From noted evolutionary biologist and the author of Evolution for Everyone comes a paradigm-changing new look at how we can apply evolutionary theory to our social and cultural institutions.
Charles Darwin's vision of evolution was so broad that he wrote "There is grandeur in this view of life" in the concluding paragraph of On the Origin of Species. By the 1970's, the Darwinian revolution was sufficiently complete that the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". Yet, according to David Sloan Wilson, the Darwinian revolution won't be truly complete until it makes sense of everything associated with the words "human", "culture," and "policy".
In a series of engaging stories – from the breeding of hens, to the timing of cataract surgeries, to the organization of an automobile plant – Wilson shows how an evolutionary worldview provides a practical toolkit for understanding not only genetic evolution, but also the fast-paced changes impacting our world and ourselves. What emerges is an incredibly empowering argument: If we can become wise managers of evolutionary processes, we can solve the problems of our age at all scales – from the efficacy of our groups, to our wellbeing as individuals, to our stewardship of the planet earth.
David Sloan Wilson is an evolutionary biologist with a special interest in human biocultural evolution, and Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. He is the author of Evolution for Everyone and The Neighborhood Project, as well as several academic books including Does Altruism Exist? and Darwin's Cathedral. He is the president of The Evolution Institute and is the editor in chief of the institute's online magazine This View of Life.
"Splendid [...] An excellent argument that evolution applies to culture as well as organisms [...] [Wilson is] a masterful educator."
– Kirkus (starred review)
"David Sloan Wilson has long been one of the most visionary and trail-blazing evolutionary biologists around, forcing the field to recognize that evolutionary change occurs from far more than selection solely at the level of the gene. In This View of Life, he explores the various surprising things that 'evolution' is and isn't, and its relevance to everything from everyday life to global policy decisions. It's thick with ideas and insights, written in a graceful, accessible style."
– Robert Sapolsky, New York Times bestselling author of Behave and Professor of Biology and Neurology at Stanford University
"Social policy as a branch of biology? Even if this at first strikes you as preposterous, keep on reading. There are so many new ideas and perspectives in this delightful and thought-provoking book that it would be your loss if you did not engage with it. Not everybody will agree with the main thesis in this book, but I expect that everybody's way of thinking will be challenged and ultimately enriched by it."
– Daron Acemoglu, New York Times Bestselling co-author of Why Nations Fail and the Killian Professor of Economics at MIT
"David Sloan Wilson is a clear-headed, sound-thinking, realistic idealist, and a great writer to boot. In this brilliant work he shows us how an evolutionary worldview can not only help us understand who we are – as a species, as individuals, and as a society – but can also help us develop better policies for our long-term good as social beings."
– Peter Gray, Research Professor at Boston College and author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life.
"I thought I understood evolutionary theory, but I never expected to see so much of human psychology, society, and economics through its lens. Rarely has a book so effectively changed the way I view the world."
– Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media and author of WTF: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us
"With This View of Life, master biologist David Sloan Wilson advances the case for evolutionary theory as essential in understanding the human condition. Using accessible and powerful prose, Wilson first spells out what evolution is – and then he goes on to vividly demonstrate how evolution can help us make better policies and live richer lives. This book should be read by anyone who is interested in what it means to be human and how to make the world a better place."
– Glenn Geher, co-author of Mating Intelligence Unleashed and Founding Director of Evolutionary Studies, State University of New York at New Paltz