Sapiens - Chapter 9 - 11 Summary & Analysis

Yuval Noah Harari
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Summary

Chapter 9, the beginning of Part Three, discusses how cultures evolve over time. Harari defines culture as a network of artificial instincts, suggesting that it augments and replaces biological instincts. For decades, scholars taught that culture was static, referring to concepts like the “Samoan Culture,” as if it maintained a constant set of characteristics (163). In contrast, more recent scholars, including the author, argue that culture is constantly changing, even within isolated groups of people. Additionally, all cultures embrace internal contradictions, such as the clash between equality and personal liberty in Western culture. It is by studying these contradictions and how individuals live with them, Harari argues, that we gain the best understanding of a culture. Broadly, he claims that history is moving toward more unified and complex cultures. While he admits that events like the break up of the Mongol Empire or the emergence...

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