【English/日本語】Read an English book📖英語の本を読もう📚Sapiens―chapter#8 Imagined Hierarchies

🇺🇸English✕ 上級日本語🇯🇵

英語でSapiens を読もう📖#8


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.8.

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.8 There is No Justice in History

第8章 想像上のヒエラルキーと差別

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.


Hierarchy’s characteristics
  • They are neither neutral nor fair.
  • The upper levels enjoy privileges and power.
  • The lower ones suffer from discrimination and oppression.
  • Every imagined hierarchy disavows its fictional origins and claims to be natural and inevitable.
  • The distinctions in a hierarchy have no known biological difference.
  • They are based on false and ridiculous criteria.

  • No large society that has been able to dispense with discrimination altogether.
  • They create categories, regulate relations, make some people legally, politically, or socially superior to others.
  • Hierarchies serve a function that provides how to treat one another without wasting the time and energy needed to become personally acquainted.

  • Diversities of aptitudes and character are usually meditated through imagined hierarchies.
    • Abilities
      • have to be nurtured and developed
      • to get a chance to cultivate and refine them is not equal
    • Play out
      • People belonging to different classes have to play the game by different rules.
      • The economic game was rigged by legal restrictions and unofficial glass ceilings.

 🚧工事中 🚧

How did it happen?
  • 3,000 years ago, invaders subjugated the local population and established a stratified society.
  • Divided the population into castes, each of which was required to pursue a specific occupation or perform a specific role in society
  • It became an inherent part of religious mythology and practice.
  • Contact with other castes could pollute society as a whole.
  • Concepts of purity and impurity enforced social and political divisions and have been exploited to maintain privileges.
  • Long after the Indo-Aryan invasion, even in modern India, people continue to believe in the caste system and to abhor the pollution cased by caste mixing despite all attempts by the democratic government of India to break down such distinctions.
The fear of pollution
  • It roots in biological survival mechanism that make humans feel an instinctive revulsion towards potential disease, carriers, such as sick persons and dead bodies.

 🚧工事中 🚧

How did it happen?
  • From the 16th to 18th century, the European conquerors imported millions of African slaves to America.
    • African slaves were economically most expedient.
      • Africa was closer
      • Existed a well-developed slave trade
      • African had a partial genetic immunity to some diseases
  • Ruling caste of white Europeans and a subjugated caste of black Africans.
  • Religious and scientific myths were pressed into service to justify this division.
Once occurs, it persists.
  • Even though slaves bacame freed, the racist myths persisted (a self-reinforcing cycle).
    • separation of the races
    • racist legislation
    • social custom
      • fear of disease… pollution
      • fear of brutality
      • fear of influences
      • stigmatizing blacks as by nature unreliable, lazy, less intelligent.
      • the stigma that labelled conspired agains blacks.
    • The paucity of blacks in white-collor jobs reinforce the myths ➜a self-reinforcing cycle

 🚧工事中 🚧

Men get a better deal
  • Oracle boens in 1,200 B.C. describes that the birth of a girl as a misfortune. 3,000 years later, under the ‘one child’ policy, some Chinese people abandon or murder new born baby girls in order to have another shot.
  • Women were simply the property of men. Rape was under property violation. As of 2006, there were still 53 countries where a husband could not be prosecuted for the rape of his wife.
  • The ancient Athenians believed that an individual posssessing a womb had no independent legal status. Today, women represent 12% of the member of Greece’s parliament.

Sexual relation
  • it is not a cultural bias but a biological reality
  • A significant number of human cultures viewed homosexual relation as legitimate and socially constructive, such as ancient Greece.
  • Biology enables, culture forbids.
  • Biology is willing to tolerate a spectrum of possibilities.
  • Nothing is unnatural biology.
  • Evolution has no purpose.
  • It is in constant flux.
Biological myths = Culture
  • Culture obliges people to realize some possibilities while forbidding others.
  • Culture tend to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural.
  • Concept ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ are taken from Christian theology.
Prototype and evolution
  • Organs evolve to perform a particular function. Then, it sometimes be adapted for other usages.
    • mouth for intake, not speaking
    • wings for absorbing more sunlight, not flying
    • sextual organ for procreation and cortship rituals, but now it is used for a multitude of social purposes.

 🚧工事中 🚧

  • biological category
    • chromosomes
    • reproductive organ
    • hormons (testosterone, oestrogen)
  • cultural category = a slot in a society’s imagined order.
    • define the roles, rights, and dueties.
    • varies from one society to another.
    • inter-subjective qualities
      • masculine
      • feminine
    • required a very complicated and demanding undertaking.
      • men must prove their masculinity constantly.
      • women must continually convince herself and others that she is feminine enough.

