33 pages 1 hour read

Edward O. Wilson

On Human Nature

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1978

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2004 PrefaceChapter Summaries & Analyses

2004 Preface Summary and Analysis

The importance of On Human Nature’s subject matter is broached in the very first line: “Can there be a more important subject than human nature? If the subject can be truly fathomed, then our species will be more precisely defined, and our actions perhaps more wisely guided” (Preface, 2004). This is the goal of the work, the question that needs to be answered for the human race to flourish. While many modern intellectuals have “doubted that a human nature exists at all” (Preface, 2004), Edward O. Wilson contends that human nature not only exists, but is biologically determined from inherited genetics.

Due to this fact, human nature needs the insights and guidance of biology and the scientific method to proceed. Scientific explanations grounded in the neurosciences and evolutionary biology will pave a new road to a nuanced understanding of what it means to be human. The new field of sociobiology will need to function as “a bridging discipline between the great branches of learning, or at the very least provide a useful toolkit for the analysis of human behavior” (Preface, 2004). Many scholars understandably view this synthetic field of study as a kind of infection appropriative of their own areas of expertise, but it is the only manner in which progress will be made.