【English/日本語】Read an English book📖英語の本を読もう📚Sapiens―chapter#2 the Cognitive Mutation

🇺🇸English✕ 上級日本語🇯🇵

英語でSapiens を読もう📖#2


For English learners!

Hello everyone, how’s your English learning journey going?😃 Reading an English book is sometimes a long journey. You might inadvertently stop if you are alone. But no worries. You are at the right place already. I would like to explore an English book here so that you can try reading the book with me. We are not alone. Let’s enjoy a fun time reading!

The book, which I picked up this time, is called Sapiens, published by Yuval Noah Harari. The Amazon Kindle link below allows you to read up to chapter 3. Today, I am covering chapter 2.

You can check out my recommending strategy of reading as well as a bit of information about this book with a link below. Okay then, let’s get started📖






Ch.2 The Tree of Knowledge

第2章 虚構が協力を可能にした

Grasp the structure!🦧構成を把握する

To grasp the chapter, you just try to see its hierarchical configuration. I strongly recommend drawing it either physically or virtually.


150,000-70,000 years ago
  • looked just like us today
  • did not enjoy any marked advantage over other human species
  • their cognitive abilities: learning, remembering, communicating, were far more limited
  • 100,000 years ago, Sapiens reached in the Middle East, and Neanderthals repelled them.
70,000-30,000 years ago
  • around 70,000years ago, Sapiens left Africa and reached Europe and East Asia, driving the Neanderthals and all other human species out.
  • around 45,000 years ago, Sapiens landed in Australia
  • the first objects that can reliably be called “art”
A revolution in Sapiens’ cognitive abilities
  • What caused it?
    • accidental genetic mutations changed the inner wiring of the brains of Sapiens
  • What was so special?
    • 1. its language is amazingly supple
      • ingest, store, and communicate a prodigious amount of information
    • 2. a means of sharing information about the world
      • develop tighter and more sophisticated types of cooperation
    • 3. an ability to speak about fictions
      • enable to cooperate in extremely flexible ways with countless numbers of stranger

 🚧工事中 🚧

coalition and size
  • chimpanzee
    • a large and stable coalition limits to the size of groups: 20-50
  • both archaic and today’s humans
    • friendships and hierarchies: 150 individuals
    • based on intimate acquaintance and rumor-mongering
    • no need for formal ranks, titles, and loaw books to keep order
Over 150 individuals
  • large numbers of strangers can cooperate by believing in common myths
  • modern institutions function on same things as well as gohsts and spirits
Example of common myth: Peugeot
  • a figment of our collective imagination
  • ‘legal fiction, ‘ or a legal entity
  • humanity’s most ingenious inventions
  • social constructs
  • imagined reality
  • communal belief
  • figment of our fertile imaginations

Today, the very survival of rivers, trees, and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as gods, nations, and corporations.

 🚧工事中 🚧

How to revise imagined reality?
  • it didn’t require the genetic mutations
  • outstrippled all other human and animal species in its ability to cooperate
  • determined by genes: DNA, genetic tendency
    • chimpanzee usually live in patriarchal hierarchies
    • bonobos usually live in martriarchal hierarchies
    • After the genetic mutations resulted in the appearence of a new human spieces, Homo erectus, they did not undergo further genetic alterations for 2 million years.
  • influenced by environmental factors
  • individual quirks
  • significant changes in social behavior cannot occur in general without genetic mutations
What did Cognitive Revolution bring about
  • enabled to change their behavior within a decade or two
    • transform their social structures
    • transform the nature of their interpersonal relations
    • transform their economic activities
    • transform a host of other behaviors

 🚧工事中 🚧

Before and after the Cognitive Revolution
  • biology
    • the doing of all human species belonged to the realm of biology until the Cognitive Revolution
  • culture
    • to take into account the interaction of ideas, images, and fantasies
    • diversity of behavior patterns
  • history
    • they never ceased to change and develop: unstoppable alterations

The difference between humans and chimpanzees was the mythical glue that binds together large numbers of individuals

 🚧工事中 🚧

Summarize the chapter concisely🦧章を一言でまとめる

To summarize, check the hierarchical configuration and make sentences with significant points of each.


