About 2 million years ago our human
ancestors were insignificant animals living in a corner of Africa. Their impact on the world was no greater than
that of gorillas, zebras, or chickens. Today humans are spread all over the
world, and they are the most important animal around. The very future of life
on Earth depends on the ideas and behavior of our species.
This course will explain how we humans have conquered planet Earth, and how
we have changed our environment, our societies, and our own bodies and minds.
The aim of the course is to give students a brief but complete overview of
history, from the Stone Age to the age of capitalism
and genetic engineering. The course invites us
to question the basic narratives of our world. Its conclusions are enlightening
and at times provocative. For example:
rule the world because we are the only animal that can believe in things that
exist purely in our own imagination, such as gods, states, money and human
Humans are ecological serial killers – even with stone-age tools, our ancestors wiped
out half the planet's large terrestrial mammals well before the advent of
Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud – wheat domesticated
Sapiens rather than the other way
is the most universal and pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised.
Money is the only thing everyone trusts.
is the most successful political system humans have invented, and our present
era of anti-imperial sentiment is probably a short-lived aberration.
is a religion rather than just an economic theory – and it is the most
successful religion to date.
treatment of animals in modern agriculture may turn out to be the worst crime
are far more powerful than our ancestors, but we aren’t much happier.
· Humans will soon disappear. With the help of novel technologies, within a few
centuries or even decades, Humans will upgrade themselves into completely
different beings, enjoying godlike qualities and abilities. History began when
humans invented gods – and will end when humans become gods.