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About Edward O. Wilson
Regarded as one of the world’s preeminent biologists and naturalists, Edward O. Wilson grew up in south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, where he spent his boyhood exploring the region’s forests and swamps, collecting snakes, butterflies, and ants—the latter to become his lifelong specialty. The author of more than twenty books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Ants" and "The Naturalist" as well as his first novel "Anthill," Wilson, a professor at Harvard, makes his home in Lexington, Massachusetts.
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New York Times Bestseller
Finalist for the National Book Award (Nonfiction)
How did humanity originate and why does a species like ours exist on this planet? Do we have a special place, even a destiny in the universe? Where are we going, and perhaps, the most difficult question of all, "Why?"
In 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.
New York Times Bestseller and Notable Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year (Nonfiction)
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence (Nonfiction)
From the most celebrated heir to Darwin comes a groundbreaking book on evolution, the summa work of Edward O. Wilson's legendary career.
Sparking vigorous debate in the sciences, The Social Conquest of Earth upends “the famous theory that evolution naturally encourages creatures to put family first” (Discover). Refashioning the story of human evolution, Wilson draws on his remarkable knowledge of biology and social behavior to demonstrate that group selection, not kin selection, is the premier driving force of human evolution. In a work that James D. Watson calls “a monumental exploration of the biological origins of the human condition,” Wilson explains how our innate drive to belong to a group is both a “great blessing and a terrible curse” (Smithsonian). Demonstrating that the sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts are fundamentally biological in nature, the renowned Harvard University biologist presents us with the clearest explanation ever produced as to the origin of the human condition and why it resulted in our domination of the Earth’s biosphere.
“Brimming with ideas. . . . The Origins of Creativity approach[es] creativity scientifically but sensitively, feeling its roots without pulling them out.”—Economist
In a stirring exploration of human nature recalling his foundational work Consilience, Edward O. Wilson offers a “luminous” (Kirkus Reviews) reflection on the humanities and their integral relationship to science. Both endeavors, Wilson argues, have their roots in human creativity—the defining trait of our species. By studying fields as diverse as paleontology, evolution, and neurobiology, Wilson demonstrates that creative expression began not 10,000 years ago, as we have long assumed, but more than 100,000 years ago in the Paleolithic Age. A provocative investigation into what it means to be human, The Origins of Creativity reveals how the humanities have played an unexamined role in defining our species. With the eloquence, optimism, and pioneering inquiry we have come to expect from our leading biologist, Wilson proposes a transformational “Third Enlightenment” in which the blending of science and humanities will enable a deeper understanding of our human condition, and how it ultimately originated.
Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist Edward O. Wilson imparts the wisdom of his storied career to the next generation.
Edward O. Wilson has distilled sixty years of teaching into a book for students, young and old. Reflecting on his coming-of-age in the South as a Boy Scout and a lover of ants and butterflies, Wilson threads these twenty-one letters, each richly illustrated, with autobiographical anecdotes that illuminate his career—both his successes and his failures—and his motivations for becoming a biologist. At a time in human history when our survival is more than ever linked to our understanding of science, Wilson insists that success in the sciences does not depend on mathematical skill, but rather a passion for finding a problem and solving it. From the collapse of stars to the exploration of rain forests and the oceans’ depths, Wilson instills a love of the innate creativity of science and a respect for the human being’s modest place in the planet’s ecosystem in his readers.
