The Meaning of Human Existence

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 087140480X

Category: Science

Page: 192

View: 5976

National Book Award Finalist. How did humanity originate and why does a species like ours exist on this planet? Do we have a special place, even a destiny in the universe? Where are we going, and perhaps, the most difficult question of all, "Why?" In The Meaning of Human Existence, his most philosophical work to date, Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist Edward O. Wilson grapples with these and other existential questions, examining what makes human beings supremely different from all other species. Searching for meaning in what Nietzsche once called "the rainbow colors" around the outer edges of knowledge and imagination, Wilson takes his readers on a journey, in the process bridging science and philosophy to create a twenty-first-century treatise on human existence—from our earliest inception to a provocative look at what the future of mankind portends. Continuing his groundbreaking examination of our "Anthropocene Epoch," which he began with The Social Conquest of Earth, described by the New York Times as "a sweeping account of the human rise to domination of the biosphere," here Wilson posits that we, as a species, now know enough about the universe and ourselves that we can begin to approach questions about our place in the cosmos and the meaning of intelligent life in a systematic, indeed, in a testable way. Once criticized for a purely mechanistic view of human life and an overreliance on genetic predetermination, Wilson presents in The Meaning of Human Existence his most expansive and advanced theories on the sovereignty of human life, 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," "Free Will," or "Religion"; 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. The human epoch that began in biological evolution and passed into pre-, then recorded, history is now more than ever before in our hands. Yet alarmed that we are about to abandon natural selection by redesigning biology and human nature as we wish them, Wilson soberly concludes that advances in science and technology bring us our greatest moral dilemma since God stayed the hand of Abraham.
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The Meaning of Human Existence

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9781631491146

Category: Health & Fitness

Page: 208

View: 2039

A 21st-century philosophical argument against mechanistic views of human life outlines expansive and advanced theories on human behavior to consider how humans are supremely different from all other species. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of On Human Nature. 75,000 first printing.
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The Meaning of Human Existence

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780871401007

Category: Science

Page: 207

View: 8122

A 21st-century philosophical argument against mechanistic views of human life outlines expansive and advanced theories on human behavior to consider how humans are supremely different from all other species. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of On Human Nature. 75,000 first printing.
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The Social Conquest of Earth

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0871403307

Category: Science

Page: 352

View: 5759

New York Times Bestseller From the most celebrated heir to Darwin comes a groundbreaking book on evolution, the summa work of Edward O. Wilson's legendary career. Sparking vigorous debate in the sciences, The Social Conquest of Earth upends “the famous theory that evolution naturally encourages creatures to put family first” (Discover). Refashioning the story of human evolution, Wilson draws on his remarkable knowledge of biology and social behavior to demonstrate that group selection, not kin selection, is the premier driving force of human evolution. In a work that James D. Watson calls “a monumental exploration of the biological origins of the human condition,” Wilson explains how our innate drive to belong to a group is both a “great blessing and a terrible curse” (Smithsonian). Demonstrating that the sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts are fundamentally biological in nature, the renowned Harvard University biologist presents us with the clearest explanation ever produced as to the origin of the human condition and why it resulted in our domination of the Earth’s biosphere.
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Letters to a Young Scientist

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0871407000

Category: Science

Page: 256

View: 4507

Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist Edward O. Wilson imparts the wisdom of his storied career to the next generation. Edward O. Wilson has distilled sixty years of teaching into a book for students, young and old. Reflecting on his coming-of-age in the South as a Boy Scout and a lover of ants and butterflies, Wilson threads these twenty-one letters, each richly illustrated, with autobiographical anecdotes that illuminate his career—both his successes and his failures—and his motivations for becoming a biologist. At a time in human history when our survival is more than ever linked to our understanding of science, Wilson insists that success in the sciences does not depend on mathematical skill, but rather a passion for finding a problem and solving it. From the collapse of stars to the exploration of rain forests and the oceans’ depths, Wilson instills a love of the innate creativity of science and a respect for the human being’s modest place in the planet’s ecosystem in his readers.
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A Significant Life

