Is there a difference between “sex” and “gender”? What is it? What is the “sex vs. gender” debate? Sex is determined by a person’s genes, whereas gender is determined by whether you fit society’s mold of “man” or “woman.” Although related to sex, gender isn’t determined by your genes. We’ll cover the sex vs. gender debate and why this distinction has been so hard to grasp throughout history.
How did Christopher Columbus’s voyages to the new world revolutionize the world? How did it contribute to the rise of capitalism and our attitude toward our own ignorance? We’ll cover how Christopher Columbus’s first voyage and “discovery” of America forced people to confront their own ignorance. Then, we’ll look at how it spawned the marriage of capitalism and imperialism, forces that have defined our modern world.
How did our current global empire form? What factors unified disparate cultures, and how were money and empires involved? We’ll cover how the monetary order and imperialism, though they came with many disadvantages, shaped our world into the global empire that it is today. Money and empire were ultimately unifying forces.
What were the social impacts of the Industrial Revolution? What effects of the Industrial Revolution remain in our society today? We’ll cover the Industrial Revolution and its consequences: artificial time, the rise of the state and market, and relative peace. We’ll also look at how the Industrial Revolution gave rise to the idea of individualism.
In Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari uses concepts from physics, chemistry, biology, and history to tell the story of us, Homo sapiens, and the history of human evolution. The history of early human evolution is punctuated by advances in language and technology, and the evolution has been both biological and social. Some social advantages started out as biological disadvantages. We’ll look at each revolution and how it dramatically redirected the course of human history.
The future of our species may be relatively short, not because we cause ourselves to go extinct, but because we become an entirely new species. This is the future of humanity. We’ll cover the various scenarios of intelligent (man-made) design replacing natural selection: biological engineering, cyborg engineering, and inorganic life engineering. Then we’ll discuss the ethical problems that we face today, and we’ll face even more urgently in the future, as the future of humanity is increasingly dependent on the expert few.
What is the history of racism in America? Where did it start? The history of racism in America starts with the European sugar plantations there. Europeans didn’t want to pay for labor since this would have made the sugar too expensive to buy back on the continent, and, by a historical accident, they went to Africa for their unpaid labor. We’ll look at the early history of racism in America, from the first sugar plantations to discrimination in the 1950s.
Immortality is a tempting vision. Can humans live forever? If not now, will humans ever be able to live forever? And what new challenges could immortality present us with? We’ll cover the science moving humans closer to immortality and the potential problems of being able to live forever.
We tend to think that “imperialism” is a bad word, but were there any benefits of imperialism? What are the legacies of imperialism today? The benefits of imperialism included the shrinking of the world and the dissolution of cultural divides. Among the many tragedies of European empires, the Age of Imperialism also connected disparate nations and cultures. We’ll cover the surprising benefits of imperialism and how they’ve shaped our world today.
What can the science of happiness tell us about how to be happier? What can it tell us about our happiness compared to the happiness of our ancestors? Are we getting happier over time? Or unhappier? We’ll cover recent research on the science of happiness and look at how researchers determine how our happiness compares to that of our ancestors.