Yuval Noah Harari (Hebrew: יובל נח הררי [juˈval ˈnoaχ haˈʁaʁi]; born 1976)[1] is an Israeli author, public intellectual,[2][3][4] historian and professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[1] He is the author of the popular science bestsellers Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011), Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016), and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018). His writings examine free will, consciousness, intelligence, happiness, and suffering.

Yuval Noah Harari
Harari in 2017
Born (1976-02-24) 24 February 1976 (age 48)
Known forSapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011)
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2015)
21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018)
SpouseItzik Yahav
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisHistory and I: War and the Relations between History and Personal Identity in Renaissance Military Memoirs, c. 1450–1600 (2002)
Doctoral advisorSteven Gunn
Academic work
DisciplineBig History
Social philosophy
InstitutionsHebrew University of Jerusalem
WebsiteOfficial website

Harari writes about a "cognitive revolution" that supposedly occurred roughly 70,000 years ago when Homo sapiens supplanted the rival Neanderthals and other species of the genus Homo, developed language skills and structured societies, and ascended as apex predators, aided by the agricultural revolution and accelerated by the scientific revolution, which have allowed humans to approach near mastery over their environment. His books also examine the possible consequences of a futuristic biotechnological world in which intelligent biological organisms are surpassed by their own creations; he has said, "Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so".[5]

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harari surveys human history from the evolutionary emergence of Homo sapiens to 21st-century political and technological revolutions. The book is based on his lectures to an undergraduate world history class, although outside of popular discourse his work has been met with a generally negative or mixed scholarly reception.

Early life edit

Yuval Noah Harari was born and raised in the Kiryat Ata, Israel as one of three children born to Shlomo and Pnina Harari and raised in a secular Jewish family. His father was a state-employed armaments engineer and his mother was an office administrator.[2][6][7] Harari taught himself to read at age three.[2] He studied in a class for intellectually gifted children at the Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa from the age of eight. He deferred mandatory military service in the Israel Defense Forces to pursue university studies as part of the Atuda program but was later exempted from completing his military service following his studies due to health issues.[2] He began studying history and international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at age 17.[8]

Education and academic career edit

Harari studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from 1993 to 1998, where he received a B.A. degree and specialized in medieval history and military history. He completed his D.Phil. degree at Jesus College, Oxford, in 2002, under the supervision of Steven J. Gunn. From 2003 to 2005, he pursued postdoctoral studies in history as a Yad Hanadiv Fellow.[9] While at Oxford, Harari first encountered the writings of Jared Diamond, whom he has acknowledged as an influence on his own writing. At a Berggruen Institute salon, Harari said that Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel "was kind of an epiphany in my academic career. I realized that I could actually write such books."[2][10]

Literary career edit

Harari has published multiple books and articles, including Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry, 1100–1550;[11] The Ultimate Experience: Battlefield Revelations and the Making of Modern War Culture, 1450–2000;[12] The Concept of 'Decisive Battles' in World History;[13] and Armchairs, Coffee and Authority: Eye-witnesses and Flesh-witnesses Speak about War, 1100–2000.[14]

His book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind was originally published in Hebrew in 2011 based on the 20 lectures of an undergraduate world history class he was teaching. It was then released in English in 2014 and has since been translated into some 45 additional languages.[15] The book surveys the entire length of human history, starting from the evolution of Homo sapiens in the Stone Age. Harari compares indigenous peoples to apes[16] in his fall of man narrative,[17] leading up to the political and technological revolutions of the 21st century. The Hebrew edition became a bestseller in Israel, and generated much interest among the general public, turning Harari into a celebrity.[18][failed verification] Joseph Drew wrote that "Sapiens provides a wide-ranging and thought-provoking introduction for students of comparative civilization," considering it as a work that "highlights the importance and wide expanse of the social sciences."[19]

Harari's follow-up book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, was published in 2016 and examines the possibilities for the future of Homo sapiens.[20] The book's premise outlines that, in the future, humanity is likely to make a significant attempt to gain happiness, immortality and God-like powers.[21] The book goes on to openly speculate various ways this ambition might be realised for Homo sapiens in the future based on the past and present. Among several possibilities for the future, Harari develops the term dataism for a philosophy or mindset that worships big data.[22][23] Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Siddhartha Mukherjee stated that although the book "fails to convince me entirely," he considers it "essential reading for those who think about the future."[24]

