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【English/日本語】Read an English book📖英語の本を読もう📚Sapiens―chapter#13 History’s Choice

英語でSapiens を読もう📖#13


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 13.

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.13 The Secret of Success

🦧第13章 歴史の必然と謎めいた選択

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.


The process of global world
  • process of expansion and unification
    • many small cultures
    • ➜few large cultures
    • ➜a single global society
    • an inevitable result of the dynamics of human history
  • contributors
    • commerce
    • empires
    • universal religions
How would other outcomes be?
  • an impossible experiment to go back in time to 10,000 years ago and set the process going again and see.
  • an examination of two characteristics of history can provide us something

 🚧工事中 🚧

Myriad paths
  • fork off into the future
    • wider, smoother, and better marked paths
    • unexpected turns
Roman Empire, in the 4th century
  • a wide horizon of religious possibilities
    • its traditional and variegated polytheism
    • Christianity
  • Constantine
    • looking back on a fractious civil war
    • a single religion with a clear doctrine could help to unify his ethnically diverse realm?
    • he opted for Jesus from many options
  • Historians
    • they can speculate but cannot explain this particular possibility was realized.
    • deterministic explanations of events
      • determinism…all events resulted from other events, so people cannot choose what to do
      • history attribute to the workings of biological, ecological, or economic forces.
      • there was something about geography, genetics, or economy there that made the rise of a monotheist religion inevitable.
      • those who have only a superficial knowledge of a certain period tend to focus only on the possibility that was eventually realized
      • explain with hindsight
      • look back and think that the answers were obvious
    • most historians
      • the better you know a particular historical period, the harder it becomes to explain why things happened one way and not another.
View at that time
  • most clueless of all
  • future was a fog
  • what looks inevitable in hindsight was far from obvious
  • seem very unlikely to contemporaries often get realized
Is everything possible?
  • no, geographical, biological, and economic forces create constraints.
  • yet, still ample room for surprising developments remains
  • it is just a coincidence that most people today believe in nationalism, capitalism, and human rights.
  • cannot be deterministic
Why it isn’t deterministic?
  • it is chaotic
  • many forces are at work
  • interactions are so complex
  • extremely small variations of the strength of forces and the way of interaction make a huge differences in outcomes
‘Level two’ chaotic system
  • Level one chaos
    • it does not react to predictions about it
    • it is influenced by myriad factors
    • computer model can be build for predictions
      • weather
      • prophets
  • Level two chaos
    • it reacts to predictions about it, and therefore can never be predicted accurately
    • predictions of infallible computer program affect reactions
      • markets
      • politics

Studying history is to widen our horizons, to understand the present situations and many possibilities.

 🚧工事中 🚧

Benefits of humans
  • We lack an objective scale on which to measure the benefit of humans.
  • Successful cultures do not mean more beneficial.
  • Benefits are evident only if one accept its culture’s view.
    • Christianity or Manichaeism?
    • Arab Empire or Sassanid Persians?
A mental infection or parasite
  • cultural ideas live inside the minds of humans
  • cultural ideas multiply and spread from one host to another
  • cultural ideas occasionally weaken the hosts and sometimes even kill them
  • cultural ideas compel a human to dedicate their life to spreading that idea
  • cultural ideas emerge accidentally, and thereafter take advantage of all people infected by them
  • cultural ideas are not conspiracies
  • culture evolves based on the replication of cultural information units called ‘meme.’
  • successful cultures excel in reproducing their memes, irrespective of the costs and benefits to their human hosts.
  • most scholars in the humanities disdain it as a crude biological analogies.
  • memetics’s twin sister
  • most scholars see cultures as propagating themselves with little regard for the benefit of humankind.
Game theory’s view
  • views and behavior patterns that harm all players nevertheless manage to take root and spread.
    • Arm races between Pakistan and India
  • it spreads like a virus
  • it harms everyone but benefits itself
  • it has no awareness
  • it doesn’t consciously seek to survive and reproduce

History disregards the happiness of individual organisms. And individual humans are usually far too ignorant and weak to influence the course of history.

 🚧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.


We cannot explain the choices that have been made in history. Some historians attribute it to a certain cause, but that is the hindsight fallacy. Rather history is just for us to help understand nothing natural or inevitable, and to imagine that the world might well arranged differently. Also, the dynamics of history are not directed towards enhancing human well-being. Rather, culture has no awareness, spread, harm everyone, and benefits only itself.


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.


Interpretive question 解釈についての質問

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.



My opinion: Clio is the name of the Muse of history in Greek Mythology. The Muse of history sounds like a god to manage history. In the viewpoint of polytheism, history have been controlled for the benefits of humankind. However, the reality is opposite. Even if Clio is the Muse of history, they are blind and they never control history for humankind. History, rather, is determined by culture, which has no awareness, just spread, and harm everyone.


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
hindsightThose who have only a superficial knowledge of a certain period tend to offer a just-so story to explain with hindsight why that outcome was inevitable.
Determinism is appealing because it implies that our world and our beliefs are a natural and inevitable product of history.
inexorablyThere is no proof that cultures that are beneficial to humans must inexorably succeed and spread.
conceivableIt is conceivable to imagine history going on for generations upon generations while bypassing the Scientific Revolution.

I like the idea that culture is a parasite. Even though empires, commerce, and universal religions direct history to unification, it is uncertain that what will be chosen from numerous options.

I’ve just met a person who believes capitalism strongly, and I was overwhelmed, drained, and exhausted. It seems they really didn’t notice how I was being cautious about capitalism at all, since their parasite were so powerful that it blinds him from everything!