Intellectual Weekend

(urgh didn’t bring my macbook home, need to type in English tim… sadly now I only know how to write in business English..)

Back in MIT, there was a compulsory Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Requirement for all undergraduates. I have always wanted to learn more about Philosophy / Psychology / Anthropology / Linguistics, etc..but ended up I only took one Linguistics course due to GPA concerns =_=”

Thanks to edX and Coursera, now I could take whatever classes I want! (so far I had only completed Gamification  and Designing Cities coincidentally both by UPenn)

Hope I could finish both of these by 31 Dec 2017!! (So far only finished reading ‘Option B’ this year =____=) 

(1) Justice – HarvardX by Michael Sandel 

Learning about Utilitarianism (Jeremy Bentham / JS Mill), Libertarianism (Robert Nozick), self-ownership, Locke’s property rights..


(2) Sapiens – A Brief History of Mankind 


  • cognitive revolution (70,000 years ago) -> agricultural revolution (10,000 years ago)->scientific revolution (500 years ago)
  • prehistoric humans were nothing outstanding compared to other animals. Many different species of ‘homo’ simultaneously existed on earth (unlike the ‘evolution’ photo we often see).
  • love how he reiterates the power of “imagination” for homo sapiens (i.e. human beings) throughout the book which enables us to overcome natural selection / DNA genetic changes and eventually dominated the world!! thanks to our unique language and ability to gossip (~150 people max). 
  • With an imaginative culture (nations, gods, human rights, companies, money, politics, myths, beliefs, all are indeed imaginary / unnatural/fictional in some sense!) , unlike other animals/species, we are able to cooperate in a large numbers flexibly.
  • DUAL reality (even today!): physical reality and imagined reality. 
  • so inspired by how he pointed out agricultural revolution is a bad thing to humankind. We were born to be hunter-gatherers, but now it has limited our option of food (i.e. not as nutritious vs. diverse range of food), more prone to risks (e.g. drought, diseases, etc) , and we no longer move around. We are domesticated by wheats..and lead to populations booms (even unremarkable genes could pass on since no more natural selections). Humans, cows, chickens, all suffer more. 
  • also very saddened by the fact that human beings have lead to the extinctions of many animals (e.g. once we arrived Australia, almost all large animals were killed and extincted!!) and how we have violently treated other animals even now…:< not sure what I could do about it. I won’t become a vegan, becoz it’s against nature ..still need a diverse diet. =_=
  • Human has a large brain compared to our body size. (That’s why our baby was so little becoz otherwise the skull will be too big for birth!! vs. other animals like horse / cats). Thanks to fire and cooked food, we have shorter intestine and i.e. larger portion can dedicate to the brain.

(reading this in simplified Chinese though. struggled a bit whether to read this in English/Chinese initially)


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