the Code of Hammurabi to be very important in context of your post and the chapter. He is able to hit all aspects of an imagined order including the set of some sort of belief or mythical foundation that not only gathers the population’s attention, but is enough for them to dedicate themselves to it. He then creates his own sets of rules resulting in a society under his control that will suffer his consequences when resisting them. This chapter poses some challenging questions relating to the development of society. Why and how must imagined orders result in such a division of populations? Why were certain biological groups so misfortuned while others spoiled immensely?


  2. I think that you did a wonderful job of tying all of the concepts together, as well as defending your interpretation of the text. Your references to the text were all helpful in understanding your view as well. The ideas that stood out the most to me were your emphasis on not only being able to understand ideas, but to understand other people. That if it weren’t for our ability to understand other humans on a fundamental level and find commonalities, there wouldn’t even be a foundation for imagined orders. I didn’t consider that prerequisite as strongly and that emphasis ties a lot of ideas together. You did an awesome job and made me think about the reading in a new way.


  3. This was an interesting and thoughtful explanation of why imagined orders are not necessarily a prerequisite to science. A question is whether the scientific method, is itself, an imagined order. I can see points on both sides. On one hand, testing the physical properties of something, say gravity’s effect on a baseball, doesn’t require an abstract understanding of the scientific method. On the other hand, without the abstract ideas of hypothesis testing, statistics, sophisticated communication etc, it is hard to imagine that science would be the global, collaborative, and well-understood process that it is today.


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