Click here if you want to “widen your horizons”

In “Sapiens” the advent of money, empires, and religion in human history has created unity and cooperation for mankind through transaction, conquest, and legitimacy. More than 90 percent of all money is electronic data which highlights exactly how money has created unity and cooperation even among strangers. Money serves as a unit for exchanging goods which creates a medium between two parties. Money has the power to connect those with completely different backgrounds and goals into cooperating creating the potential for strangers, enemies, and anyone to cooperate with each other. Empires, or more appropriately, imperialism has, through conquest, created forced assimilation of cultures which have lead to the modern image of “authentic” cultures. In reality, these cultures are just skewed ideals of traditions that have been corrupted by imperialist legacies. Empires have shaped our modern capacity of cooperation through cultural assimilation by means of force and influence. Without empires, many parts of the globe would still have relatively intact indigenous cultures, ergo, there would be a far greater cultural divide as traditions and values would vary greatly. Finally, religion has helped unify mankind through the legitimization it creates with the superhuman realities they build. By suggesting the existence of a divine presence religions justify and legitimize their values through fear and devotion. These values have shifted and morphed throughout time to the point where most of us share similar ideals. Without religion, the diffusion of ideologies and values would spread less rapidly and contagiously leading to a similar situation like the one where there are no empires. Studying history is crucial not only for understanding the past’s effect on the future but to be able to fully grasp how the decisions we’ve made have shaped the possibilities of the future. It is easy to get stuck viewing history as a rigid timeline that is always moving forward but to disregard the present is ignorant. When Harari says that “our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable (p. 241),” he is describing the common desire to make rigid predictions of the future based on the past instead of creating the future with regard to the past. This notion is crucial when studying the history of technology due to the importance of technology in the present and future. Studying the history of science, like, studying history in general, allows us to “widen our horizons” by grasping what impact we can make on the present and the future based on our understanding of the past.

One thought on “Click here if you want to “widen your horizons”

  1. I think you’re right about Harari’s meaning on page 241. Excuse my film analogy, but… Harari’s quote reminds me of what “Avengers Endgame” demonstrated to us: that the past, present, and future are connected, and what strings them together are the choices made in the past. In other words, each choice a person makes creates a new present for that timeline. We are experiencing a present that was forged by people’s past decisions. Now, we obviously cannot travel through time, but we can take our knowledge of the past to forge our future. That knowledge is crucial to studying any field of history, and, as you so eloquently put it, that understanding “allows us to ‘widen our horizons.’”

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