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E. O. Wilson's Latest Work(s)

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E. O. Wilson's Latest Work(s)
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DeanBlog EditorUser avatarPosts: 593Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 1:49 pmLocation: United Kingdom Gender: Pinecone

Post E. O. Wilson's Latest Work(s)

I considered placing this thread within the Science & Mathematics fora, but it seems more pertinent here, as it pertains directly to scientific literature, and / or popular science writing.

As many of you may (or may not) know, last month, Liveright Books released a book which might well have been described as E. O. Wilson's magnum opus.

The Social Conquest of Earth

Amazon description:
    From the most celebrated heir to Darwin comes a groundbreaking book on evolution, the summa work of Edward O. Wilson's legendary career.
    Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going? In a generational work of clarity and passion, one of our greatest living scientists directly addresses these three fundamental questions of religion, philosophy, and science while "overturning the famous theory that evolution naturally encourages creatures to put family first" (Discover magazine). Refashioning the story of human evolution in a work that is certain to generate headlines, Wilson draws on his remarkable knowledge of biology and Social behavior to show that group selection, not kin selection, is the primary driving force of human evolution. He proves that history makes no sense without prehistory, and prehistory makes no sense without biology. Demonstrating that the sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts are fundamentally biological in nature, Wilson 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.

As Scientific American phrased it: he discusses his latest thoughts on evolution, and group-dynamics, as opposed to selfish-genes, and argues that they guide altruism. And argues; "Colonies of cheetahs lose to colonies of co-operators". What many people may not have seen coming, was his critique of kin-selection in favour of group-selection, which was almost guaranteed to cause controversy, and even received a critical review by Richard Dawkins (which I may link to, if someone wants it).

It should be noted that Wilson's general style, and his approach to writing, is far different from that of writers such as Dawkins, and the majority of popular-science writers for that matter, and this is (personally) one of the reasons why I admire him, as (probably) one of the greatest modern biologists. His style reveals considerable scientific thinking, honesty, and rigour.

I must admit, I am enjoying this book very much (recently ordered it from America). Wilson has a superb talent for writing, albeit not so much for public-speaking in the way that Dawkins, Krauss, and others seem to have. . . and if you do not feel provisionally inclined to read his book, or do not have the time, there is always this filmed lecture, which I found equally thoroughly enjoyable: Edward O. Wilson: The Social Conquest of Earth (LNF) . . . the book is nevertheless (as always); rather readable, and intriguing in more ways than one, I feel. Has anyone else given it a read, thus far?

I must say, it's certainly a refreshing take on evolutionary theory, explained a very coherent, and very explanatory manner. It should also be said that the same goes for discussion of philosophy and neuroscience, i.e. the nature of human consciousness. Incidentally, neuroscientist Christof Koch's "Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist", which I am now also reading, alongside Sebastian Seung's "Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Who We Are", released in February of this year, as well as Stephen Gasiorowicz's "Quantum Physics".

From what I've seen, 2012 has been a very promising years so far in terms of the prolific spade of new science books that have been released in the last 5-6 months. I was wondering if any of you have read much of these authors, and obviously Wilson in particular.

“You ask ‘Is there any Florida?’ I’m inclined to answer ‘No.’ There is no Florida, there’s only this, this England, which nauseates my soul.” – DH Lawrence

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Sat May 26, 2012 2:05 pm
LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2995Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: E. O. Wilson's Latest Work(s)

I'm slowly making my way through his book The Diversity of Life which is very fascinating. I keep getting distracted by other books though.
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Thu May 31, 2012 8:10 am
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