Humility by Yuval Noah Harari Summary & Exercise [English -12]

Summary of The Essay Humility

Humility was written by Yuval Noah Harari, a well-known writer from Jerusalem. He demonstrates humility in this essay by dispelling humanity’s delusions of superiority and mastery. He claims that morality, art, spirituality, and creativity are universal human abilities imprinted in our DNA. In this article, the author demonstrates the virtue of humility, which may be defined as “an acknowledgement of the true boundaries of our techno-social knowledge and abilities,” by deconstructing humanity’s delusions of superiority and mastery. Humility, according to Harari, is a quality that most cultures lack. Most people believe they are at the centre of the world, and that their culture is the cornerstone of human history.

Greeks believe that history began with Homer, Sophocles, and Plato and that significant ideas and developments originated in Athens, Sparta, Alexandria, or Constantinople. Some Indians believe that long before Confucius or Plato, much alone Einstein and the Wright brothers, ancient sages in the Indian subcontinent invented aeroplanes and nuclear bombs.

The Jews believe that monotheism should be attributed to them and that they are a major group in the world, ranking among the top three faiths. However, there are only 15 million Jews, and there is no reason to suppose that they are more important than the Hindu faith, which has many more followers. Each group regards itself as the centre of the universe, as well as the inventor of the most significant ideals and achievements.

No organization, however, is truly unique; some variation of their philosophy and beliefs existed prior to them. The faiths that survived were the most aggressive, converting the greatest number of people to their beliefs. For example, the Jewish-claimed Biblical saying “love thy neighbour as oneself” had previously appeared in China.

Similarly, monotheism originated in Egypt and was not originally Jewish. Monotheism has resulted in worldwide disaster, and no one should be proud of having created it. Christianity forbade all faiths to save the Jewish religion a few decades after its formation, but many Jews were still persecuted, whereas Islam currently considers all history prior to Mohammed to be irrelevant.

According to Chinese nationalists, many remarkable notions originated in their culture. The Jews believe that they are God’s chosen people, and that gentiles do not rank as highly as them. While some sages have pushed for religious tolerance, historically, people who have contrary ideas have been persecuted. Ironically, most religions advise against this kind of self-centeredness.

About the Author

Yuval Noah Harari is a bestselling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, 21 Lessons for the Twenty-First Century, and Sapiens: A Graphic History. He is a co-founder of Sapienship, a multidisciplinary organization that advocates for global responsibility. Its purpose is to clarify the public debate, encourage the search for answers, and draw attention to the world’s most pressing issues. He is presently a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of History.

Harari exemplifies the virtue of humility in that he debunks humanity’s illusions of superiority and mastery. He claims morality, art, spirituality and creativity are universal human abilities embedded in our DNA.

Exercise: Question Answer of Humility

The Essay “Humility” by Yuval Noah Harari Exercise: Questions & Answers Class 12 English

Understanding the Text

Answer the following questions.

Describe the claim of the Chinese nationalists about human history.

➜ Chinese nationalists claim that history began with the Yellow Emperor and the Xia and Shang dynasties and that anything accomplished by Westerners, Muslims, or Indians is but a pale imitation of genuine Chinese achievements.

What do pious Muslims believe about human history?

➜ Pious Muslims believe that all history before the Prophet Muhammad is mostly meaningless and that all history following the Quran’s revelation revolves around the Muslim ummah.

What did the Aztecs firmly believe about the universe?

➜ The Aztecs firmly believed about the universe that without the annual sacrifices, the sun would not rise and the whole cosmos would collapse.

What, according to the essay, are universal human abilities?

➜ According to the essay, the universal human abilities are morality, art, spirituality and creativity.

How are the basic yoga postures derived from the shape of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet?

➜ The basic yoga postures are derived from the shape of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet as the yoga posture Trikonasanna imitates the form of the Hebrew letter ‘aleph,’ Tuladandasana imitates the letter ‘daled,’ and so on.

Reference to the Context

How do Hindu nationalists refute the Chinese claim that human history really began with the Yellow Emperor and the Xia and Shang dynasties? Who do you agree with, and why?

➜ Hindu nationalists refute the Chinese claim that human history really began with the Yellow Emperor and the Xia and Shang dynasties by claiming that ancient Indian sages developed planes and nuclear bombs long before Confucius, Plato, Einstein, and the Wright brothers.

I agree with the Hindu nationalists over the Chinese claim as Hinduism is found to be the oldest religion in the world according to various scientific as well as archaeological studies.

The author has dealt with a controversial debate on human history. Why do you think history has been a major contested issue in the present world?

➜ The author has addressed a contentious argument about human history. Because of egoism, I believe history has become a major source of contention in the modern world. The majority of people feel that they are the center of the universe and that their culture is superior than all others. They think that their civilization is the oldest and that everything descended or originated from it. History has become a major source of controversy in the modern world as a result of egoism. The author’s goal is to dispel humanity’s attitude of superiority and dominance.

The author claims, “Since it is more polite to criticize one’s own people than to criticize foreigners.” Do you agree to his claim? Give your reasons.

➜ In his article “Humility,” Harari says that it is more polite to criticize one’s own people than strangers. I agree with him since criticizing outsiders causes conflict. People are obsessed with their own history and civilisation. They dislike hearing someone of a different faith or organization criticize their own religion or culture. We accept what is said or published about our culture, religion, and civilization without doubt. What idiots believe that the universe’ survival is contingent on human sacrifice and the study of religious texts. Nobody knows how long this universe has been, and claiming that human sacrifice and religious teachings preserve the universe from destruction is egotism.

Humans may have landed on the moon thousands of years ago if ancient sages had built missiles and rockets. If we reject such things while being foreigners, we will cause a schism between two groups of people. If we want to improve ourselves, we must first acknowledge our culture’s defects.