【English/日本語】Read an English book📖英語の本を読もう📚Sapiens―chapter#6 Imagined Orders

🇺🇸English✕ 上級日本語🇯🇵

英語でSapiens を読もう📖#6


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.6.

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.6 Building Pyramids 

第6章 神話による社会の拡大

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.


Comparison of Forager and Farmers

  • population of 10,000 B.C.
    • 5-8 million
  • where to live
    • in a territories covering many dozens and even hundreds of square kilometres.
  • possession
    • less due to be transportable.
  • population of the first century
    • 250 million.
  • where to live
    • in a house, no more than a few dozen metres.
  • psychological hallmark.
    • separate from others
    • became self-centered.
  • architectural hallmark.
    • fenced off
    • kept out wayward weeds and wild animals
  • possession
    • possessed more artifacts and became difficult to abandon their house.

 🚧工事中 🚧

  • Subsistence economy
    • discounted the future
    • lived from hand to mouth
  • Agricultural economy
    • seasonal cycle of production
      • long months of cultivation
      • short peak periods of harvest.
    • the mercy of droughts, floods and pestilence
      • be obliged to produce more than they consumed.

➜The foundation of large-scale political and social systems.

Large-scale political and social systems
  • rulers and elites sprang up.
    • they took peasants surplus food and left them with only a bare subsistence.
  • what the tiny minority of elites did is called history
    • kings, government officials, soldiers, priests, artists and thinkers.
    • built palaces, forts, monuments, and temples.

 🚧工事中 🚧

➜ The food surpluses and new transportation technology.

Creation of crowded cities
  • large villages
  • towns
  • cities
  • kingdoms and commercial networks.

➜ The food surpluses let Sapiens cooperate without an instinct for mass cooperation.

Mass cooperation
  • Human’s evolution➜ snail’s pace
    • For millions of years in small bands = no need for mass cooperation
    • The Agricultural Revolution didn’t give Sapiens enough time to evolve this instinct.
  • Human’s imagination
    • The Agricultural Revolution let sapiens used their shared myths to cooperate one another
    • It enabled them to build astounding networks of mass cooperation.
The largest settlement in the world
  • Around 8500 B.C. in Jericho
    • a few hundreds individuals.
  • By 7,000 B.C. in Çatalhöyük in Anatolia
    • between 5,000 and 10,000 individuals.
  • By 3,100 B.C.: the first Egyptian kingdom
    • hundreds of thousand of individuals
  • Around 2,250 B.C.: the first empire, the Akkadian.
    • a million subjects and 5,400 soldiers.
  • Between 1,500 and 1,000 B.40C.: the first mega-empires
    • many million subjects and tens of thousand of soldiers
      • the Late Assyrian Empire
      • the Babylonian Empire
      • the Persian Empire
  • Around 221 B.C
    • the Qin dynasty united China
      • 40 million subjects
      • complex tax bureaucracy
    • Rome united the Mediterranean basin.
      • 100 million subjects

➜ Not food shortages, but affluence caused history’s wars and revolutions.

Affluence did it.
  • The French Revolution
    • …was spearheaded by affluent lawyers
  • The Roman Republic
    • …collapsed into civil wars at the moment of maximum affluence.
  • Yugoslavia
    • …had disintegrated into a terrible bloodbath in 1991, when they had more than enough resources to feed all its inhabitants.

How do social norms sustain?
  • ❌ ingrained instincts
  • ❌ personal acquaintances
  • ❌ altruistic, voluntary, nor egalitarian
  • belief in shared myths = “imagined orders”
    • exist in the fertile imagination of Sapiens. (a figment of the imagination)
    • geared toward oppression and exploitation

Ex.1) Babylon of 1,776 B.C.
  • Code of Hammurabi
    • served for more than 1 million ancient Babylonians.
    • Hammurabi was a role model of a just king
    • a collection of laws and judicial decisions for a more uniform legal system
    • Three gods appointed Hammurabi to make justice prevail, to abolish the wicked and the evil, and to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak.
    • Social order was rooted in universal and eternal principles of justice, dictated by the gods.
    • The principle of hierarchy is of paramount importance: people are divided into two genders and three classes: superior people, commoners, and slaves.
    • If the king’s subjects all accepted their positions in the hierarchy and acted accordingly, the empire’s million inhabitants would be able to cooperate effectively.
Ex.2) American in 1,776 A.C.
  • American Declaration of Independence
    • served for hundreds of millions of modern Americans for 250 years.
    • proclaimed universal and eternal principles of justice, inspired by a divine power.
    • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
    • If humans act according to its sacred principles, millions of them would be able to cooperate effectively, living safely and peacefully in a just and prosperous society.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Biological term = without myths
  • People were NOT created but have evolved.
  • Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code and is exposed to different environmental influences, which leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival.
  • Human has NO unalienable rights, but only organs, abilities, and characteristics, which are mutable.
  • Human has neither liberty nor happiness but the pleasure.
  • If humans act according to its sacred principles, millions of them would be able to cooperate effectively, living safely and peacefully in a just and prosperous society.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men evolved differently, that they are born with certain mutable characteristics, and that among these are life and the pursuit of pleasure.

