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Cognitive Revolution in Homo Sapiens

Cognitive Revolution refers to the period (70,000 years ago) when Homo sapiens developed cognitive abilities that surpassed other animals during that era. The cognitive mutation enabled them to acquire better linguistic skills, making it possible to ingest, store and share information about the surrounding environment (Harari, 2015). The change in DNA also gave the Sapiens the power to imagine things they had never seen or touched.

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What distinguishes human language from other animals is the ability to manipulate a limited number of sounds to produce infinite words and sentences, each with a different meaning. Other animals like the green monkeys may only use different types of calls or sounds to warn each other that a lion is in the vicinity. However, Sapiens can also imagine a lion as the guardian spirit of their tribe.

Sapiens have superior knowledge that mainly contributes to their success with other species. The author asserts that “Homo Sapiens conquered the world thanks to its unique language” (Harari, 22). The two central functions of language include gossiping and talking about things that do not exist. It was important for Sapiens to gossip about the individuals they thought were honest, sleeping together, or hated each other within the group. They could also use language to discuss things they had never seen before, such as gods or spirits. Such myths offered them unprecedented ability to do things collectively like to organize into groups.

Gossips and myths enable Sapiens to form two types of human communities. In this case, the maximum ‘natural’ size of a group joined or bonded by gossip includes 150 people. This allows them to interact and talk about individuals they know intimately. Nothing exists beyond the stories people invent and convey to each other. However, when the group grows beyond the required threshold, it becomes impossible to gossip. Consequently, the common beliefs or myths about gods and human rights allow a large group of strangers to work together (Harari, 2015). This type of cooperation is responsible for the creation of settlements comprising thousands of inhabitants.

“An Imagined Order” refers to a directive that humans obey even if it is not grounded in an objective reality. It is based on stories that people invent, tell and attach meaning to (like gods) and then set rewards and punishments for obeying them. The Code of Hammurabi comprises rules used to create a social order in ancient Mesopotamia. It commanded the Mesopotamians that god Anu and Enlil (the leading deities) elected Hammurabi to stop privileged people from oppressing disadvantaged individuals and making justice prevail. One of the directives reads, “If a superior man kills the daughter of another superior man, the killer’s daughter is executed as punishment” (Harari, 106). This is a powerful intersubjectivity myth because people never questioned why the murderer should not be punished in the first place.

References

Aristotle. (2011). Nicomachean ethics. The University of Chicago

Harari, Y. N. (2015). Sapiens: A brief history of humankind. Harper.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, October 20). Cognitive Revolution in Homo Sapiens. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/cognitive-revolution-in-homo-sapiens/

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