【English/日本語】Read an English book📖英語の本を読もう📚Sapiens―chapter#17 Industrialization

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英語でSapiens を読もう📖#17


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 17.

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.17 The Wheels of Industry

🦧第17章 産業の推進力

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.


Raw materials are finite or infinite?
  • finite only in theory
  • use of energy and raw materials has mushroomed in the last few centuries
  • investments into scientific and technological research have invariably produced…
    • more efficient ways of exploiting existing resources
    • completely new types of energy and materials
Prior to the Industrial Revolution
  • burned wood to smelt iron, heat houses, and bake cakes
  • wind power to sail a ship and grind grain
  • people didn’t know hot to convert one type of energy into another
Human and energy
  • humans burn burn food and convert the released energy into the movement of muscles
  • a single source: plants
  • plants obtain energy from the sun by the process of photosynthesis
  • humans were fulled by solar energy that was captured by plants and converted into mascle power
Two main cycles
  • the growth cycles of plants
  • the changing cycles of solar energy

 🚧工事中 🚧

History of energy production
  • converting heat into motion
    • jumping pot lids were an annoyance
    • people failed to notice its potential
  • the invention of gunpowder
    • discovered in the 9th century, in China
    • used to produce fire bombs
    • only to have the pestle shoot out with force
    • 600 years passed between the invention of gunpowder and the development of effective artillery
  • born in British coal mines
    • woods were cut down to fuel
    • suffered from an increasing shortage of firewood
    • began burning coal as a substitute
    • coal were obstacles to access the lower strata of the mines
    • a deafening cacophony emanated from a steam engine
    • burn coal, boil water, and produce steam, and steam pushes a piston
    • the piston moves anything that is connected to it
  • Textile production
    • British entrepreneurs improved the efficiency of the steam engine, brought it out of the mineshafts, and connected it to looms and gins, breaking psychological barrier
    • produced ever-larger quantities of cheap textiles
  • Steam-powered locomotive
    • A British engineer connected a steam engine to a train of mine wagons full of coal in 1825
    • the first commercial railway line in 1830
    • tens of thousands km of railway traks in 1850

People became obsessed with the idea that machines and engines could be used to convert one type of energy into another. It is a matter of inventing the right machine.

  • 600 years
    • between the moment gunpowder was discovered and the moment Turkish cannon pulverised the walls of Constantinople
  • 40 years
    • between the moment Einstein determined that any kinds of mass could be converted into energy: E=mc² and the moment atom bombs obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki and nuclear power stations mushroomed all over the globe
The Career of Petroleum
  • Until just a century ago
    • known for thousand of years
    • used to waterproof roofs and lubricate axles
    • nobody thought it was useful
  • Today
    • fight a war over oil
The Career of Electricity
  • Two centuries ago
    • played no role in the economy
    • used for arcane scientific experiments and cheap magic tricks
  • Today
    • few of us understand how electricity work
    • even fewer can imagine life without it

 🚧工事中 🚧

Running out of energy?
  • clearly the world does not lack energy
  • all we lack is the knowledge necessary to harness and convert it to our needs
How much the sun dispenses?
  • it amounts to 3,766,800 exajoules of energy per year
  • plants
    • capture only about 3,000 of solar exajoules through the process of photosynthesis
  • human activities and industires
    • consume about 500 exajoules; just 9-min amount
Enormous sources of energy
  • nuclear energy
  • gravitational energy; the power of the ocean tides
The scarcity of raw materials
  • scientific breakthroughs enabled humans…
    • to invent completely new materials,
      • plastic
    • to discover preveously unknown natural materials
      • silicon
      • aluminium
  • in the beginning 19th century
    • discovered, but it was extremely difficult to separate from its ore in the 1820s
    • Emperor napoleon III commissioned aluminium cutlery for his most distinguished guests in the 1860s
  • at the end of 19th century
    • chemists discovered a way to extract immense amounts of cheap aluminium
    • people use cheap disposable aluminium foil to wrap their leftovers
Ammonia during WWI
  • Germany suffered severe shortages of row materials, saltpretre
  • it was replacable by ammonia, but ammonia was expensive to produce
  • a Jewish chemist, Fritz Haber, discovered a process for producing ammonia out of thin air in 1908
  • Germany would have been forced to surrender long before November 1918
  • Haber won a Nobel Prize in chemistry, not in peace