 🚧工事中 🚧

  • value men more highly than women
  • educate men to think and act in a masculine way
  • invest less to women
    • education
    • economic opportunities
    • political power
    • freedom of movement

➜ It is universal. But, why?

 🚧工事中 🚧

Greater physical power?
  • it allows men to monopolize tasks that demand hard manual labor.
  • it doesn’t explain why women have been excluded mainly from jobs that require little physical effort.
  • physical power alters along with aging, and it doesn’t explain why older people usually exercise power over younger people.
  • in forager societies, a person who possesses the best social skills are highly regarded than the most developed musculature.
  • Sapiens would have been in a middle rung in the food chain, but their mental and social skills placed them at the top.

 🚧工事中 🚧

Evolution and aggression
  • Million years of evolution have made men far more violent than women.
  • Men are more willing to engage in raw physical violence.
  • The greater the number of wars, the greater men’s control of society (= feedback loop explains both the ubiquity of war and the ubiquity of patriarchy.)
  • More aggression explains men better suited to serve as common soldiers.
  • But, why it couldn’t be managed by women.
  • The top officers did not work their way up from the rank of private; women do not have to serve as common soldiers.
  • The senior ranks were reserved for dukes, princes, and kings.
  • Management require not much physical strength or aggressiveness, but an extraordinary degree of organisation, cooperation, and appeasement.
    • Augustus’s feat is attributed by his virtue of mildness and clemency.

 🚧工事中 🚧

elephants, bonobo chimpanzees
  • dependent females control competitive males
  • females need external help, so that they develop their social skills.
  • males spend time fighting and competing.

During the last century, gender roles have undergone a tremendous revolution.

  • equal legal status
  • political rights
  • economic opportunities
  • legalizing same-sex marriage

 🚧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 important points of each.


Complex Sapiens societies seem to require imagined hierarchies and unjust discrimination. The Hindu caste system and racism in the U.S. are examples of a result of a set of accidental historical circumstances. Meanwhile, gender is another imagined hierarchy that exists universally stably. Sapiens created imagined order about manhood and womanhood, which are called gender, and constructed patriarchal societies. In contrast to the fact that biology tolerates a spectrum of possibilities, culture divides things into natural and unnatural then forbids and obliges. Although masculinity and femininity lack a firm biological basis, males strength and aggression are considered as the cause of its universality. However, these factors don’t relate to mental and social skills which are the significance of Sapiens. It doesn’t explain why one species whose success depends above all on cooperation, individuals who are supposedly less cooperative (men) control individuals who are supposedly more cooperative (woman). Today’s dramatic changes regarding gender roles seem to demonstrate that the patriarchal system is just one of imagined orders as well rather than being based on biological facts.



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: In this chapter, the author differentiates two types of hierarchies, which are the one that resulted from a historical event and the other that occurs universally. As the author points out in the last paragraph, today’s dramatic change might imply the possibility that the patriarchal society is based on imagined orders. What Sapiens have undergone about gender roles in the last century is a tremendous revolution. However, considering the fact that bonobo chimpanzees and elephants maintain matriarchal societies as genetic behaviors, it is naturally possible that Sapiens genes automatically lean a patriarchal society. As sheep evolved more submissive, women have passed genes of submissive caretakers, which were rooted in the pre-Cognitive Revolution and functioned in the forager’s society. After the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have reinforced this hierarchy with myths, along with the society becoming complex. Today’s revolution might reflect the Sapiens’ continuous advancement of their social skills. Through the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have reached to question that patriarchal society is no longer for Sapiens, only for foragers.


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
hierarchyThe caste hierarchy and racist hierarchy are all the products of human imagination.
dispenseNo large society has been able to dispense with discrimination altogether.
divisionReligious and scientific myths were pressed into service to justify the division into white and black.
Societies associate a host of attributes with masculinity and femininity that, for the most part, lack a firm biological basis.

I love this chapter, especially the argument that the author wields his logic for various sexual relationships in the section of He and She.


He argues that even though sexual relation between the same sex has been considered as ‘unnatural,’ it is just one of the myths that pressed into service by religions and science to justify.

Remember this can be his important field, considering he is sexual identity.



In order to let readers understand that sexual relation between the same-sex people is NOT unnatural, the author exploited two examples. One is a common organ, the mouth (he lets even Rambo appeared here, lol). The other is wings for insects and birds. Each organ has evolved to perform a particular function. However, it is then sometimes adapted for other usages, such as a multitude of social purposes.

Therefore, using sexual organs for not procreation but a social purpose is totally natural!



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