33 pages 1 hour read

Edward O. Wilson

On Human Nature

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1978

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Chapter 9Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 9 Summary and Analysis: “Hope”

In the final chapter, Edward O. Wilson addresses the existence of hope made possible by the sociobiological processes discussed thus far. The first admission in elevating sociobiological study of human nature is that the combination of various fields of knowledge has allowed for “a deeper and more courageous examination of human nature” (195) than ever before. The previous eras of philosophical and anthropological investigation were not fruitless, but they are now outdated. The second admission is this: Decisions about the future of human nature will need to be made based on scientific findings, and this power is a substantial one.

Human nature as it exists presently is “a hodgepodge of special genetic adaptations to an environment largely vanished, the world of the Ice-Age hunter-gatherer” (196). The world of modernity is changing at a more rapid pace than ever recorded before in human history. Humans’ current genetic traits were naturally selected based on value systems which they generally no longer hold. As Wilson points out, “the new ethicists will want to ponder the cardinal value of the survival of human genes in the form of a common pool over generations” (196-97). Human nature directs individuals toward a selfishness and tribalism that benefit those closest to them alone.