Of all the fatuous gasbags darkening the intellectual landscape, Yuval Noah Harari is my current enemy #1. I refer you to the delightful and accurate dissection of him by the British conservative philosopher Roger Scruton in City Journal. Scruton writes:
“I admired the adroitness with which he quietly punctures the feminist illusion that the distinction between men and women is “socially constructed,” while at the same time suggesting that maybe men and women are in all relevant capacities the same. As we know, it is okay to admit that we are governed by biological laws but not okay to use that truth to distinguish one kind of human being from another—not, at least, without kowtowing to the thought police. It is testimony to Harari’s literary skill that he is able to combine his biological determinism with deferential nods toward the prevailing liberal orthodoxies. In fact, he defines himself as a liberal universalist, who sees nations, tribes, and exclusive communities as obstacles to the new world order. “….
“In his second volume, Homo Deus, Harari admits that democracy depends on restricted loyalties, since people feel bound by democratic elections only if they are also bound by mutual trust. Nevertheless, he peppers his argument with constant critical asides directed against Brexiteers, Trump supporters, Zionists, Roman Catholics, right-to-lifers, and the many others who reject the maxim that “Thou shalt not discriminate.”….
” Now, though, it is all out in the open. The myths have been debunked, and the truth that they concealed is exposed to our view. Meaning is a fiction; the reality is power. As Harari puts it, modernity offers us a deal: “Give up meaning in exchange for power.” There is no purpose in the world, only the unending chain of cause and effect. Hence human beings have no predetermined role, and we can use our knowledge as we please.”…
“In all this, Harari assumes that the biological science of human nature gives the true and full account of what we are. But I am something more, or something other, than the biological entity in which I am incarnate. I am also this “I,” this subjectivity that is both the owner of all the states of mind that matter to me and also the target of those attitudes in others (love, friendship, respect) that endow my life with a meaning. What do evolutionary theory and cognitive neuroscience tell me about this entity that I am? Is it even an entity? Can it be discovered by an MRI scan? Can it be mentioned in a scientific account, framed in terms of causal laws? Maybe it is not so much an item in the world as a point of view about it. Maybe it is, as Sartre argues, a Nothing, but a Nothing that is more important than all the somethings in its world.”
Read the full article here. Harari is fashionable tripe and Scruton shows us how and why.