Big Questions

Note: this page can currently be edited as a HackMD document.

One of the things we love about Dawn of Everything is that it raises "big questions", both in the book, and in us as we read and discuss.

This page collects the "big questions" we've come across.


The Right Questions are more important than our current Hypotheses about the answers.

Collected Big Questions

What drew you to read this book?

How much of competition is ingrained in the human brain, and how much is something we learned?

What social orders are possible with the humanity we have? What is possible? How to make it possible?

How are we going to put ritual in a play into our daily activities?

Are there healthy forms of hierarchy? And if there are such forms; what characterizes them that makes them healthy?

What is the future of artificial intelligence across the planet?

Questioning the questions that you ask.

Cooperation versus competition, and adaptation has been towards more cooperation as well as competition.

I was intrigued by the notion that of sort of the ascent of species from the horizon of early time, and then where I like to go with those things is, what does that? What are the implications of that perspective, or that understanding, on how I view my life right now, and what are the things that I can and can't influence or change, and what will I want to preserve?

Questions articulated by the authors at the end of Chapter 1

  • We will start by asking how did inequality become such an issue to begin with?
  • If we didn’t spend 95% of our evolutionary past in tiny bands of hunter-gatherers what were they doing all that time?
  • If agriculture and cities didn’t mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what did they imply?
  • What was really happening in those periods we usually see as marking the emergence of the state?
  • The answers are often unexpected and suggest that the course of human history may be less set in stone and more full of playful possibilities than we tend to assume.
  • This book is a quest to discover the right questions. If, “What is the origin of inequality?" is not the biggest question we should be asking about history, then what should it be?
  • Rousseau was correct that something was lost, he just had an idiosyncratic and false notion of what it was. How do we characterize it then? And how lost is it really? What does it imply about possibilities for social change today?