Human Meaning in a Silent Universe

Author: Todd May

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022623570X

Category: Philosophy

Page: 240

View: 4042

What makes for a good life, or a beautiful one, or, perhaps most important, a meaningful one? Throughout history most of us have looked to our faith, our relationships, or our deeds for the answer. But in A Significant Life, philosopher Todd May offers an exhilarating new way of thinking about these questions, one deeply attuned to life as it actually is: a work in progress, a journey—and often a narrative. Offering moving accounts of his own life and memories alongside rich engagements with philosophers from Aristotle to Heidegger, he shows us where to find the significance of our lives: in the way we live them. May starts by looking at the fundamental fact that life unfolds over time, and as it does so, it begins to develop certain qualities, certain themes. Our lives can be marked by intensity, curiosity, perseverance, or many other qualities that become guiding narrative values. These values lend meanings to our lives that are distinct from—but also interact with—the universal values we are taught to cultivate, such as goodness or happiness. Offering a fascinating examination of a broad range of figures—from music icon Jimi Hendrix to civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, from cyclist Lance Armstrong to The Portrait of a Lady’s Ralph Touchett to Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer who tried to assassinate Hitler—May shows that narrative values offer a rich variety of criteria by which to assess a life, specific to each of us and yet widely available. They offer us a way of reading ourselves, who we are, and who we might like to be. Clearly and eloquently written, A Significant Life is a recognition and a comfort, a celebration of the deeply human narrative impulse by which we make—even if we don’t realize it—meaning for ourselves. It offers a refreshing way to think of an age-old question, of quite simply, what makes a life worth living.
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Rationalist Spirituality

An Exploration of the Meaning of Life and Existence Informed by Logic and Science

Author: Bernardo Kastrup

Publisher: John Hunt Publishing

ISBN: 1846944074

Category: Philosophy

Page: 116

View: 2435

Why does the universe exist and what are you supposed to do in it? This question has been addressed by religions since time immemorial, but popular answers often fail to account for obvious aspects of reality. Indeed, if God knows everything, why do we need to learn through pain and suffering? If God is omnipotent, why are we needed to do good? If the universe is fundamentally good, why are wars, crime, and injustice all around us? In modern society, orthodox science takes the rational high-ground and tackles these contradictions by denying the very need for, and the existence of, meaning. Indeed, many of us implicitly accept the notion that rationality somehow contradicts spirituality. That is a modern human tragedy, not only for its insidiousness, but for the fact that it is simply not true. In this book, the author constructs a coherent and logical argument for the meaning of existence, informed by science itself. A framework is laid out wherein all aspects of human existence have a logical, coh
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The Origins of Creativity

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: Liveright Publishing

ISBN: 1631493191

Category: Science

Page: 256

View: 1585

An eloquent exploration of creativity, The Origins of Creativity grapples with the question of how this uniquely human expression—so central to our identity as individuals and, collectively, as a species—came about and how it has manifested itself throughout the history of our species. In this profound and lyrical book, one of our most celebrated biologists offers a sweeping examination of the relationship between the humanities and the sciences: what they offer to each other, how they can be united, and where they still fall short. Both endeavours, Edward O. Wilson reveals, have their roots in human creativity—the defining trait of our species. Reflecting on the deepest origins of language, storytelling, and art, Wilson demonstrates how creativity began not ten thousand years ago, as we have long assumed, but over one hundred thousand years ago in the Paleolithic age. Chronicling this evolution of creativity from primate ancestors to humans, The Origins of Creativity shows how the humanities, spurred on by the invention of language, have played a largely unexamined role in defining our species. And in doing so, Wilson explores what we can learn about human nature from a surprising range of creative endeavors—the instinct to create gardens, the use of metaphors and irony in speech, and the power of music and song. Our achievements in science and the humanities, Wilson notes, make us uniquely advanced as a species, but also give us the potential to be supremely dangerous, most worryingly in our abuse of the planet. The humanities in particular suffer from a kind of anthropomorphism, encumbered by a belief that we are the only species among millions that seem to matter, yet Wilson optimistically reveals how researchers will have to address this parlous situation by pushing further into the realm of science, especially fields such as evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and anthropology. With eloquence and humanity, Wilson calls for a transformational "Third Enlightenment," in which the blending of these endeavors will give us a deeper understanding of the human condition and our crucial relationship with the natural world.
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Symbol & Archetype

A Study of the Meaning of Existence

Author: Martin Lings

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9781887752794

Category: Religion

Page: 158

View: 1343

Every religious tradition or metaphysical worldview involves a system of powerful symbols, most of which bear common meanings across cultures, continents, and time. This volume, complete with a 9th century Quranic manuscript, explores the significance of the most recurrent symbols and archetypes in human history and elaborates a compelling theory for why symbolism plays such an essential role in human life. The work explores certain basic aspects of symbolism in relation to the Divinity, the hierarchy of the universe, the function of human faculties and qualities, the human condition, natural objects, works of art, and the final end?all with reference to the great living religions of the world, and in particular to Christianity and Islam.
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Meaning and Authenticity

