Fictional Reality

Yuval Noah Harari, from "Why Humans Run the World," TEDGlobalLondon, June 2015:

"We humans control the world because we live in a dual reality. All other animals live in an objective reality. Their reality consists of objective entities, like rivers and trees and lions and elephants. 

We humans, we also live in an objective reality. In our world, too, there are rivers and trees and lions and elephants. But over the centuries, we have constructed on top of this objective reality a second layer of fictional reality, a reality made of fictional entities, like nations, like gods, like money, like corporations. 

And what is amazing is that as history unfolded, this fictional reality became more and more powerful so that today, the most powerful forces in the world are these fictional entities. 

Today, the very survival of rivers and trees and lions and elephants depends on the decisions and wishes of fictional entities, like the United States, like Google, like the World Bank — entities that exist only in our own imagination."

Seventy thousand years ago, our human ancestors were insignificant animals, just minding their own business in a corner of Africa with all the other animals. But now, few would disagree that humans dominate planet Earth; we've spread to every continent, and our actions determine the fate of other animals (and possibly Earth itself).


See also: Harari, Y. N. (2015). Sapiens: A brief history of humankind. New York: Harper. (author, library)