Fiction: Mighty Weapon of Men



As we already know, our senses are limited and cannot interpret reality. Therefore, our reality is always partial and, moreover, relative. Relative because we always think in comparison. There wouldn’t be a night if it weren’t for the day, hunger if it weren’t for satiety, the fragrant if it weren’t for the stink.

If reality is partial and relative, it is just a point of view. When the point of view is unanimously shared, we are usually talking about an objective reality like, for example, the river, the tree, the lion. When the point of view is hardly shared by everyone, we are usually talking about a subjective reality also known as social construction, idea, myth, fiction.

When a subjective reality is shared by almost everyone, it looks like an objective reality. Two good examples: God and money. Both are not objective realities but ideas considered real by the overwhelming majority of us humans. The more people believe in subjective reality, the less it looks like fiction and the more it looks like objective reality.

We are a social animal and subjective realities are extremely necessary for our organization in society. They are the fruit of our need combined with our imagination. No other animal on the planet has the imagination that we do:

It is difficult to respect the rights of others. We created the Law.

Life doesn’t always seem to make sense. we create God.

It is difficult to love your neighbor as yourself. We create the Religion.

Life is too short. We create Eternal Life (and Reincarnation).

It’s hard to have just one partner. We create the Marriage.

Shared myths facilitate cooperation. Two believers who have never seen each other can go through a period of suffering side by side with faith in God’s will. Two evangelicals who have never met can together protest abortion or gay marriage. Two Americans who have never seen each other can join forces in the war on behalf of their nation. Two employees of the same corporation who do not know each other are able to work for hours or months with the same purpose.

We live in a dual reality. On the one hand, objective reality, an exhaustible source. On the other hand, subjective reality, an inexhaustible source. Note that our subjective realities are now more powerful than objective realities and even the survival of rivers, trees, and lions depends on the grace bestowed by gods, nations, corporations, and money.


This is a reflection on the role of fiction in our society discussed in the chapter The Tree of Knowledge of the book Sapiens written by Yuval Noah Harari.

Written by Feitosa-Santana

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