A Short Review of Harari's Homo Deus

tags: reviews

The most thought-provoking and scary book I’ve read in a long while.

See the review on goodreads.

The book is clearly framed as a means of starting a conversation about the human agenda and the sources of meaning for humanity. According to Harari, modernity is a simple deal - one in which humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power. We escaped this deal through humanism, which gave us meaning independent of a great cosmic plan. Yet, if humanism disintegrates —and Harari says this is highly possible — then along with it goes the font of meaning for modern humans.

Harari uses a similar macro-interpretation of history as he did in Sapiens but presents it brevity and with a focus on the rise of humanism. The historical aspect of this book is important - by allowing us to trace the origins of our humanist present, it enables us to think more imaginatively about our post-humanist future.

I read this after Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now” and find them to be quite complementary. Pinker defends humanism (and other enlightenment ideals) with respect to present-day trends (e.g. populism, declinism). Harari doesn’t defend Humanism, but points out that it is soon to become obsolete, mostly due to its own success.