Week 4

Harari makes the claim that the Cognitive Revolution allowed for larger-scale cooperation between humans because of the new ability to gossip.  Further he claims that this ability to gossip displays what was likely an evolutionary change to the wiring of the brain allowing Homo Sapiens to use language in a more social way.  Essentially, Homo Sapiens gained the ability to communicate about each other’s social standing, traits, and behaviors.  This led to larger bands of people being able to live and cooperate with one another.

Harari gives the example of Peugeot as an imagined order saying, “Peugeot belongs to a particular genre of legal fictions called ‘limited liability companies’.” (Harari, 29) He points out that the company is separate from the people who own it or work for it.  Lawsuits, prosecutions and contracts involving the company all exist separately from the people involved.  The original owner died early in the 20th century but the company lives on.

Imagined orders are probably necessary for science although science may or may not function as one.  It really depends on how ‘science’ is defined.  Imagination is necessary for sciences like mathematics.  Mathematics as we understand it is an entirely cognitive affair.  However, if ‘science’ is defined as the careful testing of real results to gain understanding, then it needn’t be an imagined order.  For example, a hunter/gatherer would do science by tracking when prey animals go to a watering hole to drink over the course of several days.  In either case, it is unlikely that we would possess our current scientific understanding without imagined orders. 

One thought on “Week 4

  1. I really loved reading your perspective on this week’s reading Ryan! I like how you pointed out that language and communication was the main cause for the cognitive revolution. Do you think the revolution led to imagined orders or vice versa? I think they are kind of dependent on each other. I agree with you that science itself is not an imagined order, but needs one to exist. I had not thought about how the definition of science is dependent on answering the prompt. It is important to understand the difference of science itself and the understanding of science when comprehending imagined orders.


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