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MAGYARÁZAT:Konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Another astonishing konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century brilliant book from Yuval Noah Harari. From a lesser public intellectual his title might be considered a touch hubristic. Well, fortunately there is — so the rest of us can breathe again and have some konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century for our lesser but hard-won learning. It would be impossible to do justice here to all twenty-one topics that the author has chosen to explore. He divides the book into five parts: the technological challenge, the political challenge, despair and hope, truth, and resilience. Every section of the book contains touches of great brilliance and it is fair to say that there is not a single chapter that will fail to enthral most readers in some respect. I found the three chapters on Liberty, Equality and Community especially engaging. Ideas burst from every page; many of these are highly controversial so there is never a dull moment. Adherents to orthodox faiths will probably find his ideas more challenging than those of a more liberal persuasion because this is not only a compendium of academic ideas but a highly personal — even passionate — statement of faith, albeit a rather bleak faith in the nature of humanity, the state of the world and our future prospects. At the end of the book he traces his own personal journey in search of faith and meaning, his rejection of any religious viewpoint, and his own reliance on a particular form of meditation which he practises for two hours a day to maintain, if not his sanity, then his clarity of mind.
They say a bad ending ruins a good story and it is tempting to think in that way about this brilliant book because there are many logical weaknesses in this closing credo. Harari reveals that his views are often based on assumptions which he chooses not to examine. In this way, Harari is self-revelatory in a way that he is not in Sapiens and reveals that his views are often based on assumptions which he chooses not to examine. This belief, along with its concomitant practices, does seem to provide Harari with a detachment which allows for penetrating thought uncluttered by the emotions which can detract from a purely rational response to both personal and world crises; but I wonder whether it is the solution to a world which needs empathy and compassion as well as reasoned argument. More specifically he says. Why does one person aspire to be more religious, while another is "konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century" happy to remain an atheist? He neglects to tell us that this is an assumption based on a theory, or at least to remind us here that although areas of the brain can be isolated as being connected to each of these emotions, the nature of consciousness means that the source or purpose of these emotions cannot be stated categorically. Christian theology holds that Heaven has descended into the world of matter enabling God to operate through biochemistry and the whole machinery of matter. It is surprising that Harari is so categorical about determinism, given the enormous philosophical problems involved.
No advance whatever towards any understanding of reality — however we define it. Moreover, of course, if our wills are not free and konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century thoughts and actions are determined by our genes then we cannot be held responsible for our behaviour. Moreover, how and when could such people be released? He is clear that the twentieth century offered three global stories: fascism, communism and liberalism. He then continues by asking:. Could traditional religion and nationalism provide the answers that escape the liberals, and could they use ancient wisdom to fashion an up-to-date world view? It is a question that may become increasingly pressing as we face ecological collapse, technological disruption to our sense of self brought on by advances in artificial intelligence, and world-wide unemployment where the masses have become not exploited but merely irrelevant:. Indeed, already today computers and algorithms are beginning to function as clients in addition to producers. In the stock exchange, for example, algorithms are becoming the most important buyers of bonds, shares and commodities. Harari's scepticism about metanarratives prevents him from having the sort of vision that Christians might have. But of course, his scepticism about any of the metanarratives that describe world history in terms of story, prevents him from having the sort of vision that Christians might have. Namely that in such a situation the Church would have both motive and opportunity as never before both to fill the vacuum with an example that shows how fulfilment comes from service of others rather than self-serving and to tell a compelling story which makes sense of everything from Creation to Armageddon.
Christians who are unemployed would have scope for full-time volunteering and could understand that our sense of worth is not to be found mainly in our status as employees but in our redemption from futility through the work of Christ. One of the fascinations of this book is the way that it constantly presses towards a theological understanding of the world without the recognition that it is doing so. As we have seen, the author has already asked whether religion might be useful in fashioning a new view of the world, and at the end of chapter two on Work he recognises that even global schemes for Universal Basic Income UBI will not provide the satisfaction humans crave. Harari constantly presses towards a theological understanding of the world without recognising that he is doing so. That view is highly compatible with theology and we should not forget that the monastic movement past and present has espoused the ideal laborare et orare — to work meaningfully for the community and to pray. For a thousand years this ideal was aimed at throughout Europe with no little success. The penultimate chapter is entitled Meaning, and it is significant that this is, by a large margin, the longest chapter of the book. Pursuing the theological undercurrent Harari, seemingly in contradiction of himself, writes:. When you are confronted by some great story, and you wish to know whether it is real or imaginary, one of the key questions to ask is whether the central hero of the story can suffer. Now this is very interesting to students of literature and of history because suffering does pervade almost every corner of both. No story would be real without it. Even our comedies often rely on the fact that laughter is directed at the discomfiture of one of the characters; our love stories and letters are often anguished and the greatest stories of all are frequently tragic.
When he comes to the Christian story he writes:. It has the flimsiest of foundations. What evidence do we have that the son of the Creator of the entire universe was born as a konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century life form somewhere in the Milky Way about 2, years ago? For a religion which prides itself on its historicity, Harari's dismissive approach to Christianity is inadequate to his subject. If we ignore the clever rhetoric which is designed to reduce both the unique nature of humans among all life forms and the reductive reference to this utterly astonishing planet, we can see more clearly that Harari is failing, perhaps refusing, to consider properly those foundations. He mentions only the location of Galilee and the virgin birth as matters for doubt and, surely, this does not constitute an argument worthy of the name. For a religion which prides itself on its historicity — the fact that the whole of Christianity stands or falls on the veracity of the words and deeds of its founder as being actually spoken and acted out and then recorded on an historical stage — and on the weight konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century the documentary evidence to support this, this dismissive approach is inadequate to his subject. There is, however, a further curious irony. For the most part, Harari avoids the extreme stance of the militant atheists and is refreshingly balanced on many topics.
