Quotes

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 715

This compelling novel is filled with personal and historical perspective, as well as insights into the complexities of humanity. Harari's book addresses the actions and ideologies of both individuals and groups around the world which will continue to impact the twenty-first century.

A global world puts unprecedented pressure on our...

(The entire section contains 715 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your subscription to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Start your Subscription

This compelling novel is filled with personal and historical perspective, as well as insights into the complexities of humanity. Harari's book addresses the actions and ideologies of both individuals and groups around the world which will continue to impact the twenty-first century.

A global world puts unprecedented pressure on our personal conduct and morality. Each of us is ensnared within numerous all-encompassing spider webs, which on the one hand restrict our movements, but at the same time transmit our tiniest jiggle to faraway destinations.

In Harari's introduction, he provides insight into why he wrote this book:

In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.

As a historian, I cannot give people food or clothes—but I can try and offer some clarity, thereby helping to level the global playing field. If this empowers even a handful of additional people to join the debate about the future of our species, I have done my job. . . .

My focus is on current affairs and on the immediate future of human societies. What is happening right now? What are today’s greatest challenges and choices? What should we pay attention to? What should we teach our kids?

Harari seeks to impact a worldwide audience with his pedagogy and his responses to many people he has engaged in dialogue with, including journalists and readers.

My agenda here is global. I look at the major forces that shape societies all over the world, and that are likely to influence the future of our planet as a whole.

Throughout his book, Harari references key historical movements, events, and leaders. He analyzes the twentieth century in depth so that he can apply lessons learned to the next century.

People may completely give up on having a global story of any kind, and instead seek shelter with local nationalist and religious tales. In the twentieth century, nationalist movements were an extremely important political player, but they lacked a coherent vision for the future of the world other than supporting the division of the globe into independent nation states.

In his writing, Harari addresses a wide range of subjects which are relevant to humanity around the globe, including art, politics, human reasoning, and religion.

For example, terrorism is both a global political problem and an internal psychological mechanism. Terrorism works by pressing the fear button deep in our minds and hijacking the private imagination of millions of individuals.

In posing questions to his readers, Harari challenges the acceptance of norms and fate.

This global dimension of our personal lives means that it is more important than ever to uncover our religious and political biases, our racial and gender privileges, and our unwitting complicity in institutional oppression. But is that a realistic enterprise?

Harari also cautions the embracing of the wonders of technology without challenging its potential dangers.

Since the corporations and entrepreneurs who lead the technological revolution naturally tend to sing the praises of their creations, it falls to sociologists, philosophers and historians like myself to sound the alarm and explain all the ways things can go terribly wrong. . . .

Already today, computers have made the financial system so complicated that few humans can understand it. As AI improves, we might soon reach a point when no human can make sense of finance any more. What will that do to the political process?

Not sparing any social group of people, Harari poses provoking thoughts and questions on human progress:

The revolutions in biotech and infotech are made by engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists who are hardly aware of the political implications of their decisions, and who certainly don’t represent anyone.

He also provides a strong critique of both liberalism and democracy.

But during the twentieth century the global elites in New York, London, Berlin and Moscow formulated three grand stories that claimed to explain the whole past and to predict the future of the entire world: the fascist story, the communist story, and the liberal story.

Readers can certainly ponder many striking words by Harari, such as this:

In 2018 the common person feels increasingly irrelevant. Lots of mysterious words are bandied around excitedly in TED talks, government think tanks and hi-tech conferences—globalization, blockchain, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, machine learning—and common people may well suspect that none of these words are about them.

Illustration of PDF document

Download 21 Lessons for the 21st Century Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Previous

Analysis