Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 284
Yuval Noah Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018) represents another in a series of successful books by Harari, including Sapiens (2011) and Homo Deus (2015). Harari is a writer expressly concerned with humanity's place in history. The book is divided into 21 chapters among 5 parts. Harai's pretext for the book is that the ordinary person doesn't pay attention to (and perhaps doesn't have time to pay attention to) major historical developments in the modern age. The five parts are I.) Technological Challenges, II.) The Political Challenge, III.) Despair and Hope, and IV.) Truth, and V.) Resilience. Topics discussed therein include Big Data, lack of clarity in the information age, terrorism and war, God, education, and meditation.
Harari makes several consequential claims, including that people must constantly adapt to change at a rate unprecedented in human history. For example, the educations that people earn are unlikely to secure them a stable job for their entire lives. Additionally, Harari claims that if data is concentrated into too few hands, human beings will split into different types of species, as, according to Harari, those who own data are more powerful.
Ultimately, Harari preaches that humans should confront their fears of conflict, as terrorists, for example, are only powerful due to the fear they inspire. Global conflict, too (according to Harari) represents a sort of achievement, as it would have been difficult to pre-modern cultures to be aware of one another's existence, much less to engage in conflict. Religion, too, is a destructive force in Harari's view (and so not much different than fake news). Still, the book emerges as somewhat optimistic, to the extent that it preaches that we humans can adapt to the rapidly changing world by practicing mindfulness.
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