How ideas spread through human brains | Yuval Noah Harari and Lex Fridman | Summary and Q&A

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July 18, 2023
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How ideas spread through human brains | Yuval Noah Harari and Lex Fridman

TL;DR

Stories, not individuals, are the primary living organisms and compete for survival and spread. However, stories themselves lack consciousness and the ability to feel.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Can you explain how stories, rather than individuals, are the primary living organisms?

Stories compete and survive throughout history, and it is the narratives that people are willing to fight and sacrifice for. People die, but stories continue to spread and shape the world.

Q: How do stories incite conflict, as seen in the case of Jerusalem?

The stories surrounding places like Jerusalem, where religious significance is attached, provoke people to fight over the narratives rather than the physical location itself. It is the stories that are at the root of the conflict.

Q: Do stories have consciousness and the ability to feel?

No, stories lack consciousness and the ability to feel. The ultimate reality and tragedy of human history lie in the suffering of individuals and animals, rather than in the fictional narratives created by stories.

Q: How should we approach the ethical implications of causing suffering?

When causing suffering, it is crucial to be aware of the cost and weigh whether it is worth it. While there may be certain instances where suffering is unavoidable, it is essential to continuously question the necessity and impact of our actions.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Stories, not people, compete and survive throughout history, often spreading by making people willing to sacrifice for them.

  • Stories, such as those surrounding Jerusalem, can incite conflict and violence, as people fight over the narratives rather than the physical location.

  • While stories play a significant role in shaping history, they lack the ability to feel, and it is the suffering of individuals and animals that represents the ultimate reality and tragedy of human history.

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