The Meaning of Human Existence

The Meaning of Human Existence

Book - 2014
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In The Meaning of Human Existence, his most philosophical work to date, Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist Edward O. Wilson examines what makes human beings supremely different from all other species and 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.
Publisher: New York : Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2014
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780871401007
Branch Call Number: 128 Wi
Description: 207 pages ; 22 cm


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Mar 17, 2018

A clearly written, but very opinionated philosophy book by a scientist. He describes Dawkins as a science journalist, and stereotypes the sciences (he always uses the singular "science") and also stereotypes (what he calls) the humanities, about which he says some ridiculous things: that they take properties of human nature as "just is" (p.79), and that they are designed to exemplify very few instincts (p.186). That sort of foolishness ruins the plausibility of the essay. It gives a different point of view, and for that its valuable.

Apr 13, 2017

No, this isn't just another book about Darwinian evolution and protection of biodiversity. Every grade schooler knows how it happened—as best as we can describe it at present. What I found interesting is the author's insistence that we take the entirelty of evolution, not just from the split to Homo erectus, into account. We are the culmination of a process that began long before our earliest similar ancestors. We are a mess of conflict—reason and emotion, science and the humanities—and this is the way it should be. His ideas about extra-terrestrial life are interesting. I hope he is right, that man will always remain biological and human, for to tread to the other side is, as Wilson indicates, the end of our species. What shocked me was the revelation that nearly 50% of Americans believe in Creationism! Where did they go to school? LOL I guess they never learned about metaphor, either. While the book will not tell you much you didn't already know or haven't already read elsewhere, the author has a unique slant on things and presents a fine summary.

Aug 03, 2016

This book is listed on the fourteenth annual Freshman Reading Round-Up at the Univ. of Texas. Faculty members select books for summer reading and lead group discussions the day before classes begin. I've found several good books to read from the annual list.

Jun 23, 2015

Intelligent, if politically incorrect, analysis.

Mar 01, 2015

From the perspective of its title, E. O. Wilson’s latest book was a letdown for me. However, from a biological perspective, it’s a fascinating read. Wilson drops a bombshell by rejecting the inclusive fitness theory as an evolutionary model for social behavioral traits. His description of the controversy provides a juicy story on the politics of science. Other strong points: an interesting synopsis of the evolution of the human mind, plus some informed speculations on the social behavior of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Disappointing aspects: Wilson is (rightly) against tampering with the human genome to “improve” human nature, but instead of using his scientific expertise to elaborate, he spends pages chastising religion and making condescending statements on the value of the humanities. In his mind, scientists are the true saviors of the world and scientists who fail to contribute to a more realistic world view are “intellectual dwarves content to stay within the narrow specialities for which they were trained”. Wilson is obviously not content to stay within his expertise. Instead of name-dropping theologians, Wilson might recognize his own messianic delusion by reading Niebuhr’s "Irony of American History". He might also learn how not to completely misinterpret Kierkegaard.

magictouch Dec 31, 2014

There is never an easy answer for the meaning of human existence either in the domain of religion or science...but with the insights of Edward O. Wilson, one may be given a few clues to approach this puzzling philosophical question and his standpoint of multilevel selection in the theory of inclusive fitness. Thought-provoking.


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