The Meaning of Human Existence
DescriptionIn The Meaning of Human Existence, his most philosophical work to date, Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist Edward O. Wilson grapples with these and other existential questions, examining what makes human beings supremely different from all other species. Searching for meaning in what Nietzsche once called the rainbow colors around the outer edges of knowledge and imagination, Wilson takes his readers on a journey, in the process bridging science and philosophy to create a twenty-first-century treatise on human existence--from our earliest inception to a provocative look at what the future of mankind portends.
Continuing his groundbreaking examination of our Anthropocene Epoch, which he began with The Social Conquest of Earth, described by the New York Times as a sweeping account of the human rise to domination of the biosphere, here Wilson posits that we, as a species, now know enough about the universe and ourselves that we can begin to approach questions about our place in the cosmos and the meaning of intelligent life in a systematic, indeed, in a testable way.
Once criticized for a purely mechanistic view of human life and an overreliance on genetic predetermination, Wilson presents in The Meaning of Human Existence his most expansive and advanced theories on the sovereignty of human life, recognizing that, even though the human and the spider evolved similarly, the poet's sonnet is wholly different from the spider's web. Whether attempting to explicate The Riddle of the Human Species, Free Will, or Religion; warning of The Collapse of Biodiversity; or even creating a plausible Portrait of E.T., Wilson does indeed believe that humanity holds a special position in the known universe.
The human epoch that began in biological evolution and passed into pre-, then recorded, history is now more than ever before in our hands. Yet alarmed that we are about to abandon natural selection by redesigning biology and human nature as we wish them, Wilson soberly concludes that advances in science and technology bring us our greatest moral dilemma since God stayed the hand of Abraham.
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About the Author
Edward O. Wilson is Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. Arguably the most important evolutionary biologist of his time, he has made seminal contributions to the study of evolution and ecology, created the field of sociobiology, and was one of the earliest voices to speak out about biodiversity loss.Wilson is the author of two Pulitzer Prize winning books, On Human Nature and The Ants. He is also the author of many groundbreaking works, including Sociobiology, The Diversity of Life, The Future of Life, Consilience, Naturalist and In Search of Nature.
Wilson is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, and is an active author of media articles and editorials. He was mentioned in the Economist as "one of the world's most distinguished scientists."
[A] tough-minded little primer-cum-manifesto... Compact and readable.--Dan Cryer
There can be few better guides through our species' past journey and potential for the future... A provocative and beautifully written collection of essays.--Tim Lenton
No biologist has been more persistent or eloquent in correcting our misapprehensions about human origins than Edward O. Wilson... We should be grateful that Wilson, so late in his illustrious career, still appeals to reason and imagination in hopes of enlightening us about our nature and inspiring us to change our destructive ways.--Scott Russell Sanders
Wilson asks: Does humanity have a special place in the universe? Where are we going, and why? He answers by telling science's latest creation stories, and presenting a vision of the future both inspiring and plausible, not an easy feat to pull off... Wilson is both a wild-eyed optimist and a hard-nosed realist. What more can we ask of a prophet?--John Horgan
A valedictory work... What a lively writer Mr. Wilson can be. This two time winner of the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction stands above the crowd of biology writers the way John le Carré stands above spy writers. He's wise, learned, wicked, vivid, oracular.--Dwight Garner