On the nature of human being
Followed by the masterpiece 'Sapiens: A brief history of Humankind', Yuval Noah Harari has produced another thought-provoking magnificent piece of work in 'Homo Deus'. The central idea of this book is to demonstrate the nature of human being of the present world and illustrate the tendency of a man trying to become gods. The book started with the discussion of the same 3 problems preoccupied the people of 20th century China, of medieval India and of ancient Egypt. Those are Famine, Plague, and War. People of that ancient period used to believe that these were the cosmic plan of God. However, think of the world we live in today, it has changed dramatically. More people die today from eating more than eating too little.
In April 1664 in France in the town of Beauvais about 2.8 million French, 15 per cent of the total population starved to death. In between1692-1694, while the Sun King; Louis XIV was dallying with his mistress in Versailles. The following year, 95 famine struck Estonia, killing a fifth of the population. In 96 it was Finland's turn where a quarter of a third people died. Scotland suffered in 1695-98 about 20 per cent of many districts' population died.
In contrast, the modern world cannot think of starving for food and dying. In 2014 more than 2.1 Billion people were overweight compared to 850 million who are suffering from malnutrition. Half of the humankind is expected to be overweight by 2030.
In 2010 malnutrition and famine killed 1 million in the word combined whereas obesity killed 3 million. What do we learn from eating? Homo sapiens have overcome the previously faced world food crisis and created new problems by eating more food. Similarly in 1330s Plague created the so-called black death in the east or central Asia quickly spread all over the world and between 75 million and 200 million people died more than a quarter of a population of Eurasia. As per WHO report 1967, smallpox infected 15 million people and killed 2 million of them. But in 2014 not a single person was killed or neither infected by smallpox. SARS came up with a new Black Death but eventually killed 1000 people. Ebola was massive in 2014 and 2015 but infected 30,000 and killed 11,000 of them. That is how dominantly humans have been successful in dealing with this mega diseases.
The author also exhibits that terrorism and violence is the strategy of the weaker people. They only help the weaker and small number of people to spread fear in climbing up to the apex of power. Whereas in ancient ago society's human violence caused about 15 per cent of all deaths, during 20th century violence caused only 5 per cent of deaths.
And in the early 21st century it is responsible for 1 per cent deaths only. In 2012 about 56 million died throughout the world, 620,000 died due human violence. (120,000 killed by war and 500,000 crime killed). On the contrary 800,000 committed suicide, and 1.5 million died of diabetes. So, what is more, alarming: violence and terrorism or diabetes?
Terrorism is the strategy of weakness adopted by those who lack access to real power. It works as a tool for spreading fear rather than doing real damages. Whereas, in 2010 obesity and related illness killed about 3 million people, terrorists killed 7,697 people across the globe. American or European Coca-Cola possesses a far deadlier threat than al-Qaeda.
Further, the Harari explained the nature of modern human beings who are fighting death out of context as the next challenge and trying to become God. Google established sub-company that is trying to solve death "Calico" Bill Mars to take care after Google ventures, he said it's possible to live for 500 years. Google is investing it's 36 per cent of its 2 billion venture portfolio in life sciences startups. We are not trying to go ahead few yards, rather -- in the game against death.
Harari, confidently and logically claimed that Soul, Mind, and God are similar in nature. They all exist in a person's subconscious feeling and essence, however, neither exists in real time. Human behaved in line with the Gods historically as they tried to gain power by domesticating animals and reproduction while improving their subjective need and neglecting the animals' subjective and emotional demands.
Moreover, the books repeatedly mentioned about Darwin's theory of evolution and its implications. In the practical sense, Darwin's evolution theory is less threatening than the monstrosities of the Einstein and Heisenberg's theory of relativity. Darwin's idea is the survival of the fittest whereas the theory of relativity says one person can be either alive or dead at the same time, and also says that something appears out of nothing.
These were the major areas depicted strongly, logically and strong historical evidence from millions of years' history of human being. The book also shed light on radical religious contexts and liberal philosophy of the modern world. The conflicts between science, religion, human nature and ethics are strongly demonstrated all through this book.
The reviewer is Senior Research Associate, South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM)