Homo Deus
Yuval Noah Harari

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Jack Shields

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Overview
Author
Yuval Noah Harari
Year Published
2016
Type
Non-Fiction
Genre
Non-Fiction
About the Title

“Homo Deus” an ambitious title for Yuval Noah Harari’s set of reflections on the human condition, its direction, and how that direction and the existence of humans change have an important existential meaning for the world. The title “Homo Deus” draws inspiration from the classification of humans currently as Homo sapiens, with the idea that our sapience - or knowledge - allows us to achieve advancements in our own development leading to our obtaining of god-like powers. Of course, such a futuristic idea is interesting in itself as a result of its ambitiousness: to advance a plausible argument that humans have the potential for incredible abilities that will allow them to fulfill themselves (achieve happiness), access immortality, and eventually grasp divinity, justifying the title “Homo Deus” (deus being Latin for “god” or “deity).

In the book, Harari’s arguments provide readers with interesting food for thought, like the idea that the dominance of the human race impacts the evolutionary success of species germane to a human’s daily life - using the statistic that house cats outnumber lions by a few orders of magnitude as a starting point for that. Thematically, the book describes three types of humanism: socialist, liberal, and evolutionary, which each are paths that lead to some definition of success for humans as a whole. However, the serious reader should take Harari’s ideas with a grain of salt due to how easily counterarguments and holes appear in various parts of the theory. For instance, while Harari might argue that humans have engineered the rise of certain species by protecting them, the same phenomena appears in nature as mutualism between ants protecting aphids from other predatory insects. The argument then becomes one of extent. But even if Harari could suitably justify the importance of Homo sapiens, he cannot provide an airtight explanation for our transition to “Homo Deus,” even if we limit some of what “deus” might imply. Reading the book as an interesting thought experiment or philosophical exercise, rather than take it as a literal, plausible sketch for a path of how humans ascend will serve the reader better.

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