Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?"

    Painting by Paul Gauguin, 1897. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston*  

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?  

The title of Paul Gauguin's masterpiece poses questions which have concerned Homo sapiens  for millenia, perhaps ever since our evolution 200,000 years ago in East Africa. A brilliant and engaging book which examines these questions has recently been published.

Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, Ph.D.  (Harper Collins, 2015).

From the book jacket:

"In Sapiens, Harari delves deep into our history as a species to help us understand who we are and what made us this way. An engrossing read." -- Dan Ariely, Duke University Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics.

"An encyclopedic approach from a well-versed scholar who is concise but eloquent, both skeptical and opinionated, and open enough to entertain competing points of view... The great debates of history aired out with satisfying vigor." -- Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"Harari's account of how we conquered the Earth astonishes with its scope and imagination... A bravura retelling of the human story... brilliantly clear, witty, and erudite... It really is thrilling and breathtaking; it actually does question our basic narrative of the world." -- Ben Shephard, The Observer (London)

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Professor Harari has created a fascinating video lecture course based on his book which "... surveys the entire length of human history, from the evolution of various human species in the Stone Age up to the political and technological revolutions of the twenty-first century." The series is available on You Tube via the link below.

A Brief History of Humankind

"D'ou venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Ou allons nous?" 

* Public Domain