Thursday, July 25, 2024

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

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A review of the book- 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, a historian and anthropologist

History is in a state of flux, it is unevenly spread over time and space.

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Even as history is in a state of flux, the world is undergoing a lot of changes, changes many of which are tumultous by nature.

Behind those multiplicity of changes constitute various social forces.

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Yuval Noah Harari, a historian and most of the world’s most prominent public intellectuals wrote yet another masterpiece.

It is not related to Sapiens-A Brief History of Humankind or Homo Deus-A Brief History of Tomorrow.

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The name of the book is 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

Sum and Substance

The author delves into various challenges that the world of the 21st century is facing. He has divided the book into five parts- technological challenge, political challenge, hope and despair, truth and resilience.

In each section he has dedicated key themes from the point of a challenge.

A key part of the first thing is the impact of new disruptive changes on key political values like liberty, equality.

He has delved deep into the very concept of how these are enmeshed with our changing perception of work.

Harari argues that artificial intelligence will be the biggest opportunity provider as well as threat to humanity.

You might wonder how exactly?

Well, to make the point clear- Artificial intelligence has commenced gradual automization which will reduce the need for human labour.

Further, reskilling the human labour force will require an expending a lot of resources, so why go for the trouble?

This will lead to large scale layoff, at least in many high end technological sectors which will lead to disillusionment thanks to the changing nature of work.

The disillusionment will contribute to spillover effects on liberty and equality and the changing nature of humans schedule.

Under political challenges, Harari discusses immigration, terrorism, community, civilisation and religion.

Of these I feel that everyone of the following is important.

Immigration is a key reason behind the uptick in terrorism i.e. Islamist terrorism in European countries.

Seen on the other hand, it is changing the demographic balance of different countries in the world and is changing the meaning of different communities and civilizations.

The Euro-Atlantic world today is a cosmopolitan place marked by multiculturalism where the functioning of various religions is affecting the global societal discourse.

Other Areas

The section under truth is very interesting, it covers topics like post-truth, ignorance, justice and science fiction.

Of these post-truth is the most interesting.

Post-truth means the fact that truth can, in this 21st century be twisted in such a form that it will change the very context and nature of human civilization.

In that context, post-truth affects the very meaning of justice and affects it very much.

However, the way in which truth is twisted, it can lead to deliberate governmental machinations into making the people ignorant at large.


In the final section, Harari has prescribed meditation, meaning and education as the means of seeking salvation.

Salvation here means rescuing humanity and the planet for rejuvenation from global problems.

Overall, the book is a scintillatingly good read!



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