Alfred A. Knopf
March 17, 1998
An enormous intellectual adventure. In this groundbreaking new book, the American biologist Edward O. Wilson, considered to be one of the world’s greatest living scientists, argues for the fundamental unity of all knowledge and the need to search for consilience – the proof that everything in our world is organized in terms of a small number of fundamental natural laws that comprise the principles underlying every branch of learning.
Professor Wilson, the pioneer of sociobiology and biodiversity, now once again breaks out of the conventions of current thinking. He shows how and why our explosive rise in intellectual mastery of the truths of our universe has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos and the human species – a vision that found its apogee in the Age of Enlightenment, then gradually was lost in the increasing fragmentation and specialization of knowledge in the last two centuries. Drawing on the physical sciences in biology, anthropology, psychology, religion, philosophy, and the arts, Professor Wilson shows why the goals of the original Enlightenment are surging back to life, why they are reappearing on the very frontiers of science and humanistic scholarship, and how they are beginning to sketch themselves as the blueprint for our world as it most profoundly, elegantly, and excitingly is.
Edward O. Wilson was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1929. He received his B.S. and M.S. in biology from the University of Alabama and, in 1955, his Ph.D. in biology from Harvard, where he has since taught, and where he has received both of its college-wide teaching awards. He is currently Pellegrino University Research Professor and Honorary Curator in Entomology of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. He is the author of two Pulitzer Prize-winning books, On Human Nature (1978) and The Ants (1990, with Burt Holldobler), as well as the recipient of many fellowships, honors, and awards, including the 1977 National Medal of Science, the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1990), the International Prize for Biology from Japan (1993), and, for his conservation efforts, the Gold Medal of the World Wide Fund for Nature (1990) and the Audubon Medal of the National Audubon Society (1995). He is on the Board of Directors of the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and the American Museum of Natural History, and gives many lectures throughout the world. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, with his wife, Irene.