33 pages 1 hour read

Edward O. Wilson

On Human Nature

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1978

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Important Quotes

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“Human nature can thus be ultimately understood only with the aid of the scientific method.”

(2004 Preface, Page x)

One of Edward O. Wilson’s theses in On Human Nature is the question concerning the definition and characterization of human nature—and how it needs to be approached from a scientific perspective. Wilson is convinced that philosophical, religious, and sociological approaches have fallen short precisely because they lack the concrete data which the scientific method provides.

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“The only way forward is to study human nature as part of the natural sciences, in an attempt to integrate the natural sciences with the social sciences and humanities.”

(Chapter 1, Page 6)

While Wilson is convinced that the scientific approach is necessary, he doesn’t believe it provides all answers. He states that the information provided by the natural sciences needs to be integrated into data provided by the social sciences (cultural anthropology, economics, philosophy, sociology, etc.).

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“Biology is the key to human nature, and social scientists cannot afford to ignore its rapidly tightening principles.”

(Chapter 1, Page 14)

The question of human nature up to this point has been the subject of the humanities and social sciences. Because of recent advancement in the natural sciences, sociology needs to take its cue from those doing empirical research on the biological makeup of humans (which determines human identity and action to a far greater degree than previously realized).