Bernard Lonergan and Charles Taylor on the Drama of Authentic Human Existence

Author: Brian J. Braman

Publisher: University of Toronto Press

ISBN: 0802098029

Category: Philosophy

Page: 138

View: 957

Presents a dialogue between Bernard Lonergan and Charles Taylor, thinkers who placed a high value on the search for human authenticity, both of whom maintain that there is a normative conception of authentic human life that overcomes moral relativism, narcissism, privatism, and the collapse of the public self.
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Existence, Meaning, Excellence

Aristotelian Reflections on the Meaning of Life

Author: Andrius Bielskis

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1315447223

Category: Social Science

Page: 132

View: 5450

This book addresses the ‘perennial’ question of the meaning of life from the point of view of a novel interpretation of Aristotle’s teleology. Beginning with the premise that at the core of modernity and modern moral imagination are the entropy of meaning and the sense of meaninglessness, the author critically engages with the work of the post-war existentialists, chiefly that of Albert Camus and Martin Heidegger, to argue that their analyses are unconvincing and that the question of the meaning of being should therefore be approached using different assumptions, based on the notion of flourishing life. From this Aristotelian outlook, Existence, Meaning, Excellence employs Alasdair MacIntyre’s critique of modernity, together with his conceptions of practice and the narrative unity of life and tradition to provide a novel philosophical account of existence, meaning and excellence - an account which is used to contribute to debates (between Kantian and Nietzschean perspectives) on the nature of art and genius, with Mozart’s genius being used by way of illustration. A fascinating and powerfully argued engagement with existentialist thought that draws on the ‘virtue’ tradition to explore questions of meaning, as well as wider questions within philosophy, this book will appeal to philosophers and social theorists with interests in existentialism, moral philosophy and accounts of ‘the good’ based on the notions of human flourishing.
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The Ants

Author: Bert Hölldobler,Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 0674040759

Category: Nature

Page: 732

View: 509

Discusses the anatomy, physiology, social organization, ecology, and natural history of ants
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Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 1631490834

Category: Science

Page: 256

View: 9251

Half-Earth proposes an achievable plan to save our imperiled biosphere: devote half the surface of the Earth to nature. In order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet, says Edward O. Wilson in his most impassioned book to date. Half-Earth argues that the situation facing us is too large to be solved piecemeal and proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: dedicate fully half the surface of the Earth to nature. If we are to undertake such an ambitious endeavor, we first must understand just what the biosphere is, why it's essential to our survival, and the manifold threats now facing it. In doing so, Wilson describes how our species, in only a mere blink of geological time, became the architects and rulers of this epoch and outlines the consequences of this that will affect all of life, both ours and the natural world, far into the future. Half-Earth provides an enormously moving and naturalistic portrait of just what is being lost when we clip "twigs and eventually whole braches of life's family tree." In elegiac prose, Wilson documents the many ongoing extinctions that are imminent, paying tribute to creatures great and small, not the least of them the two Sumatran rhinos whom he encounters in captivity. Uniquely, Half-Earth considers not only the large animals and star species of plants but also the millions of invertebrate animals and microorganisms that, despite being overlooked, form the foundations of Earth's ecosystems. In stinging language, he avers that the biosphere does not belong to us and addresses many fallacious notions such as the idea that ongoing extinctions can be balanced out by the introduction of alien species into new ecosystems or that extinct species might be brought back through cloning. This includes a critique of the "anthropocenists," a fashionable collection of revisionist environmentalists who believe that the human species alone can be saved through engineering and technology. Despite the Earth's parlous condition, Wilson is no doomsayer, resigned to fatalism. Defying prevailing conventional wisdom, he suggests that we still have time to put aside half the Earth and identifies actual spots where Earth's biodiversity can still be reclaimed. Suffused with a profound Darwinian understanding of our planet's fragility, Half-Earth reverberates with an urgency like few other books, but it offers an attainable goal that we can strive for on behalf of all life.
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Being Alive and Having to Die

