Yuval Noah Harari on intelligence, consciousness, power of stories and more in the Lex Fridman Podcast
This podcast episode features a conversation between Lex Fridman and Yuval Noah Harari, where they discuss various topics including the relationship between intelligence and happiness, the potential existence of extraterrestrial life, the role of stories in shaping history, and the dangers of fascism and unchecked government power.
Intelligence is definitely not something that is directed towards amplifying happiness. – Yuval Noah Harari
Truth in Suffering and Human Agreements
Truth exists in the context of suffering and human agreement.
The impact of suffering is real, even if caused by fictional stories.
Being truthful about the origins of rules allows for changes and improvements.
The Role of Stories in Shaping History
Stories create identities and interests, defining competing groups in society.
Historical events have been shaped by the power of stories and ideologies.
And I realized, I was quite young at the time, that if you are dead, you can’t hear anything because you, that’s the meaning of being dead. And if you’re dead, you can’t think of anything. Like, oh, now they’re remembering… Because you are dead. That’s the meaning of being dead. And it was a shocking realization. – Yuval Noah Harari
Unpredictability and small decisions
Small decisions and accidents have influenced history, alongside larger structural forces.
Great leaders play a role in shaping narratives and spreading ideas.
The Corrupting Nature of Power
Liberalism acknowledges the corrupting nature of power and embraces the need for checks and balances.
Communist and fascist regimes disregard truth, beauty, and human suffering.
Fear of Death
The fear of death is deeply rooted in the human condition, and people often fragment it into smaller fears.
Overcoming the fear of death means facing anything with courage and resilience.
All our fears come out of the fear of death, but the fear of death is just so deep and difficult. We can’t, usually we can’t face it directly. So we cut it into little pieces and we face just little pieces. – Yuval Noah Harari
The Meaning of Life
According to Harari, the meaning of life lies in experiencing sensations, emotions, and reacting to them.
Life is about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
Understanding life requires observing it directly and nonverbally.
To understand suffering, it is important to examine its roots and the reality of what is happening.
By doing so, one can gain a deeper understanding of life and potentially alleviate unnecessary suffering.