“The book bursts to life with [Wilson’s] observations of nature, from fire ants and social spiders to starlings.”—Aarathi Prasad, New York Times Book Review
An “endlessly fascinating” (Michael Ruse) work of scientific thought and synthesis, Genesis is Edward O. Wilson’s twenty-first-century statement on Darwinian evolution. Asserting that religious creeds and philosophical questions can be reduced to purely genetic and evolutionary components, and that the human body and mind have a physical base obedient to the laws of physics and chemistry, Wilson demonstrates that the only way for us to fully understand human behavior is to study the evolutionary histories of nonhuman species. At least seventeen of these species—among them the African naked mole rat and the sponge-dwelling shrimp—have been found to have advanced societies based on altruism and cooperation. Braiding twenty-first- century scientific theory with the lyrical biological and humanistic observations for which Wilson is beloved, Genesis is “a magisterial history of social evolution, from clouds of midges or sparrows to the grotesqueries of ant colonies” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
"An audacious and concrete proposal…Half-Earth completes the 86-year-old Wilson’s valedictory trilogy on the human animal and our place on the planet." —Jedediah Purdy, New Republic
In his most urgent book to date, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and world-renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson states that in order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet. In this "visionary blueprint for saving the planet" (Stephen Greenblatt), Half-Earth argues that the situation facing us is too large to be solved piecemeal and proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: dedicate fully half the surface of the Earth to nature. Identifying actual regions of the planet that can still be reclaimed—such as the California redwood forest, the Amazon River basin, and grasslands of the Serengeti, among others—Wilson puts aside the prevailing pessimism of our times and "speaks with a humane eloquence which calls to us all" (Oliver Sacks).
Edward O. Wilson recalls his lifetime with ants, from his first boyhood encounters in the woods of Alabama to perilous journeys into the Brazilian rainforest.
“Ants are the most warlike of all animals, with colony pitted against colony,” writes E.O. Wilson, one of the world’s most beloved scientists, “their clashes dwarf Waterloo and Gettysburg.” In Tales from the Ant World, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Wilson takes us on a myrmecological tour to such far-flung destinations as Mozambique and New Guinea, the Gulf of Mexico’s Dauphin Island and even his parent’s overgrown backyard, thrillingly relating his nine-decade-long scientific obsession with over 15,000 ant species.
Animating his scientific observations with illuminating personal stories, Wilson hones in on twenty-five ant species to explain how these genetically superior creatures talk, smell, and taste, and more significantly, how they fight to determine who is dominant. Wryly observing that “males are little more than flying sperm missiles” or that ants send their “little old ladies into battle,” Wilson eloquently relays his brushes with fire, army, and leafcutter ants, as well as more exotic species. Among them are the very rare Matabele, Africa’s fiercest warrior ants, whose female hunters can carry up to fifteen termites in their jaw (and, as Wilson reports from personal experience, have an incredibly painful stinger); Costa Rica’s Basiceros, the slowest of all ants; and New Caledonia’s Bull Ants, the most endangered of them all, which Wilson discovered in 2011 after over twenty years of presumed extinction.
Richly illustrated throughout with depictions of ant species by Kristen Orr, as well as photos from Wilsons’ expeditions throughout the world, Tales from the Ant World is a fascinating, if not occasionally hair-raising, personal account by one of our greatest scientists and a necessary volume for any lover of the natural world.
One of our greatest living scientists--and the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for On Human Nature and The Ants--gives us a work of visionary importance that may be the crowning achievement of his career. In Consilience (a word that originally meant "jumping together"), Edward O. Wilson renews the Enlightenment's search for a unified theory of knowledge in disciplines that range from physics to biology, the social sciences and the humanities.
Using the natural sciences as his model, Wilson forges dramatic links between fields. He explores the chemistry of the mind and the genetic bases of culture. He postulates the biological principles underlying works of art from cave-drawings to Lolita. Presenting the latest findings in prose of wonderful clarity and oratorical eloquence, and synthesizing it into a dazzling whole, Consilience is science in the path-clearing traditions of Newton, Einstein, and Richard Feynman.
The two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist delivers "an astonishing literary achievement" (Anthony Gottlieb, The Economist).
Winner of the 2010 Heartland Prize, Anthill follows the thrilling adventures of a modern-day Huck Finn, enthralled with the "strange, beautiful, and elegant" world of his native Nokobee County. But as developers begin to threaten the endangered marshlands around which he lives, the book’s hero decides to take decisive action. Edward O. Wilson—the world’s greatest living biologist—elegantly balances glimpses of science with the gripping saga of a boy determined to save the world from its most savage ecological predator: man himself.