Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Mascot of the Month - For a Better 2019 - Yuval Noah Harari

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to change my attitude towards the shit-show that has become the US Government. And I have leaned, and plan to lean more, on the writings of Yuval Noah Harari in order to do this. He is a fantastic writer and thinker.  I point out his input to my sanity at the bottom of this post.

 But first, onto Yuval.

He can international fame only in the last decade, although he was active in Israel long before that. He is Israeli and was born Jewish. His current political / religious alignment is more humanist than Jewish. But his honest observations of mankind in history and what that projects going forward has made him famous.

I fell in love with his writings with Homo Deus. While I don't keep a great many hardcopy books, this stands on my shelf as an anchor of stability. When I am convinced Donald Trump will be the end of my world, it reminds me that he is a reflexive response to a world and nation that is undergoing change too fast to understand.

A good entry point, if  you've never read him, is the current bestseller, 21 Lessons For The 21st Century.

He seems a bit pessimistic when you first read him - and in the first part of his books. But he is just honest. And when that honesty breeds optimism and a possible way forward, then it is even sweeter.

So, he has put the current situation in context where it helps me. The Donald Trump, Brexit, Orbán nexus of hate, intolerance and fear is a result not of human evil; but a knee jerk reaction to a world that is spinning and growing so fast, mankind doesn't know what to make of it. This shit-show is something to overcome or endure, not something to sap your energy. One may have to get the fuck out of Dodge, but one does not have to buy into it.

And, pulled from Wikipedia's entry on him....

Views and opinions

Harari is interested in how Homo sapiens reached their current condition, and in their future. His research focuses on macro-historical questions such as: What is the relation between history and biology? What is the essential difference between Homo sapiens and other animals? Is there justice in history? Does history have a direction? Did people become happier as history unfolded?

Harari regards dissatisfaction as the "deep root" of human reality, and as related to evolution.[17]
In a 2017 article Harari has argued that through continuing technological progress and advances in the field of artificial intelligence, "by 2050 a new class of people might emerge – the useless class. People who are not just unemployed, but unemployable."[39] He put forward the case that dealing with this new social class economically, socially and politically will be a central challenge for humanity in the coming decades.[40]

Harari summed up his views on the world in a 2018 interview[42] with Steve Paulson of Nautilus thus, "Things are better than ever before. Things are still quite bad. Things can get much worse. This adds up to a somewhat optimistic view because if you realize things are better than before, this means we can make them even better. "