Thread: Homo Deus Board: Purgatory / Ship of Fools.

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Posted by Schroedinger's cat (# 64) on :
This is a book written by Yuval Noah Harari, and was one of the top books of last year.

The book is an exposition of humanism, but better than Dawkins. And in a lot more depth.

But he makes some interesting arguments. He does the same as Dawkins, in that the "religion" he rejects is the same religion I reject. But he does talk positively about "spirituality" - a journey of faith. Which it what I would call faith.

But he struggles, IMO, with the events of the last 2 years. He seems to believe in a positive humanism - that people can make a better world, that we can achieve good things. But, in truth, people suck.

Has anyone else read this? I think it is important, because it is an influential book, and it is the sort of book that will influence ideas and thoughts.
Posted by SusanDoris (# 12618) on :
I have the book on my shelf waiting for my reader to read it to me. I read (talking book) his Sapiens sapiens and thought it was very good. There were parts I should have listened to again because they rather went over my head, but I liked the way he did not avoid difficult questions.

Edited to delete quote because I meant to quote the OP.

[ 20. February 2018, 14:00: Message edited by: SusanDoris ]
Posted by SusanDoris (# 12618) on :
Oh dear, I edited to deletend found I had in fact quoted the OP. Sorry about that.
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:

But he struggles, IMO, with the events of the last 2 years. He seems to believe in a positive humanism - that people can make a better world, that we can achieve good things. But, in truth, people suck.

I don't think the last 2 years is an anomaly. When people perceive problems, they are less charitable to other people. We do suck, but we also do not. We have the potential for both and it is selfishness and fear that draw the worst of us.
The good that faith and humanism draw from is the same. As are their failures.
Posted by Schroedinger's cat (# 64) on :
The problem as I see it with the last 2 years is that Harari talks of the important power of voters, and discusses "dataism" - the rise of data as the driver of power.

And the last 2 years have severely dented any trust in elections and voting when they can be manipulated (as they have been); as well as trust in data, because of the abuse of facebook and dataism.

So it is not the actual results of the event's more the increasing revelations of the real dangers of our systems. I don't think we any longer believe that people act decently or for the best, when there is a possibility of doing something else - like corrupting everything to get into power.
Posted by Galilit (# 16470) on :
I have read both Sapiens and Homo Deus

"Yuval" (as we call him) and "Jared" (Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel and The World Until Yesterday) are part of our Family Canon (along with Dire Straits' music!)

I do think he was bang-on about the spirituality as a personal (or group) journey rather than a collection of ortho-practic behaviours and specific readings and writings. But I think that he ignored or is unaware of religious Jews and Christians who also think this way about faith without dropping their overt religious affiliation, observance and attendance.

My main complaint with Homo Deus is the translation. In his hubris and whatever else went to his head "Yuval" translated it all by himself and so it has some really clunky idiomatic translations from the Hebrew

His own spiritual "thing" is "vipassana" which he has been doing religiously for nigh on 20 years and even mentioned it in his Afterword as the key to his ...well ...everything really .I got the feeling by the end of H.D. that he is convinced he is so far above The Rest of Us ...
Posted by no prophet's flag is set so... (# 15560) on :
Bit of a guru is he? or wants to be?

Re family canon, does this mean your family all like/refer to/think seminal or inspirational? FWIW, Diamond likes geography too much, history too little. I'm not sure Harari understands what he critiques. In fairness, these are popular books.

In a previous decade, I thought Stephen Jay Gould's "Wonderful Life" had a lot to say about philosophy of religion and the separation of science and religion so that each could be happy. There is, isn't there, always a risk of people who are expert in one area of inquiry and knowledge trying to extend themselves into areas about which they know little. This is the Dawkins error, where someone writes themselves into areas beyond their ken.
Posted by Schroedinger's cat (# 64) on :
Originally posted by Galilit:
I got the feeling by the end of H.D. that he is convinced he is so far above The Rest of Us ...

I get that feeling when I read humanists of his ilk - they are positive about life, and anyone who dismisses them are just disregarding how amazing humans can be. They are a little like Brexiteers, TBF.

And I do think that people are amazing. But I also think that people suck. Ignoring either side of this is a false picture. Strangely, I find Richard Bach more acceptble, because he works in a fictional realm (the more famous stuff). But when you try to express it as a philosophical teatise - as this does - it fails to be all encompassing. It works in fiction, as an idea, but not as a fully realised philosophy.

For me, I don't feel I have to dismiss my faith, reject the spiritual or the supernatural to also acknowledge that people are more amazing than we often give them credit for. But that comes from my faith, not despite it.
Posted by Galilit (# 16470) on :
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:

Re family canon, does this mean your family all like/refer to/think seminal or inspirational?

One of the things we did as parents once the children got older was to read some of the same books as them.

It started 15 years ago with Precocious Teenage Daughter giving me a slip of paper on which was scribbled and I thought "Wahhhhhaaaat?". Turned out to be Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code which was then rage (in its spanking new Hebrew translation). So when Genius Boy read "Jared's" first and then "Yuval's" Sapiens passing them to his Too Clever By Half Brother we began to read them too

All this has led to some wonderful conversations over the years and various books began to be referred to as "Family Canon" because we had ALL read them; although obviously their impact on each of us was different.

I'd never have read any of those authors had our children not brought them to my attention.

Bit of a tangent ...
Posted by Uriel (# 2248) on :
I read Sapiens recently, and after a promising start the book nosedived in my opinion when he started talking about areas I knew something about. The author seemed too interested in setting up a grand theoretical framework which sounded plausible, and was not attentive enough to (1) researchers with more knowledge in the area he was discussing and (2) the credibility and accuracy of his supporting statements. Having been intrigued by his account of very early man (something I don't know too much about), his sweeping statements on military history and comparative religion left an awful lot to be desired. For example, when looking at the nature of religion he completely ignored any academic research into what religion is and just inserted his own amateur two point statement. An hour or two reading Ninian Smart would have really helped him, but he seemed too caught up on his own ability to summarise a large and complex field in which he has little experience rather than engaging with academics who have spent a lifetime doing it. Factually inaccurate statements (e.g. "there is no belief in the afterlife in the Old Testament") didn't help.

When he got onto the "scientific revolution" and kept repeating that until about 500 years ago humanity did not accept its own ignorance, but then they did and got scientific, I just kept rolling my eyes at the naivety of his analysis. As if Aristotle or Avicenna never existed.

I concluded that "Sapiens" took on too much, and the author too easily over-simplified the reality of human experience in order to fit it into his own narrative. He spins a good yarn, if you don't know much about the periods or subjects he is dredging to support his hypothesis then it could be easy to be taken in. But overall, it was a disappointment and it hasn't persuaded me that Homo Deus will be more thoroughly researched, cited and self-critically argued.
Posted by Russ (# 120) on :
I thought it was fascinating. But a second book, perhaps written and released in a bit of a hurry to cash in on the positive response to the first. Just not quite as integrated, as fully-thought-through, as if it had been a first book.

I want to read it again.

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