2014 National Book Award Finalist, Nonfiction

EDWARD O. WILSON

The Meaning of Human Existence Edward O. WilsonThe Meaning of Human Existence

Liveright Publishing Corporation/ W.W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 978-0871401007


Citation

The Meaning of Human Existence addresses the most pressing issues of the 21st century, as it gently suggests ways we might move forward without destroying ourselves and the planet. Whether contemplating how to preserve biodiversity, the potential human encounter with extraterrestrials, or the existential problems posed by religious and political fanaticism, Wilson’s self-deprecating tone disguises a piercing, at times shocking argument that will spark productive dialogue among scientists and non-scientists, experts, and general readers alike.


ABOUT THE BOOK

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, 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—from our earliest inception to a provocative look at what the future of mankind portends.

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 and 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.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Edward O. Wilson has written over twenty books on the natural sciences. Over the course of his career, he has been awarded two Pulitzer Prizes, for On Human Nature, and, with Bert Hölldobler, The Ants; the US National Medal of Science; the Crafoord Prize; Japan’s International Prize for Biology; the Presidential Medal and Nonino Prize of Italy; and the Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society. For his contributions to conservation biology, he has received the Audubon Medal of the National Audubon Society and the Gold Medal of the Worldwide Fund for Nature. He was a Finalist for the National Book Award in 1972 for The Insect Societies.


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Photo credit: Jerry Bauer