This was a great book and provided a fantastic perspective on the whole history of the human race.
My only qualms with the book was the author’s luddite belief that somehow life was better before we invented agriculture, and that happiness was the only measurement worth making on the quality of life. It seems obvious to me that there are clearly evolutionary and contentment benefits that come with the technology we have developed over the last 70,000 years.
Perhaps one of the most interesting concepts I picked up from the book was that of an imagined reality which is anything that we as a culture have made real by a shared belief in it. A corporation is an example, a corporation is born by filling out some papers and filing them with a government body, the government in turn is given power and made real only by the shared belief in it. Likewise religion, capitalism, and soccer are all imagined realities. These imagined realties play a major role in allowing the world to function beyond the family unit. When people share the same imagined reality it becomes possible for widely dispersed people to work together cooperatively. The global economy today is perhaps the largest imagined reality, that businesses exist and money has value is a world-wide belief which enables us all to trust that no matter which corner of the planet I visit it’s possible to buy food from someone with paper.
An interesting note is also that legal laws exist only to managed these imagined realities. Physical realities don’t require laws. There is no legal requirement that apple’s fall down toward the earth.
I think the most interesting thing about the concept of imagined reality is that since it is all kind of made up, it’s also dynamic and can be changed over time by those of us with influence.
The books story of the history of humans, delved deeply into what makes us unique as a species. Why are we now at the top of the food chain rather than neanderthals? Where has the slowness of evolution not caught up with the relative swiftness of humans race to the top?
It’s a book that will leave you thinking and drive interesting discussion. Highly recommended read.