Sunday, December 01, 2013

Happy Happy Joy Joy?

Are we happier than our remote ancestors? Were the citizens of ancient Babylon happier than the hunter gatherers who lived there twenty thousand years ago? There is no doubt, says Professor Harari, that we live in an era of unprecedented material prosperity and collective power to control our environment. Historians rarely ask questions like these, but The Prof thinks them important.

There are, of course, lots of theories, and people come down on all sorts of sides. A related question is whether our present prosperity is a transitory phase doomed by our relentless destruction of the natural environment. Have we produced a mechanistic world that makes us miserable in spite of relative material prosperity? He intends to discuss the various notions in more detail in the current segment of lectures, entitled: And they all lived happily ever after.