Between 70,000 and 30,000 years ago, Sapiens experienced genetic mutations that improved cognitive abilities. It enabled them to cooperate in large numbers by speaking. Today, such figments of fertile imaginations seize their power and control the very survival entities, such as animals, trees, and nature. Moreover, unlike other species, Sapiens were able to change their behaviors quickly without genetic mutations. These abilities enabled Sapiens to put the highest position in the food chain.


Make questions to discuss🦧ディスカッション用の質問を作ろう

To discuss, make questions. It gives you a great topic to talk about in English.


Evaluative question 全体的な評価についての質問

How effective is the presentation in whole or in part? Why did the speaker/author make these choices and how well do they work?

Many possible answers can be found outside of the presentation but it’s a reference



My opinion: It is realistic. Sapiens devised numerous figments by their fertile imaginations. In order for corporations to prosper rivers, trees, and waters are okay to be used as just resources. It even seems that fictive language itself controls Sapiens. Sapiens cannot stop deforestation in Amazon because corporations need to expand their profits. It’s impacted not only rivers, trees, and other animals but also Sapiens habitats.


five questions for discussion🦧ディスカッション用の5つの質問

How does this make me feel? What does it remind me of?

There are many correct answers that are related to one’s experience; they can be found outside of the text/speech.

  • Have you ever…?
  • Does it make you angry when…?
  • Which part did you like?
  • How hard was this to understand?



  • こんな経験ありますか
  • こんなとき、怒った気持ちになりますか
  • どのパートが気に入りましたか
  • これを理解するのは難しかったですか

What does it say?

One correct answer is found in the text.

  • Who is …?
  • What happens first?
  • Where are …?
  • What is the difinition of this word?



  • これは誰?
  • 何が最初に起きた?
  • これはどこですか?
  • この言葉の定義はなんですか?

What does it mean? How are the parts connected? What is the reason for people’s actions?

There is more than one possible answer, but the viewer’s opinion is based directly on the text.

  • Why did the speaker…?
  • What can we say about the speaker’s point of view?
  • What is the significance of the title?
  • What did the speaker mean when they said…?



  • どうして話者は...?
  • 話者の視点について、どんなことが言えますか。
  • タイトルにはどんな意味があるでしょう。
  • 話者が...といったのはどういう意味でしょう。

What is the message beyond this presentation? What are the greater issues or questions this piece deals with?

The presentation is not directly referenced in the question. There are many possible answers found outside of the presentation, but it’s a starting point.

  • How do people…?
  • Why do people…?
  • What is the truth about…?



  • 人々はどうやって...?
  • どうして人々は...?
  • ...の真実は何でしょう?

How effective is the presentation in whole or in part? Why did the speaker/author make these choices and how well do they work?

Many possible answers can be found outside of the presentation but it’s a reference.

  • Is it realistic when …?
  • How does the speaker use … to show …?
  • Would this be better if …?
  • Is the speaker biased towards/against…?



  • この箇所は現実味がありますか。
  • 話者がこの...をどのように表現しましたか。
  • もし...であればもっとよかったですか。
  • 話者は...の考え方に偏っていますか。

Expressions and terms🦧覚えておきたい単語・表現

Pick some terms that you are unfamiliar with from sentences you high-lightened and memorize them because you need them to discuss this chapter!!


termexample sentence
figmentPeugeot is a figment of our collective imagination.
engageNo animal other than Sapiens engages in trade.
alterationOnce cultures appeared, they never ceased to change and develop, and these unstoppable alterations are what we call ‘history.’
bindThe real difference between us and chimpanzees is the mythical glue that binds together large numbers of individuals, families, and groups.

It was really interesting how the Cognitive Revolution was remarkable. It gave Sapiens fictive language, and that enabled Sapiens to have a larger community. Moreover, this ability enabled them to change their behaviors without genetic mutations. Now, I am really enjoying seeing the Sapiens world from the perspective of how Sapiens use their fictive languages in their everyday lives.