A ‘HISTORY OF THE FUTURE’ IN THE 21ST CENTURY: YUVAL NOAH HARARI
Anton A. van Niekerk, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director: Centre for Applied Ethics, Stellenbosch University
Saturday 14 January
COURSE FEES R220
Yuval Noah Harari has proved himself to be one of the most prominent and accessible historians of the twenty-first century. He has not only popularised a so-called dialectic with the past, but also encouraged speculation about the history of the future. This double lecture critically engages with Harari’s revolutionary projections in an attempt to evaluate the lessons and concerns that one ought to take away from his work. More specifically, the ever-increasing achievements in the worlds of science and technology need to be balanced by humility. Homo sapiens is in the unprecedented position to shape its own evolution – thanks to what is often termed ‘the fourth industrial revolution’ – and speedily move toward the emergence of a new kind of being. The very nature of being in such an unparalleled situation is that there now exists an unprecedented discontinuity between the past and present. With this in mind, is it even possible to make valid predictions about what the future holds in the manner that Harari does? Is it responsible of us to take on this task at all? These are some of the questions that this lecture will grapple with as an impetus for suggesting provisional guidelines for humanity to follow when we inevitably take the future into our own hands.