【English/日本語】Read an English book📖英語の本を読もう📚Sapiens―chapter#19 Happiness

🇺🇸English✕ 上級日本語🇯🇵

英語でSapiens を読もう📖#19


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 19.

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.19 And They Lived Happily Ever After

第19章 文明は人間を幸福にしたのか

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 change for the last 500 years
  • a breathtaking series of revolutions
  • unification as a single ecological and historical sphere
  • Sapiens enjoys wealth
  • Sapiens gained superhuman powers and practically limitless energy.
  • the social order, politics, daily life, and human psychology have been completely transformed
  • Are Sapiens happy?
  • Did wealth Sapiens accumulated over the last five centuries translate into a new-found contentment?
  • Did the discovery of inexhaustible energy resources open inexhaustible stores of bliss?
  • What was the point of developing agriculure, cities, writing, coinage, empires, science, and industry?
  • What factors influence Sapiens’ happiness?
The real source of happiness
  • nationalists: political self-determination
  • communistst: dictatorship of the proletariat
  • capitalists: free market, economic growth, self-reliant
  • human capabilities should alleviate miseries, fulfill aspirations, and contribute happiness
The propensity for misusing power
  • the Agricultural Revolution: making Sapiens’ life harsher, letting them exposed to disease and exploitation
  • the spread of European empire: destroying Africans, Native Americans, and aboriginal Australians lives.
Reverse correlation
  • the relationship between human capabilities and happiness; the more clout people have, the less happy they will be
  • the power human gained created a cold mechanistic world ill-suited to their real needs
  • the transition both to agriculture and to industry condemned Sapiens to living unatural lives, that cannot give full expression to our inherent inclinations and instincts, therefore cannot satisfy their deepest yearnings
Does Progress contribute to happiness?
  • child mortality decreased by modern medicine
    • only a twentieth-century phenomenon
  • the steep drop in violence
  • the virtual disappearance of international wars
    • only after 1945
    • largely thanks to the new threat of nuclear annihilation
  • the near elimination of large-scale famines
    • Mass famines happened during Communist Chinas Great Leap Forward of 1958-1961
By whom viewpoint do you judge it?
  • tempting: a twenty-first-century middle-class Westerner
  • must not forget: a nineteenth-century Welsh coal miner, Chinese opium addict, or Tasmanian Aborigine
  • a viewpoint of the planet
  • a view point of other animals, which have been subjected to a regime of industrial exploitation

 🚧工事中 🚧

Nature of happiness
  • material factors
    • money
  • social factors
    • family
    • community
  • ethical factors
    • virtue
  • spiritual factors
    • pleasure
    • contentment
  • physical factors
    • genetics
Unhappy factors
  • alienation
    • contentment in community
  • meaninglessness
    • religion
    • a bond with nature
What really makes people happy
  • Difinition
    • happiness is ‘subjective well-being’
    • feel inside one’s self
    • a sense of immediate pleasuse
    • a sense of long term contentment
  • Measurement
    • give people questionnaires to fill out and tally the results
    • to grade on a scale of zero to ten
    • then, add up all the answers and calculate the subjects’ general level of subject well-being
  • For example
    • ‘I feel pleased with the way I am’
    • ‘I feel that life is very rewarding’
    • ‘I am optimistic about the future’
    • ‘Life is good’
Empirical findings
  • wealth has positive correlation only up to a point
  • democracies makes more people happier than dictatorships
  • being married makes people happier than being single, divorcees, or widowers
  • ➜historians argure that the democratization process of the last few decades contributed to the happiness, whereas the growing rates of divorce indicate an opposite trend
  • Positive
    • Family and community more than money and health
    • marriage
    • freedome, makes harder to make commitments
  • Negative
    • ⭕a source of long-term distress
    • chronic illness without constant deterioration
Subjective expectation
  • expectations ballon and shrink
  • prophets, poets, philosophers: “what you already have is far more important than getting more of what you want”
  • expectation of ease and pleasure have increased
  • intolerance of inconvenience and discomfort have increased
  • it is difficult to imagine the past without pasting own expectations
  • ➜If happiness depends on subjective expectations, it is much harder for historians to investigate if modernity makes people happier
Two pillars to deplete contentment
  • Two unwittingly providers
    • mass media
    • the advertising industry
  • What they provide?
    • provide too much measurement to compare others
    • the movie stars, athletes, and supermodels
  • What they cause?
    • let people measure themselves against gorgeous people
    • let people foment discontent by exposere to unrealistic standard

