A Critique of Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Philosophy Now 154:48-50 (2023)
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Abstract

The foundational principles of representative democracy are under attack globally. What we desperately need are enlightened and persuasive public intellectuals who can help us see through the fog of our fear, anger, and disillusionment, to find our rational political commitments again. One of these public intellectuals is undoubtedly Yuval Noah Harari, the bestselling author of three recent books – Sapiens, Homo Deus, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Harari is also a frequent contributor in the popular press, and a guest on shows, podcasts, panels, and as a keynote speaker. Add to all this that Harari is acting on his lofty academic ideals through ‘Sapienship’, a multidisciplinary organization he cofounded that advocates for global responsibility, clarifies the global conversation, and focuses attention on the most important global challenges. I single out Harari because I presume many readers will be familiar with his work. He is certainly one of the fastest rising stars of public intellectualism. Unfortunately, his work is undercut by the philosophical positions he put forth in his first bestselling book, Sapiens. In this review/critique I wish to show that in order for Harari advance a coherent political or ideological argument, he must first shore up his philosophical commitments.

Author's Profile

Brian J. Collins
California Lutheran University

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