Harari's book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, published on 30 August 2018, focused more on present-day concerns.[25][26][27][28] A review in the New Statesman commented on what it called "risible moral dictums littered throughout the text", criticised Harari's writing style and stated that he was "trafficking in pointless asides and excruciating banalities."[29] Kirkus Reviews praised the book as a "tour de force" and described it as a "highly instructive exploration of current affairs and the immediate future of human societies."[30]

In July 2019, Harari was criticised for allowing several omissions and amendments in the Russian edition of his third book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, using a softer tone when speaking about Russian authorities.[31][32] Leonid Bershidsky in The Moscow Times called it "caution—or, to call it by its proper name, cowardice",[33] and Nettanel Slyomovics in Haaretz claimed that "he is sacrificing those same liberal ideas that he presumes to represent".[34] In a response, Harari stated that he "was warned that due to these few examples Russian censorship will not allow distribution of a Russian translation of the book" and that he "therefore faced a dilemma," namely to "replace these few examples with other examples, and publish the book in Russia," or "change nothing, and publish nothing," and that he "preferred publishing, because Russia is a leading global power and it seemed important that the book's ideas should reach readers in Russia, especially as the book is still very critical of the Putin regime—just without naming names."[35]

In November 2020 the first volume of his graphic adaptation of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Sapiens: A Graphic History – The Birth of Humankind, co-authored with David Vandermeulen and Daniel Casanave, was published and launched at a livestream event organised by How to Academy and Penguin Books.[36]

In 2022, Harari's book, Unstoppable Us: How Humans Took Over the World, illustrated by Ricard Zaplana Ruiz, was published and is a "Story of Human History — for Kids."[37] In fewer than 200 pages of child-friendly language, Harari covers the same content as his best-selling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, but "he has simplified the presentation for this younger audience without dumbing it down."[37] This book is "the first of four planned volumes."[37]

Personal life edit

Harari is gay[38] and in 2002 met his husband Itzik Yahav, whom he has called "my internet of all things".[39][40] Yahav has also been Harari's personal manager.[41] They married in a civil ceremony in Toronto, Canada.[42] He lives in karmei Yosef, a moshav in central Israel.[43]

Though he is an atheist,[44] Harari has practiced Vipassana meditation since 2000[45] and said that it "transformed" his life.[46] As of 2017 he practiced for two hours every day (one hour each at the start and end of his work day[47]), every year undertook a meditation retreat of 30 days or longer, in silence and with no books or social media,[48][49][50] and is an assistant meditation teacher.[51] He dedicated Homo Deus to "my teacher, S. N. Goenka, who lovingly taught me important things", and said "I could not have written this book without the focus, peace and insight gained from practising Vipassana for fifteen years."[52] He also regards meditation as a way to research.[50]

Harari is a vegan and says this resulted from his research, including his view that the foundation of the dairy industry is breaking the bond between mother cow and calf.[7][53] As of May 2021, Harari did not have a smartphone,[54][55] but in an interview in October 2023, he explained that he owned a smartphone only for use in travel and emergencies.[56]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, following former United States President Donald Trump's cut to WHO funding, Harari announced that he and his husband would donate $1 million to the WHO through Sapienship, their social impact company.[57][58]

Harari is among the critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and is specifically opposed to the judicial reform plans of the thirty-seventh government of Israel. In a conversation with Lex Fridman in 2023 he said: "... And now the Netanyahu government is trying to neutralize, or take over, the supreme court, and they've already prepared a long list of laws – they already talk about it – that will be passed the moment that this last check on the power is gone, they are openly trying to gain unlimited power".[59]

Awards and recognition edit

Harari twice won the Polonsky Prize for "Creativity and Originality", in 2009 and 2012. In 2011, he won the Society for Military History's Moncado Award for outstanding articles in military history. In 2012, he was elected to the Young Israeli Academy of Sciences.[citation needed]

Sapiens was in the top 3 of The New York Times Best Seller list for 96 consecutive weeks. In 2018, Harari gave the first TED Talk as a digital avatar.[60]

In 2017, Homo Deus won Handelsblatt's German Economic Book Award for the most thoughtful and influential economic book of the year.[61]

