Review: Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow

Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Homo Deus is an insightful, irreverent, and thought provoking book that explores what motivates and connects humanity. Hararri discusses the evolution organizing ideas, including Theism, Humanism, and what he calls Dataism (for example, the idea of the “Quantified self” ) and how they reflect our ways of interaction.

Hararri draws some interesting parallels between religion, science and economic systems, in particular in terms of how they each have their own organizing principles and stories. In particular, I found the discussion of morality through various lenses particularly insightful; it got me thinking about how we can balance a principle of a right to a “pursuit of happiness” while also having a shared moral code. The general answer could be by measuring whether it impacts another life, but that question too depends on the code you believe in.

The idea that our ability to create and share stories helped humans for large networks,and thus become dominant, is central to the book. Stories and myth are powerful in creating unified organizing principles, and this power can be used for good and bad ends. An intersting insight, which resonates with current political discourse, is that myths can be more powerful than facts. Good facts are not always enough to gather people around a cause: sometime you need a good story to comment people even with fact.

Whether you are inclined to agree or not with Hararri’s ideas or approach, Homo Deus is a book that will challenge you to think about what drives you in your personal life and in interactions with the larger society. And that sort of thinking and the understanding it leads to can make for a stronger self and society.

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