Books  General Natural History  Philosophy, Ethics & Religion 

The Meaning of Human Existence

Challenging a purely mechanistic view of human existence, Edward O. Wilson examines what makes human beings supremely different from all other species

By: Edward O Wilson (Author)

209 pages, no illustrations

Liveright Publishing Corporation

Paperback | Oct 2015 | #223018 | ISBN-13: 9781631491146
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £9.99 $12/€11 approx
Hardback | Nov 2014 | #215782 | ISBN-13: 9780871401007
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £14.99 $18/€17 approx

About this book

Searching for meaning in what Nietzsche once called the rainbow colors around the outer edges of knowledge and imagination, Edward O. Wilson bridges science and philosophy to create a twenty-first-century treatise on human existence. Once criticized for his over-reliance on genetics, Wilson unfurls here his most expansive and advanced theories on human behavior, recognizing that, even though the human and the spider evolved similarly, the poet's sonnet is wholly different from the spider's web. Whether attempting to explicate the Riddle of the Human Species, warning of the Collapse of Biodiversity, or even creating a plausible Portrait of E.T., Wilson does indeed believe that humanity holds a special position in the known universe. Alarmed, however, that we are about to abandon natural selection by redesigning biology and human nature as we wish them, Wilson concludes that advances in science and technology bring us our greatest moral dilemma since God stayed the hand of Abraham.

"A valedictory work [...] What a lively writer Mr. Wilson can be. This two time winner of the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction stands above the crowd of biology writers the way John le Carré stands above spy writers. He's wise, learned, wicked, vivid, oracular."
– Dwight Garner, New York Times Book Review

"In his typically elegant style, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Wilson (Letters to a Young Scientist) cannily and candidly probes the nature of human existence."
Publishers Weekly

 "E. O. Wilson is Darwin's great successor, a scientist of such astounding breadth, depth, experience, and brilliance that he offers us nothing less than a new understanding of humanity [...] You will see the beauty, mystery, and possibilities of human existence through the eyes of one of humanity's greatest and most intrepid explorers."
– Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University

"[A] tough-minded little primer-cum-manifesto [...] Compact and readable."
– Dan Cryer, Boston Globe

"There can be few better guides through our species' past journey and potential for the future [...] A provocative and beautifully written collection of essays."
– Tim Lenton, Nature

"No biologist has been more persistent or eloquent in correcting our misapprehensions about human origins than Edward O. Wilson [...] We should be grateful that Wilson, so late in his illustrious career, still appeals to reason and imagination in hopes of enlightening us about our nature and inspiring us to change our destructive ways."
– Scott Russell Sanders, Washington Post

"Wilson asks: Does humanity have a special place in the universe? Where are we going, and why? He answers by telling science's latest creation stories, and presenting a vision of the future both inspiring and plausible, not an easy feat to pull off [...] Wilson is both a wild-eyed optimist and a hard-nosed realist. What more can we ask of a prophet?"
– John Horgan, Scientific American

Related titles

Recommended Reading

The Social Conquest of Earth

The first part in a trilogy, answering the big question, “Where do we come from?”

NHBS Price: £10.99 £11.99 (Save £1.00) $13/€12 approx


The last part in a trilogy, answering the big question, “Where are we going?”

NHBS Price: £16.99 $21/€19 approx

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this product. Be the first to review this product!


Edward O. Wilson is widely recognized as one of the world's preeminent biologists and naturalists. The author of more than twenty books, including The Creation, The Social Conquest of Earth, and Letters to a Young Scientist, Wilson is a professor emeritus at Harvard University. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Bestsellers in this subject

The Mushroom at the End of the World

NHBS Price: £19.95 $24/€22 approx

Downward Causation and the Neurobiology of Free Will

NHBS Price: £108.00 $132/€121 approx

Biological Classification

NHBS Price: £19.99 $24/€22 approx

Why Look at Animals?

NHBS Price: £4.99 $6/€6 approx

The Nature of God's Acre

NHBS Price: £4.99 $6/€6 approx