 🚧工事中 🚧

social science and biology
  • socio-economic factors: external paramenters
    • wealth; winning the lottery, buying a house,
    • social relations; getting a promotion
    • political freedome
  • biochemical and genetic factors
    • serotonin
    • dopamine
    • oxytocin
  • how these two categories interact?
    • socio-economic events only bring people pleasant sensations
What does evolution need?
  • internal biochemical system seem to be programmed to keep happiness levels relatively constant
  • evolution has moulded Sapiens to be neither too miserable nor too happy
  • happiness and misery play a role only for encouraging or discouraging survival and reproduction;
    • pleasant feelings as rewards to spread their genes by having sex
    • orgasms quickly subside in oder not to let them die of hunger
  • it enables us to enjoy a momentary rush of pleasant sensations, but these subside and give place to unpleasant sensations
Happiness-conditioning system
  • System
    • as air-conditioning systems keep the temprature constant
  • Individual difference
    • the system differ from person to person
      • a gloomy biochemistry between 3 and 7; system is not built for exhilaration
      • a cheerful biochemistry, people who remain relatively joyful, more attractive: serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin bring about happiness
  • Psychological and sociological factors
    • work let the emotional boundaries upper or lower
  • ➜this lets historians thinks that history can be of minor importance since it is a matter of serotonin’s secretion to let people be a certain level of happiness and doesn’t matter what kind of event causes it.
How about collective events?
  • collective events don’t bring a difference
    • French Revolution
    • political, social, ideological, and economic upheavals
  • what was the point’s of them then?
    • it is just tricks that their biochemistry brings about
Better off manipulating biochemistry?
  • Prozac raises serotonin levels, which lift people out of their depression
  • ‘Happiness Begins Within’ not any eternal factors
  • Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World
    • each day, each person takes a dose of ‘soma,’ a synthetic drug which makes people happy without harming their productivity and efficiency

 🚧工事中 🚧

Biological assumption
  • happyness equals pleasure
  • biochemistry limits the volume and duration
    • evolution
    • happiness air-conditioning system
  • manipulating can only make it happen a high level of happiness over extended period of time
Daniel Kahneman’s study
  • asked people to recount a typical work day, going through it episode by episode and evaluating how much they enjoyed or disliked each moment
  • happiness is not the surplus of pleasant over unpleasant moments
  • bringing up a child is both more dislikable moments, yet the chief source of happiness
  • happiness consists in seeing one’s life in its entirety as meaningful and worthwhile
The cognitive and ethical components
  • values make all the difference
  • “A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying even in the midst of hardship” by Nietzsche
  • the meaning ascribed to people’s experiences varies widely whereas pleasure and pains be perceived the same way beyond cultures and eras
  • ➜if so, happiness doesn not necessarily favor modernity
Does human life have meaning?
  • No
    • humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose
    • any meaning that people ascribe to their lives is just a delusion
  • Yes : collective delusions
    • medieval people may well have viewed their lives far more meaningful and worthwhile since they believed the promise of everlasting bliss
    • modern secular people can expect nothing but complete and meaningless oblivion
    • sicentist: finds their life meaningful because they increases the store of human knowledge
    • nationalist: finds their life meaning ful because they fight to defend their homeland
    • capitalist: finds their life meaningful in building a new company
What is happiness
  • it is self-delusions
  • it is synchronising one’s personal delusions of meaning with the prevailing collective delusions
  • happiness is in convistion