In 2018 and 2020, Harari spoke at the World Economic Forum annual conference in Davos.[2]

Critical reception edit

Harari's popular writings are considered to belong to the Big History genre, with Ian Parker writing in 2020 in The New Yorker that "Harari did not invent Big History, but updated it with hints of self-help and futurology, as well as a high-altitude, almost nihilistic composure about human suffering."[2]

His work has been more negatively received in academic circles, with Christopher Robert Hallpike stating 2020 in a review of Sapiens that: "one has often had to point out how surprisingly little he seems to have read on quite a number of essential topics. It would be fair to say that whenever his facts are broadly correct they are not new, and whenever he tries to strike out on his own he often gets things wrong, sometimes seriously." Hallpike further states that: "we should not judge Sapiens as a serious contribution to knowledge but as 'infotainment', a publishing event to titillate its readers by a wild intellectual ride across the landscape of history, dotted with sensational displays of speculation, and ending with blood-curdling predictions about human destiny. By these criteria, it is a most successful book."[62]

In 2020, philosopher Mike W. Martin, criticized Harari's view in a journal article, stating that "[Harari] misunderstands human rights, inflates the role of science in moral matters, and fails to reconcile his moral passion with his moral skepticism."[63]

In July 2022, the American magazine Current Affairs published an article titled "The Dangerous Populist Science of Yuval Noah Harari" by Darshana Narayanan, pointing to the lack of scientific rigor in his books. "The best-selling author is a gifted storyteller and popular speaker," she wrote. "But he sacrifices science for sensationalism, and his work is riddled with errors."[64]

In November 2022, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called Harari a historian and a brand. They pointed out that the Yahav Harari Group, built by his partner Yahav, was a "booming product cosmos" selling comics and children's books, but soon films and documentaries. They observed an "icy deterministic touch" in his books which made them so popular in Silicon Valley. They stated that his listeners celebrated him like a pop star, although he only had the sad message that people are "bad algorithms", soon to be redundant, to be replaced because machines could do it better.[65]

Russian ideologue Aleksandr Dugin has singled out Harari's "inclination towards a post-human existence" as evidence that the modern Western world is "the civilisation of the Antichrist", which he argues that Russia and the Islamic world are justified in opposing.[66]

Published works edit

Books edit

  • Renaissance Military Memoirs: War, History and Identity, 1450–1600 (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2004), ISBN 978-184-383-064-1
  • Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry, 1100–1550 (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2007), ISBN 978-184-383-292-8
  • The Ultimate Experience: Battlefield Revelations and the Making of Modern War Culture, 1450–2000 (Houndmills: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008), ISBN 978-023-058-388-7
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (London: Harvill Secker, 2014) ISBN 978-006-231-609-7
  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016), ISBN 978-1-910701-88-1
  • Money: Vintage Minis (select excerpts from Sapiens and Homo Deus (London: Penguin Random House, 2018) ISBN 978-1-78487-402-5
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (London: Jonathan Cape, 2018), ISBN 1-78733-067-2
  • Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 1 – The Birth of Humankind (London: Jonathan Cape, 2020)
  • Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2 − The Pillars of Civilization (London: Jonathan Cape, 2021)
  • Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 3 − The Masters of History (London: Jonathan Cape, 2024)
  • Unstoppable Us, Volume 1 − How Humans Took Over the World (Bright Matter Books, 2022), ISBN 0-593-64346-1
  • Unstoppable Us, Volume 2 − Why the World Isn't Fair (Bright Matter Books, 2024), ISBN 9780593711521