 🚧工事中 🚧

The explosion in agriculture
  • the Industrial Revolution was above all else the Second Agricultural Revolution
  • industrial production method
    • machines for undertaking mascle power tasks, such as tractors
    • artificial fertilisers
    • industrial insecticides
    • hormones and medications
    • refrigerators, ships, and aeroplanes for storing and transporting
  • elevated Sapiens to divine status whereas farm animals stopped being viewed as living creatures
Animals mass-production
  • animals bodies shaped in accordance with industrial needs
  • they pass their entire lives as cogs in a giant production line
  • the length and quality of their existance is determined by the profits and losses of business corporations
  • corporations have no intrinsic interest in the animals’ social and psychological needs
  • animals are much like machines that take in raw materials and produce a commodity
  • animals are really little different from machines, devoid of sensations and emotions
  • It is fuelled by indifference just like Atlantic slave trade
Evolutionary psychology
  • mammals and birds have a complex sensory and emotional makeup
  • evolutionary psychology maintains that the emotional and social needs of animals were essential for survival and reproduction
  • animals would suffers from being not fulfilled subjective needs as well as objective needs
  • it’s been known at least since the 1950s
Harry Harlow’s study
  • infant monky preferred resembled cloth monkey to metal radiated monkey
  • monkeys must have psychological needs and desires that go beyond their material requirements
  • the dubject monkey never fitted into monkey society, suffering from high levels of anxiety and aggression
  • this conclusion applies to other mammals as well as birds
the urban Industrial Revolution
  • Before
    • peasants comprised more than 90% of the population
  • After the second Agricultural Revolution
    • only 2% of the population makes a living from agriculture in US
    • the basis for the entire modern socio-economic order
      • the industrial animal husbandry
      • the mechanization of plant cultivation
    • without the industrialization of agriculture, the urban Industrial Revolution could never have taken place
      • more people were released from fieldwork
      • began pouring out an unprecedented avalanche of products
      • supply began to outstrip demand

 🚧工事中 🚧

Frugality and indulgence
  • most of history
    • people lived under conditions of scarcity
    • frugality was the watchword
    • selfish, decadent, and morally corrupt
    • only kings and nobels conspicuously flaunt their riches
  • Today
    • convince people that indulgence is good for you, whereas frugality is self-oppression
  • see the consumption as a positive
  • encourage people to treat themselves, spoil themselves, and even kill themselves slowly by overconsumption
  • manifacturerers deliberately design short-term goods
  • shopping has become a favorite pastime
  • consumer goods have become essential mediators
    • Christmas
    • even other holiday in US
Food market
  • before
    • lived in the awful shade of starvation
  • affluent world of today
    • obbesity is one of the leading health problems
    • spends more meny on diets
    • obesity is a double victory for consumerism
Consumerism and capitalism
  • how to square two ethics?
    • a division between the elites and the masses
    • a merger of two commandments
  • the rich
    • profits should not be wasted
    • take great care managing their assests, investment
    • commandment: ”Invest!”
  • the rest of us
    • go into debt buying cars and televisions they don’t really need
    • commandment: “Buy!”
The capitalist-consumerist ethic
  • most previous ethical system
    • paradise was promised only if people cultivated compassion and tolerance, overcame craving and anger, and restrained their selfish interests
    • too tough for most; nobody can live up to.
  • Today
    • most people successfully live upt to the capitalist-consumerist ideal.
    • pradise for the rich is promised when they remain greedy and make more monay
    • paradise for the masses is promised when they give free rein to their cravings and passions and buy more and more

 🚧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.


Economic growth requires energy and raw materials besides capitalism doctrine. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, humans relied on plants and the sun. People had been unable to notice the potential of energies such as steam engines’ mechanisms, petroleum, electricity, until the Industrial Revolution. Once admitting ignorance enabled people to invent the steam engine, they became obsessed with the idea that an invention enables them to convert one type of energy into another. The Industrial Revolution has been a revolution in energy conversion. It has continuously proven that the limit is only set by our ignorance. Scientific breakthroughs have been not only invented the mechanisms of energy but also discovered raw materials. It yielded an unprecedented combination of cheap and abundant energy and cheap and abundant raw materials. It brought an explosion in human productivity, and more people began engaging to supply products.

The modern capitalist economy constantly increases production. It means that someone must buy the products. Sapiens created a new ethic, the capitalist-consumerist religion which reins by two commandments: the rich shall more invest, while the masses shall more buy.



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

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: It is really realistic, as the author point out in the chapter that it is so easy to find a psychological message that encourage us to buy more. Especially when I was in the U.S. I found that much stronger atmosphere in society. People buy so many stuff. Their culture is connected a purchasing action, from the decoration of the homeparty to wearing their own school, team, club T-shirts. I don’t think this lead Sapiens to paradise. As the chapter 12 explores Siddhartha Gautama’s realization, cravings bring Sapiens suffering. Unfortunately, this ethic lead them to the opposite place. And, the last sentences of the chapter “How, though, do we know that we’ll really get paradise in return? We’ve seen it on television.” seems to imply that the author doesn’t agree with it. Yet, moreover, this religion might have a dangerous potential to take away an ability of seeing where we are from us.


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
sufficeThe modern economy grows thanks to our trust in the future and to the willingness of capitalists to reinvest their profits in production. Yet that does not suffice.
outstripFor the first time in human history, supply began to outstrip demand.
frugalityIt encourages people to treat themselves, spoil themselves, and even kill themselves slowly by overconsumption. Frugality is a disease to be cured.

Consumerism has worked very hard to convince people that indulgence is good for you, whereas frugality is self-oppression.


What did you think of the two commandments of the capitalist-consumerist ethic? I thought I had been successfully indoctrinated by this religion once in my 20s and half of my 30s. What brought me back from this religion was to become unemployed. I was really grateful that happens to me. Even though I try not to engage in this ethic, it is almost impossible to avoid completely. When I read this chapter, I thought I am definitely a member of the rest of us, who are in charge of consuming in society. Although more and more people try to increase their money via investment in order to join the group of the rich, the reality just tells us that the gap has just widened. However, considering the structure that we have seen in the book, this seems to be hardly changeable. What do you think?