 🚧工事中 🚧

How can one become happier?
  • subjective feeling: ask them how they feel
    • feeling of pleasant sensations
      • to re-engineer biochemical system
    • feeling that life is meaningful
      • to delude oneself more effectively
  • cause: Liberalism
    • sanctifies the subjective feelings of individuals
    • the supreme source of authority
    • all are determined by what each individual feels
Liberalism and most religions
  • Liberalism: people are prone to believe…
    • happiness is a subjective feeling
    • individual best knows whether one is happy or miserable
  • Most religions:
    • there are objective yardsticks gor goodness and beauty, and how things ought to be
    • suspicious of the feelings and preferences of the ordinary person; the average person is ignorant of one’s true self
    • the inscription of the temple of Apollo at delphi, ‘Know thyself!’
    • Christianity; umankind is sinful by nature and easily seduced by Satan
    • majority of people are in the same situation as heroin addicts
    • Selfish gene theory; natural selection(DNA) makes people choose what is good for the reproduction of their genes
    • uses fleeting pleasures to tempt people and place them in its power
  • questioning of happiness
  • biological approach; happiness results from processes occurring within one’s body not but from events
  • people identify happiness with pleasant feelings, suffering with unpleasant feelings, ascribe immense importance to what they feel, then try to get pleasant feelings
  • feelings are no more than fleeting vibrations like the ocean waves; if you want it, you have to chase them constantly.
  • suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings
  • suffering causes a constant state of tension, restlessness, and dissatisfaction
  • people are liberated from suffering when they understand the impermanent nature of the feelings, and stop craving them
  • happiness is independent of inner feelings too
  • happiness is to know the truth about yourself
  •  🚧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.


Is the fundamental shift in the currents of history, making Sapiens happier? or more miserable? What is the real source of happiness? The happiness study measures it by asking them to fill out questionnaires. Happiness depends on the correlation between objective conditions and subjective expectations. Therefore, the media, freedom, or medical breakthroughs, that modernity brought Sapiens, can cause discontent rather than happiness.

Evolution only needs a momentary rush of pleasant sensations, that the biochemical system produces such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, for survival and reproduction. Therefore, it subsides sooner or later, as if air-conditioning system. It means which era one lives in doesn’t much matter their happiness.

Happiness is determined by valuing how meaningful one’s life is. What is meaningful varies depending on culture and religion, etc. It could mean happiness is synchronizing one’s personal delusion of meaning with the prevailing collective delusions.

Although liberalism sanctifies the subjective feelings of individuals, other religions view the capability to diagnose one’s happiness differently. Some religions say happiness does not depend on external conditions, Buddhism says happiness is even independent of one’s inner feelings and is to know better one’s self.





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: I don’t want to pursue a fleeting vibration and experience disappointment when it disappears. I’d rather prefer to be stable and constant. Rather than being desperate of catching a pleasure moment, I’d like to make the average level of my happiness-conditioning system gets higher. This way of thinking helps me really well not to crave external materials. And, even that attempt itself makes me content these days since the world seems to be full of discontent due to cravings.


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
alleviateSince humans generally use their capabilities to alleviate miseries and fulfill aspirations, it follows that we must be happier than our medieval ancestors, and they must have been happier than Stone Age hunter-gatherers.
cloutGiven the proven human propensity for misusing power, it seems naïve to believe that the more clout people have, the happier they will be.
ill-suitedas humankind gained more and more power, it created a cold mechanistic world ill-suited to our real needs.
condemnThe transition first to agriculture and then to the industry has condemned us to live unnatural lives that cannot give full expression to our inherent inclinations and instincts, and therefore cannot satisfy our deepest yearnings.
blightMass famines continued to blight much of humanity up to the middle of the twentieth century.

The first English book I’ve tried reading in my life is The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. In this book, Weiner discusses happiness in terms of pleasure sensation and contentment. Through traveling to ten countries, the author tries to figure out what is happiness for people in each country. Appling this chapter’s insight, I understand that the standard of happiness in each country represents their culture as a reflection of which country’s people more value the meaning of life or pleasure sensations in happiness. I agree with Harari’s point that life’s meanings for each individual stand on their collective cultural values. Thereby, even if the perception of happiness varies by individual, still we find different tendencies of the definition of happiness in different countries. What do you think is your country’s general happiness?

私が人生で最初に読んだ英語の本は、EricWeinert著のTheGeography ofBlissです。この本で作者は幸福を快感と満足という観点から論じています。10カ国を旅しながら、各国の人々の幸せとは何かを考察しているのです。この19章を読んだ上で、改めて幸福の国による違いについて考えてみると、国ごとの幸福という価値観はまさにそれぞれの国の文化を反映しているということがよく理解できます。人生の意義を重視するのか、または喜びを重視するのか、というのは結局のところ文化の反映というわけです。そして、個人の人生の意義がその人々の集合的な文化的価値観に基づいているというハラリの主張にはとても納得でした。なので、幸福の認識が個人によって異なる場合でも、国によって幸福の定義にはそれぞれの傾向が見られることになるというのも腑に落ちます。あなたの国では幸福は一般的にどんなものだと考えられているでしょう?