Articles edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Yuval Harari official website
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Parker, Ian (10 February 2020). "Yuval Noah Harari's History of Everyone, Ever". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 11 February 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2023.
  3. ^ Anthony, Andrew (5 August 2018). "Yuval Noah Harari: 'The idea of free information is extremely dangerous'". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 16 February 2023.
  4. ^ Lawton, Graham (17 August 2018). "Yuval Noah Harari: Why the reluctant guru is upsetting scientists". New Scientist. Retrieved 11 May 2023.
  5. ^ "Yuval Noah Harari: Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so". The Observer. 19 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  6. ^ Par Salomon Malka (28 September 2017) Les prédictions de Yuval Noah Harrari, L'arche magazine
  7. ^ a b Cadwalladr, Carole (5 July 2015). "Yuval Noah Harari: The age of the cyborg has begun – and the consequences cannot be known". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Harari".
  9. ^ "CV at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem". 2008.
  10. ^ "Historian Yuval Harari on the Books That Shaped Him – Activities". Berggruen Institute. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  11. ^ Yuval Noah Harari, Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry, 1100–1550 (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2007).
  12. ^ Yuval Noah Harari, The Ultimate Experience: Battlefield Revelations and the Making of Modern War Culture, 1450–2000 (Houndmills: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008)
  13. ^ Yuval Noah Harari, The Concept of 'Decisive Battles' in World History, in Journal of World History 18:3 (2007), 251–266.
  14. ^ Yuval Noah Harari, "Armchairs, Coffee and Authority: Eye-witnesses and Flesh-witnesses Speak about War, 1100–2000", The Journal of Military History 74:1 (January 2010), pp. 53–78.
  15. ^ Payne, Tom (26 September 2014). "Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, review: 'urgent questions'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  16. ^ Graeber, David; Wengrow, David (2021). "In which we dispose of lingering assumptions that 'primitive' folk were somehow incapable of conscious reflection, and draw attention to the historical importance of eccentricity". The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-72110-7. OCLC 1284998482.
  17. ^ Graeber, David; Wengrow, David (2021). "On slow wheat, and pop theories of how we became farmers". The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-72110-7. OCLC 1284998482.
  18. ^ Fast talk / The road to happiness, in Haaretz, 25 April 2012  
  19. ^ Drew, Joseph (Spring 2019). "Yuval Noah Harari. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. New. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2015 [review]" (PDF). Comparative Civilizations Review. 80: 142–148. Archived from the original on 2 December 2021.
  20. ^ Runciman, David (24 August 2016). "Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari review – how data will destroy human freedom". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  21. ^ Harari, Yuval Noah (2016). Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. London: Vintage. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-78470-393-6. OCLC 953597984.
  22. ^ Harari, Yuval Noah (2017). Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. London: Vintage. p. 429. ISBN 978-1-78470-393-6. OCLC 953597984.
  23. ^ Harari, Yuval Noah (26 August 2016). "Yuval Noah Harari on big data, Google and the end of free will". Financial Times. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  24. ^ Mukherjee, Siddhartha (13 March 2017). "The Future of Humans? One Forecaster Calls for Obsolescence". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  25. ^ Snell, James (25 August 2018). "Book review: Is '21 Lessons for the 21st Century' another hit for Yuval Noah Harari". The National. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  26. ^ Lewis, Helen (15 August 2018). "21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari review – a guru for our times?". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  27. ^ Russell, Jenni (19 August 2018). "Review: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari — chilling predictions from the author of Sapiens". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  28. ^ Sexton, David (23 August 2018). "Can mindfulness save us from the menace of artificial intelligence?". Evening Standard. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  29. ^ Jacobson, Gavin (22 August 2018). "Yuval Noah Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a banal and risible self-help book". New Statesman. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  30. ^ "21 Lessons for the 21st Century". Kirkus. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  31. ^ Brennan, David (23 July 2019). "Author Yuval Noah Harari Under Fire for Removing Putin Criticism From Russian Translation of New Book". Newsweek. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  32. ^ "Yuval Noah Harari Lets Russians Delete Putin's Lies From Translation of His Book". Haaretz. 23 July 2019. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  33. ^ Bershidsky, Leonid (24 July 2019). "Putin Gets Stronger When Creators Censor Themselves". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  34. ^ Slyomovics, Nettanel (24 July 2019). "Yuval Noah Harari's Problem Is Much More Serious Than Self-censorship". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  35. ^ Harari, Yuval Noah (26 July 2019). "Prof. Yuval Noah Harari Responds to Censoring Russian Translation of His Book". Haaretz. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  36. ^ "Livestream Event | An Evening With Yuval Noah Harari". How To Academy. 12 November 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  37. ^ a b c Schwartz, John (6 November 2022). "Yuval Noah Harari Unspools the Story of Human History — for Kids". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 November 2022.
