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Publisher's Summary

This revised edition of Human Nature begins a new phase in the most important intellectual controversy of this generation: Is human behavior controlled by the species' biological heritage? Does this heritage limit human destiny?

With characteristic pungency and simplicity of style, the author of Sociobiology challenges old prejudices and current misconceptions about the nature-nurture debate. He shows how evolution has left its traces on the most distinctively human activities, how patterns of generosity, self-sacrifice, and worship, as well as sexuality and aggression, reveal their deep roots in the life histories of primate bands that hunted big game in the last Ice Age. His goal is nothing less than the completion of the Darwinian revolution by bringing biological thought into the center of the social sciences and the humanities. Wilson presents a philosophy that cuts across the usual categories of conservative, liberal, or radical thought. In systematically applying the modern theory of natural selection to human society, he arrives at conclusions far removed from the social Darwinist legacy of the last century.

Sociobiological theory, he explains, is compatible with a broadly humane and egalitarian outlook. Human diversity is to be treasured, not merely tolerated, he argues. Discrimination against ethnic groups, homosexuals, and women is based on a complete misunderstanding of biological fact. But biological facts can never take the place of ethical choices. Once we understand our human nature, we must choose how "human" in the fullest, biological sense, we wish to remain. We cannot make this choice with the aid of external guides or absolute ethical principles, because our very concept of right and wrong is wholly rooted in our own biological past. This paradox is fundamental to the evolution of consciousness in any species; there is no formula for escaping it. The book is published by Harvard University Press.

©2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Wilson is a sophisticated and marvelously humane writer. His vision is a liberating one, and a reader of this splendid book comes away with a sense of the kinship that exists among the people, animals, and insects that share the planet." ( The New Yorker)
"Compellingly interesting and enormously important.... The most stimulating, the most provocative, and the most illuminating work of nonfiction I have read in some time." ( Washington Post Book World)

What listeners say about On Human Nature: Revised Edition

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  • Douglas
  • 22-07-2014

A Heralding Voice...

of the neo-Darwinean movement. If you know the work of Pinker, Dawkins, Dennett, Wright and other writers who have expounded on the evidence that an innate, biological human nature is a real and tangible thing (as opposed to the concept of the "blank slate" put forth most famously by Skinner, Watkins and the behaviorists during the early part of the century), you should know the work of Edward O. Wilson, a man who was so far ahead of the now accepted modern decriers of the "tabula rasa" that his early work was deemed scientific heresy. Wilson does not deny the influence of the environment on the genetic basis of human nature, but wipes away the absurd notion that a human being is shaped soley and absolutely by culture and surroundings. On Human Nature is a fine summation of his main ideas and comes highly recommended from these quarters.

12 people found this helpful

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  • William T. Mendoza
  • 19-05-2019

Still Relevant

Slightly dated but still excellent. Most of the science still applies. I would recommend it to anyone who has read the Selfish Gene or The Third Chimpanzee.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paul G. Brown
  • 07-01-2018

Brilliant, vital scientific treatise for our times

Initially published 40 years ago EO Wilson's On Nature sustains an argument whose resolution weighs so much more heavily on us today. Wilson argues that human cultures are all expressions of (that is, are animated and constrained by) human nature, and that human nature is the product of human biology and of Darwinian evolution. He concludes that we would all be better off unifying or at least combining the humanities (social sciences) and biology to understand our cultures, and decide our collective future.

Marvelous book.

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  • Connor Patterson
  • 28-03-2021

Fundamental reading for any human (if out of date)

Perhaps this book can only be appreciated fully once you've gained enough vocabulary and education/ life experience to envision all it discusses, and perhaps there are those that will reject many elements out of hand. But as an ecologist and human being this work, which I hadn't even know existed, made connections that I had started to see beforehand and so many that that I had not. It better placed humanity among the animals and other life of this planet and did, as much as any work from 1975 could, describe how evolution and natural selection might play out differently for post-societal animals than it does for most others. This book introduced me to the kin selection hypothesis for explaining homosexuality and altruism and filled a void in my understanding of the world that I hadn't quite realized I was looking to fill. This book is by no means diffinative, as the author make clear, but it should, I think, be viewed as an introduction to being human. In a world full of societies that seem content to leave our own nature as a foggy unknown, so easily manipulated through convenient opportunistic definition, this work provides tentative explainations and a framework of theories that make clearing that fog away more possible than ever. I gave it only four stars to acknowledge that in is almost 50 years out of date and I can't know what effect that has on the "truth" or "plausibly" of it's content now.
I now wish to go back in the series and listen to the previous work: "Sociobiology: The New Synthesis" so I can more fully grasp the concept as they relate to things beyond humanity - if only it was in audio too.

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  • Arnold
  • 26-06-2020

Superb! Must have in every book shelves

Grabe! Talagang magsusulat ng at least 15 words! Isn’t it enough to say that this ebook. Deserves to be presnt in every book shelve there is

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  • Bryanoutside
  • 16-11-2017

Timeless in its relevance to human nature.

An utterly fascinating book! Do not for a second let the age of this text inhibit you from reading it.

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  • Ed Dowding
  • 11-03-2017

epic validation for smart people like you

You're smart so you think about this already, that's why you're here. This confirms all the ways in which you're right.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Cornelis
  • 01-05-2017

wish it we're longer

Left me wanting more so badly. This is the only reason I gave it 4 out of 5. It is masterfully written... ok changed my mind I'll give it 5 stars

1 person found this helpful

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