Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 265
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind focuses not on historical individuals, but on four categories of human which, Harari argues, emerged in human history. Harari conceives of each human category as corresponding to one of four evolutionary stages in thought.
The first stage, which he terms the Cognitive Revolution, occurred at about 70,000 B.C. and involved humankind's first creation of images and categories, the basic building blocks of complex thought. With the aid of images and tools, humans were able to birth new intellectual concepts.
The second stage, the Agricultural Revolution, occurred around 10,000 B.C. when humans invented agricultural production. The advent of farming allowed human communities to form stationary rather than nomadic cultures, and also freed up time for humans to accelerate the invention of new concepts that weren't critical to immediate survival.
The third stage, which Harari calls the "unification of mankind," took place in the millennia after the Agricultural Revolution and before the beginning of modernity around 1500 A.D. This stage concerns the consolidation of insular human societies into larger entities and nation-states that were conscious of each other and participated in the exchange of goods and ideas. This trans-cultural idea exchange further amplified humanity's scientific progress.
The final stage, the Scientific Revolution, emerged from modern philosophy beginning with thinkers like Descartes and was driven by the value of empirical science and the application of experiments to test the inner workings of the world. In the present day, the advent of the scientific method backgrounds all legitimate science and provides a simple methodology for improving how new concepts and knowledge are created.
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