Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny

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In his bestselling The Moral Animal, Robert Wright applied the principles of evolutionary biology to the study of the human mind. Now Wright attempts something even more ambitious: explaining the direction of evolution and human history–and discerning where history will lead us next.

In Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, Wright asserts that, ever since the primordial ooze, life has followed a basic pattern. Organisms and human societies alike have grown more complex by mastering the challenges of internal cooperation. Wright's narrative ranges from fossilized bacteria to vampire bats, from stone-age villages to the World Trade Organization, uncovering such surprises as the benefits of barbarian hordes and the useful stability of feudalism. Here is history endowed with moral significance–a way of looking at our biological and cultural evolution that suggests, refreshingly, that human morality has improved over time, and that our instinct to discover meaning may itself serve a higher purpose. Insightful, witty, profound, Nonzero offers breathtaking implications for what we believe and how we adapt to technology's ongoing transformation of the world.


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About the author

Robert Wright is the author of Three Scientists and Their Gods and The Moral Animal, which was named by the New York Times Book Review as one of the twelve best books of the year and has been published in nine languages. A recipient of the National Magazine Award for Essay and Criticism, Wright has published in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Time, and Slate. He was previously a senior editor at The New Republic and The Sciences and now runs the Web site nonzero.org. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two daughters.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
Apr 20, 2001
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9780375727818
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Civilization
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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How did we get here?

David Fromkin provides arresting and dramatic answers to the questions we ask ourselves as we approach the new millennium. He maps and illuminates the paths by which humanity came to its current state, giving coherence and meaning to the main turning points along the way by relating them to a vision of things to come. His unconventional approach to narrating universal history is to focus on the relevant past and to single out the eight critical evolutions that brought the world from the Big Bang to the eve of the twenty-first century.

He describes how human beings survived by adapting to a world they had not yet begun to make their own, and how they created and developed organized society, religion, and warfare. He emphasizes the transformative forces of art and the written word, and the explosive effects of scientific discoveries. He traces the course of commerce, exploration, the growth of law, and the quest for freedom, and details how their convergence led to the world of today.

History's great movements and moments are here: the rise of the first empires in Mesopotamia; the exodus from Pharaoh's Egypt; the coming of Moses, Confucius, the Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad; the fall of the Roman Empire; the rise of China; Vasco da Gama finding the sea road to India that led to unification of the globe under European leadership. Connections are made: the invention of writing, of the alphabet, of the printing press, and of the computer lead to an information revolution that is shaping the world of tomorrow. The industrial, scientific, and technological revolutions are related to the credit revolution that lies behind today's world economy. The eighty-year world war of the twentieth century, which ended only on August 31, 1994, when the last Russian troops left German soil, points the way to a long but perhaps troubled peace in the twenty-first.

Where are we now? The Way of the World asserts that the human race has been borne on the waters of a great river--a river of scientific and technological innovation that has been flowing in the Western world for a thousand years, and that now surges forward more strongly than ever. This river highway, it says, has become the way of the world; and because the constitutional and open society that the United States champions is uniquely suited to it, America will be the lucky country of the centuries to come. Fromkin concludes by examining some of the choices that lie ahead for a world still constrained by its past and by human nature but endowed by science with new powers and possibilities. He pictures exciting prospects ahead--if the United States takes the lead, and can develop wisdom on a scale to match its good fortune.
New York Times Bestseller

A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

Official U.S. edition with full color illustrations throughout.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.

Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.

With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.

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