➜The biological term doesn’t help Sapiens to cooperate to create a stable and prosperous society. Sapiens believe a particular order not because it is objectively true, but because it enables them to cooperate effectively and forge a better society.

 🚧工事中 🚧

Violence and coercion
  • army
  • police force
  • court
  • prison
True believer
  • someone wield the orders.
    • bishops and priest
    • soldiers and commanders
    • police and jailers
    • judges and congressmen
    • investors and bankers
Why should they wish to enforce it?
  • They believe that the order can maintain large segments of the population.

 🚧工事中 🚧

  1. Never admit that the order is imagined.
  2. Insist that the order sustaining society is an objective reality created by the great gods or by the laws of nature.
  3. Educate people the principles of the imagined order thoroughly, from the moment they are born.

The humanities and social sciences devote most of their energies to explaining exactly how the imagined order is woven into the tapestry of life.

1. embedded in the material world
  • ➜ it allows them to believe it easily.
    • Modern people have an private room, it is based on the belief of individualism.
    • Medieval noblemen did not have an private room, because they believed the social hierarchy, and by what other people said about them.


2. it shapes our desires
  • ➜it becomes the most important defenses that support orders.
    • Modern people like to take a holiday abroad, that based on romantic consumerism.
      • Romanticism… tells us that in order to make the most of our human potential we much have as many different experiences as we can.
      • Consumerism… tells us that in order to be happy we must consume as many products and services as possible.
    • The elite of ancient Egypt dedicated their lives to building pyramids. Few question the myths that causes them to desire the pyramid in the first place.
3. It is inter-subjective
  • ➜ This imagination is shared with thousands and millions of people.
  • exists independently of human consciousness and human beliefs.
    • time
    • gravity
    • radioactive
  • exists depending on the consciousness and beliefs of a single individual.
    • an imaginary friend
  • exists within the communication network linking the subjective consciousness of many individuals.
    • law
    • money
    • gods
    • nations
    • human rights
  • In order to change them, we must simultaneously change the consciousness of billions of people with an alternative imagined order. A change of such magnitude can be accomplished only with the help of a complex organisation.
    • political party
    • ideological movement
    • religious cult

In order to break an imagined order, we need to believe in an alternative imagined order as well as an organization to convince many strangers to cooperate with one another.

➜ It means that we are in the prison walls made by imagined orders, and there is no way out of the imagined order since we live in a society that billions of Sapiens live together.

Summarize it concisely🦧章を簡潔にまとめる

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


After the Agricultural Revolution, Sapiens began to settle. Since agriculture is not constantly reliable, they became anxious about the future and produced surplus food. And, it led them to create larger cities. Although Sapiens didn’t have enough time to evolve an instinct for mass cooperation, they came up with utilizing fictive language, which was attained in the Cognitive Revolution. The shared myths became imagined orders and it sustains large segments of the population to cooperate with one another. Sapiens live in the world of imagined orders as if they were in a prison.


Make five questions to discuss🦧5つの質問を作る

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


Thematic question テーマに関する質問

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.



My opinion:

We learned what we believe to live is a figment of the imagination. The gods appointed Hammurabi to make justice prevail and prevent the strong from oppressing the weak. And, the American Declaration of Independence tells us that we are created equal. However, people today still suffer from oppression.

It is very interesting that the Code of Hammurabi which emphasized the principles of hierarchy cared about weak people and oppression as well as the American Declaration of Independence emphasized equality.

Today, people who suffer from oppression hope that social justice prevails.

According to the author, what we have to do is,

  1. create an alternative imagined order, such as “If people free from racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism, transphobia, adultism, semitism, and anti-arabism’ everyone will be able to cooperate effectively, living safely and peacefully in a just and prosperous society.
  2. never admit that social justice is imagined.
  3. insist that social justice can sustain society better as an objective reality.
  4. educate people with this principle.
  5. get the help of a complex organization, such as political party, an ideological movement, or a religious cult.






  1. 大体の想像上の秩序を作る。例えば「もし私たちが人種差別、性差別、異性愛偏重、障害者差別、階級差別、トランスフォビア、年齢差別、セミティズム、そして反アラブ主義を手放せば、誰もが皆効果的に協力し合い、安全に住まい、平和に暮らせる、公平で繁栄した社会が実現する。」
  2. この秩序が想像上のものであることは決して認めない。
  3. ソーシャルジャスティスは社会をよりよく維持するということは、客観的な事実であると主張する。
  4. この秩序を人々に教育する。
  5. 正当、イデオロギームーブメント、宗教カルト等の複雑な組織の助けを借りる。

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
perditionOthers insist that the Agricultural Revolution led to perdition.
alienationThis was the turning point, they say, where Sapiens cast off its intimate symbiosis with nature and sprinted towards greed and alienation.
forfeitThese forfeited food surpluses fuelled politics, wars, art, and philosophy.
oppressionMost human cooperation networks have been geared towards oppression and exploitation.
termexample sentence

In this chapter, the author mentioned what the humanities and social sciences study. They mostly devote themselves to explaining exactly how the imagined order is woven into the tapestry of life, and I was really happy to get a new perspective.


Since I am currently studying social justice, it gives me a new insight. If people can see our rules and norms in society has been changing its shapes as fluid and malleable, we can be more flexible about new value such as social justice.