33 pages 1 hour read

Edward O. Wilson

On Human Nature

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1978

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.


Authorial Context: The Encroachment of Genetics on the Social Sciences

When Edward O. Wilson began his research in the field of sociobiology, it was a relatively new field with quite a number of detractors. The main critique against sociobiology was that its synthesis of the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences was inappropriate (academically speaking), and that the field was pseudoscience (as biology and the study of genetics were being framed as able to answer questions that the humanities had long considered their own).

Wilson was an expert in myrmecology, the study of ants, not anthropology, sociology, or even philosophy—academic fields that had long considered the question of human nature as belonging to their own studies. In presenting sociobiology as the principal lens through which the human species should be viewed, many specialists and academics considered the field both presumptuous and false. However, since the publication of On Human Nature, the academic community has developed a new appreciation for Wilson’s theses and findings, especially in his insistence that neurobiology has an important part to play in addressing questions of cultural evolution and human behavior.