'Creativity is the unique and defining trait of our species; and its ultimate goal, self-understanding,' begins Edward Wilson's sweeping examination of the humanities and their relationship to the sciences. By studying fields as diverse as paleontology, evolutionary biology and neuroscience, Wilson demonstrates that human creativity began not 10,000 years ago, as we have long assumed, but over 100,000 years ago in the Paleolithic Age. Chronicling the evolution of creativity from primates to humans, Wilson shows how the humanities, in large part spurred on by the invention of language, have played a previously unexamined role in defining our species. Exploring a surprising range of creative endeavors – the instinct to create gardens; the use of metaphors and irony in speech; or the power of music and song – Wilson proposes a transformational 'Third Enlightenment' in which the blending of science and the humanities will enable us to gain a deeper understanding of the human condition, and how it ultimately originated.
Edward O. Wilson was widely recognized as one of the world's pre-eminent biologists and naturalists. The author of more than twenty books, including Consilience, The Diversity of Life, The Social Conquest of Earth, The Meaning of Human Existence and Letters to a Young Scientist, Wilson was a Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he lived in Lexington, Massachusetts.
"An intellectual hero [...] A superb celebrator of science in all its manifestations"
– Ian McEwan
"Darwin's great successor"
– Jeffrey Sachs
"Wilson speaks with a humane eloquence which calls to us all"
– Oliver Sacks
"As always, Wilson tosses off astonishing insights with charming ease (he's a master of the lyrically short sentence). These profoundly humane meditations on nature, creativity, and our primal yearnings will delight his longtime fans and provide newcomers with the perfect introduction to the career and ideas of one of our most distinguished living scientists – whose high-school nickname, I was enchanted to learn, was 'Snake Wilson"
– Jim Holt, author of Why Does the World Exist?
"With his trademark boundless intellect and elegant writing, Wilson argues that we need both the sciences and the humanities in order to understand the deep origins of what makes us human"
– Alan Paige Lightman, physicist, novelist, and Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at MIT