Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
Part 1: Homo sapiens Conquers the World, Chapter 2: The Anthropocene
The current epoch of history is commonly referred to as the Holocene period, yet the more appropriate term for the period is perhaps Antrhopocene. It is the first time that the earth could be thought of as a single ecological unit, as the globalism of modern society has united previously disparate groups. This mindset is quite different from that of our hunter-gather ancestors, who likely did not think of people outside of their band regularly, and if they did, it was in the context of them being as outsiders. The current mindset, that bands and individuals of widely ranging localities and backgrounds can find common-ground, is a new outlook that we are just beginning to delve into. The main takeaway from such ideas is that humans are flexible, and evolution has equipped them to rally around collective imagined ideas, or intersubjective ideas, that ultimately allow Homo sapiens to be the ruling animal of modern Earth.
A notable aspect of the mammalian, and thus Homo sapiens makeup is its its emotional ability and need. These emotions can be thought of as algorithms that allow a creature to respond effectively instinctually to stimuli, originating from millions of years of trial and error, and ultimately allowing for the propagation of its genes.
99 per cent of our decisions - including the most important life choices concerning spouses, careers and habitats - are made by highly refined algorithms we call sensations, emotions and desires.
It may be simple enough to observe that humans are the alpha-predator on this planet, but what is it that how can we deny that other animals are wholly lesser than Homo sapiens?
The expulsion from Eden bears a striking resemblance to the Agricultural Revolution. Instead of allowing Adam to keep gathering wild fruits, an angry god condemns him to ‘eat only by the bread by the sweat of your brow’. It might be no coincidence, then, that biblical animals spoke with humans only in the pre-agricultural era of Eden.
Well, the answer is not so clear. In times past, humans justified their actions with the idea that a god had given humans reign over animals; however, modern atheist thinkers find this mindset to be lacking. Modern thinkers may still indeed subscribe to human exceptionalism over other animals, but likely have a hard time fully justifying why. The current common dogma around human exceptionalism is based on liberal principles, which gives individual humans the utmost importance despite their actual value.
… one core emotion is apparently shared by all mammals: the mother-infant bond.
Theist religions rewrote the script, turning the universe into a bleak Ibsen drama with just two characters: man and god.