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Hunter vs Farmer Mindset

Written by Zuno Arashi Read

Are you familiar with the hunter vs farmer hypothesis? The idea is that for most of our existence, humans lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers who roamed across vast terrains in search of food. Since there was rarely a steady supply of food in any one area, our prehistoric ancestors were always on the move.

Hunter vs Farmer Mindset.

Humans lived like this for centuries upon centuries. Through the passage of time, they continued evolving to be adventurous and flexible, drawing them towards excitement, variety, and novelty. Of course, this did not come without its drawbacks. The curious nature of hunter-gatherers meant that they seldom stuck to one thing for long.

But back then, those who carried these traits had the upper hand. It is not hard to see why, considering how their lives were constantly changing. Hunter-gatherers had to embark into unfamiliar territory the moment surrounding conditions weren’t conducive anymore.

And when they ventured from place to place, they never knew what kind of food they were going to come across. As such, their diet had to be diverse. If they relied only on certain berries or grains for nourishment, they would have simply died out when those particular foodstuffs were not available to them.

However, when the agricultural revolution went into full swing, what were once favorable qualities quickly turned into disadvantages. As farmers, humans no longer had to adapt to ever-shifting environments. Instead, they settled permanently in an area, dedicating their entire lives to one single endeavor—crop cultivation.

Sadly, growing crops was no easy task. Farmers spent most of their time tending their crops just to ensure a successful harvest. They had to plow the fields, sow seeds during the right seasons, fight off encroaching weeds and pests, and so on.

This back-breaking labor bound farmers to a rigid way of life; one which forced them to rise each day with the sun and retire to bed exhausted as it set, toiling the lands till no end.

Faced with this unprecedented change in lifestyle, individuals who were geared with the hunter-gatherer mindset were naturally replaced by those who not only enjoyed repetition but were consistent in nature—traits of a farmer mindset.

This gradual transition allowed farmers to flourish as they continued to build up farming communities over generations. In time, farmers lost the spirit of adventure of their ancestors, and they no longer wondered about strange lands that lay beyond the fringes of their settlements. All that mattered to them was their fields, and whether they were well managed. Because to them, everything was safe as long as they stayed within the boundaries of their communities.

As you can tell, the hunter vs farmer hypothesis parallels our theory of Explorers and Builders. When compared side by side, one can see the similarities between a hunter and an Explorer, as well the similarities between a farmer and a Builder. This proves that such patterns in human behavior exist not only in theory, but are embedded in the fabric of humanity since the very beginning.

If you are interested in topics such as the Hunter vs Farmer topic you've just read, we highly recommend Yuval Noah Harari's award-winning book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. His book not only talks about the history of Homo Sapiens, but provides interesting theories on how and why we came to be who we are today.

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