But on the matter of the inadmissibility of any metanarrative that is true to reality he is very one-sided and actually inconsistent. He describes the Zionist story and by implication every other story as myopic, but then tells another story which he does believe:. Eternity is at the very least Christians are free to believe this or not many do but all can see that this is nothing if not a story, a great narrative spanning all of time. But most people can also see that just because a story takes in a great deal of time and space, that does not, of itself, make it more important or thrilling than another. A konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century life might be far more influential than a long one and a story enacted on a small stage might change people and history more than some extended and rambling events crossing continents. This too shares much with Jewish and Christian theology and raises the question of whether the human concept of the ideal, of moral perfection, is not more than just a product of evolutionary forces. Harari wonders whether religions can help solve the major problems we face and then makes a good case that science has been so successful in improving crop yields and medicines that religion, which used to be used as a protection against pests and diseases, has lost its authority to the scientists. But Christians would konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century that using God as a means of achieving your own ends is to misunderstand the nature of the relationship he created us to enjoy. Aspects of the Old Testament do suggest this is how humanity, or bronze age Hebrews at any rate, sometimes conceived of God — but their prophets frequently warned against it. His plans are both bigger konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century more subtle than that. The chapter on Religion is a far cry from the diatribes we have come to expect from other secular commentators. But what, we might reply, if a religion were to divest itself of all means of temporal power and any link to any single nation or ethnic grouping, eschew any form of coercive behaviour and proclaim unselfish love of your neighbour not just toleration as the supreme divine commandment?
Would that not be a major force for good? It is not an idea that the author explores — but it sounds very close up to the teachings of a certain Jewish carpenter. But in that space he manages to fit a great deal of common sense as well some ideas many would want to question. These ideas and many others are reasoned and hard to deny but the chapter, being so short, is necessarily sketchy and especially misleading when it comes to the nature of biblical authority and the separate issue of ethics. To the best of our scientific knowledge, all these sacred texts were written by imaginative Homo sapiens. Thus far, most though not all Christians would have no quarrel with a careful reading of these two sentences — while recognising that Harari, as a non-scientist, does love using scientific expressions to seemingly debunk religious ideas. This is held to be true even when those thoughts were given as an example to be avoided, and not in keeping with the nature of God as revealed elsewhere in Scripture. The grounds for believing that rest not in blind faith or magic but in the extraordinary and uniquely compelling records of the life, death and resurrection of Christ which have probably been more minutely examined and dissected than any other documents in history. On the subject of 'Godless ethics', Harari assumes the very thing his argument requires him to prove. Within this chapter Harari has a very insightful passage on the third of the Ten Commandments which he says we should take more seriously if the world is to be a better place. Good advice indeed. But here Harari is assuming the very thing his argument requires him to prove. In philosophy this is known as begging the question. He has begun this section with the straightforward observation that moral behaviour helps to maintain the social order and then assumes that it is therefore merely a product of evolution.
But whether we accept the Aristotelian or Kantian or Utilitarian view of ethics, these all require a consciousness of self, an ability to reflect upon virtue or duty or happiness respectively which even the most doctrinaire theorists could not prove to be normative behaviour among rats. Without these concepts ethics is no longer ethics. Indeed, if the processes were the same then we ought to accord rats the same rights as ourselves which I doubt any government in the world would be willing to contemplate. Covert self-interest, whether for the individual or the group, is not the whole history of ethics. To believe otherwise is not only indistinguishable from extreme cynicism but also not the way humans conceive themselves and it flies in the face of the evidence of experience. This is a chapter in which Harari seems to have taken leave of his rational detachment and adopted a stance which relies on such special pleading that he is bound to alienate a proportion of his audience — at least all of those who have learned to think critically. This is not just putting the cart before the horse but pretending the road they use was built by the horse and cart. Who thought up this code? Which august committee or farsighted government gave rise to it? What longstanding tradition is it the product of? At what date did it first come into practice? So much the dictionaries will tell us. Many good people have espoused such a position, but the point is, so have countless bad ones and people of every shade of opinion, policy and action. All were secular rather than religious and each put their own schemes for aggrandisement or the common good or self-gratification at the centre of their worlds. Harari reveals that he has an agenda here different from his usual professed objective stance.
But does he really think that these qualities are those of the individuals listed above or occupied the same place in pre-Christian societies as they did afterwards? Courage, yes, was certainly part of the classical and indeed barbarian worlds but nobody could assert that compassion, equality or freedom were ideals to which Roman law, entertainment or domesticity felt any moral need to aspire to. As so many writers of every shade of religious opinion and none have shown, Christian ethics cleansed, abashed and humanised Roman society. The tone of this chapter becomes more strident as it develops and verges on the ridiculous at one point where the author claims that:. It is therefore groundless to criticise secularism for konyv: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century ethical commitments…In fact, the main problem with secularism is just the opposite.