  38. ^ Anthony, Andrew (9 March 2017). "Yuval Noah Harari: 'Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so'". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  39. ^ Adams, Tim (27 August 2016). "Yuval Noah Harari: 'We are acquiring powers thought to be divine'". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  40. ^ "Fast Talk / The Road to Happiness". Haaretz. 25 April 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  41. ^ "זה ייגמר בבכי: סוף העולם לפי יובל נח הררי". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  42. ^ Nevatia, Shreevatsa (14 October 2015). "Sadly, superhumans in the end are not going to be us". Mumbai Mirror. The Times Group. Archived from the original on 1 July 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  43. ^ Ferriss, Tim (30 October 2020). "Yuval Noah Harari on The Story of Sapiens, Forging the Skill of Awareness, and The Power of Disguised Books". The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss. The Tim Ferriss Show. Retrieved 30 June 2022. Oh, that's actually a mistake on Wikipedia. It's a moshav. It somehow got around that I live on a moshav, which is some kind of socialist, collective community, less radical than the kibbutz, but one of the experiments of socialists in Israel like decades ago. And it's just not true. I live in a kind of middle-class suburb of Tel Aviv.
  44. ^ Parker, Ian (10 February 2020). "Yuval Noah Harari's History of Everyone, Ever". The New Yorker. Retrieved 28 August 2023.
  45. ^ "Yuval Harari, author of "Sapiens", on AI, religion, and 60-day meditation retreats". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  46. ^ Adams, Tim (27 August 2016). "Yuval Noah Harari: 'We are quickly acquiring powers that were always thought to be divine'". The Guardian.
  47. ^ "How Humankind Could Become Totally Useless". Time. 16 February 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  48. ^ "Interview – Yuval Harari" (PDF). The World Today. Chatham House. October–November 2015. pp. 30–32. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 December 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  49. ^ "Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens and the age of the algorithm". The Australian. Josh Glancy. 3 September 2016. Archived from the original on 10 November 2016.
  50. ^ a b "Fast Talk The Road to Happiness". Haaretz. 25 April 2017.
  51. ^ "The messenger of inner peace: Satya Narayan Goenka; New Appointments". Vipassana Newsletter 23 (12). Vipassana Research Institute. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  52. ^ Homo Deus, Dedication and Acknowledgements p. 426
  53. ^ "Interview With Yuval Noah Harari: Masters in Business (Audio)". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  54. ^ "# 68 – Reality and the Imagination". Waking Up podcast. Sam Harris. 19 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  55. ^ Mayim Bialik and Yuval Noah Harari in conversation, SXSW Online 2021, 27 May 2021, retrieved 2 July 2021
  56. ^ HARARI: Change The Story! - Man on the Moon: Yuval Noah Harari x İlker Canikligil - B68. Flu TV. 2 October 2023.
  57. ^ Sterkl, Maria (25 April 2020). "Yuval Harari: Pandemic policy will influence world politics, economy for decades". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  58. ^ Harari, Yuval Noah (20 March 2020). "Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus". Financial Times. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  59. ^ "#390 - Yuval Noah Harari: Human Nature, Intelligence, Power, and Conspiracies". Spotify. 17 July 2023.
  60. ^ "Yuval Noah Harari". Rothberg International School. 20 February 2020. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  61. ^ Minds, Brand (18 October 2018). "Brand Minds 2019 — Come and see Yuval Noah Harari live!". Medium. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  62. ^ Hallpike, C. R. (December 2017). "A Response to Yuval Harari's 'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind'". New English Review. Archived from the original on 3 December 2021. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  63. ^ Martin, Mike W. (2020). "Compassion with Justice: Harari's Assault on Human Rights". The Southern Journal of Philosophy. 58 (2): 264–278. doi:10.1111/sjp.12367. S2CID 225862630.
  64. ^ Narayanan, Darshana (6 July 2022). "The Dangerous Populist Science of Yuval Noah Harari". Current Affairs. No. March/April 2022. ISSN 2471-2647. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  65. ^ Thiel, Thomas (21 November 2022). "Bestellerautor Yuval Noah Harari: Der Hausprophet des Silicon Valley". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). ISSN 0174-4909. Retrieved 21 November 2022.
  66. ^ "Aleksandr Dugin: My vision for the new world order and Gaza war".

External links edit

External videos
  21 Lessons for the 21st Century: Noah Harari, Matter Of Fact With Stan Grant, ABC News