The Spiritual Odyssey of Forrest Church

Author: Dan Cryer

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

ISBN: 1429989351

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 368

View: 2449

One of the year's Top Ten Books on Religion and Spirituality (Booklist), Being Alive and Having to Die is the story of the remarkable public and private journey of Reverend Forrest Church, the scholar, activist, and preacher whose death became a way to celebrate life. Through his pulpit at the prestigious Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York, Reverend Forrest Church became a champion of liberal religion and a leading opponent of the religious right. An inspired preacher, a thoughtful theologian and an eloquent public intellectual, Church built a congregation committed to social service for people in need, while writing twenty five books, hosting a cable television program, and being featured in People, Esquire, New York Magazine, and on numerous national television and radio appearances. Being Alive and Having to Die works on two levels, as an examination of liberal religion during the past 30 years of conservative ascendancy, and as a fascinating personal story. Church grew up the son of Senator Frank Church of Idaho, famous for combating the Vietnam War in the 1960s and the CIA in the 1970s. Like many sons of powerful fathers, he rebelled and took a different path in life, which led him to his own prominence. Then, in 1991, at the height of his fame, he fell in love with a married parishioner and nearly lost his pulpit. Eventually, he regained his stature, overcame a long-secret alcoholism, wrote his best books–and found himself diagnosed with terminal cancer. His three year public journey toward death brought into focus the preciousness of life, not only for himself, but for his ministry. Based on extraordinary access to Church and over 200 interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, Dan Cryer bears witness to a full, fascinating, at time controversial life. Being Alive and Having to Die is an honest look at an imperfect man and his lasting influence on modern faith.
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To Be a Machine

Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death

Author: Mark O'Connell

Publisher: Anchor

ISBN: 110191159X

Category: Computers

Page: 256

View: 6300

"A globe-spanning investigation into the Transhumanist movement, considering the tech billionaires, scientific luminaries, and DIY body-hackers attempting to prolong, improve, and ultimately transcend the limits of human life"--
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The Big Picture

Author: Sean Carroll

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

ISBN: 1780746075

Category: Science

Page: 464

View: 3866

Where are we? Who are we? Do our beliefs, hopes and dreams mean anything out there in the void? Can human purpose and meaning ever fit into a scientific worldview? Acclaimed award-winning author Sean Carroll brings his extraordinary intellect to bear on the realms of knowledge, the laws of nature and the most profound questions about life, death and our place in it all. In a dazzlingly unique presentation, Carroll takes us through the scientific revolution’s avalanche of discoveries, from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness and the universe itself. Delving into the way the world works at the quantum, cosmic and human levels, he reveals how human values relate to scientific reality. An extraordinary synthesis of cosmos-sprawling science and profound thought, The Big Picture is Carroll’s quest to explain our world. Destined to sit alongside the works of our greatest thinkers, from Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan to Daniel Dennett and E. O. Wilson, this book shows that while our lives may be forever dwarfed by the immensity of the universe, they can be redeemed by our capacity to comprehend it and give it meaning.
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Naturalist

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: Island Press

ISBN: 1597269360

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 416

View: 8798

Edward O. Wilson -- University Professor at Harvard, winner of two Pulitzer prizes, eloquent champion of biodiversity -- is arguably one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. His career represents both a blueprint and a challenge to those who seek to explore the frontiers of scientific understanding. Yet, until now, little has been told of his life and of the important events that have shaped his thought.In Naturalist, Wilson describes for the first time both his growth as a scientist and the evolution of the science he has helped define. He traces the trajectory of his life -- from a childhood spent exploring the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida to life as a tenured professor at Harvard -- detailing how his youthful fascination with nature blossomed into a lifelong calling. He recounts with drama and wit the adventures of his days as a student at the University of Alabama and his four decades at Harvard University, where he has achieved renown as both teacher and researcher.As the narrative of Wilson's life unfolds, the reader is treated to an inside look at the origin and development of ideas that guide today's biological research. Theories that are now widely accepted in the scientific world were once untested hypotheses emerging from one mans's broad-gauged studies. Throughout Naturalist, we see Wilson's mind and energies constantly striving to help establish many of the central principles of the field of evolutionary biology.The story of Wilson's life provides fascinating insights into the making of a scientist, and a valuable look at some of the most thought-provoking ideas of our time.
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On Human Nature

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 0674076559

Category: Science

Page: 284

View: 9547

In his new preface E. O. Wilson reflects on how he came to write this book: how The Insect Societies led him to write Sociobiology, and how the political and religious uproar that engulfed that book persuaded him to write another book that would better explain the relevance of biology to the understanding of human behavior.
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The Meaning of It All

Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

Author: Richard P. Feynman

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 0786739142

Category: Science

Page: 192

View: 2391

Many appreciate Richard P. Feynman's contributions to twentieth-century physics, but few realize how engaged he was with the world around him—how deeply and thoughtfully he considered the religious, political, and social issues of his day. Now, a wonderful book—based on a previously unpublished, three-part public lecture he gave at the University of Washington in 1963—shows us this other side of Feynman, as he expounds on the inherent conflict between science and religion, people's distrust of politicians, and our universal fascination with flying saucers, faith healing, and mental telepathy. Here we see Feynman in top form: nearly bursting into a Navajo war chant, then pressing for an overhaul of the English language (if you want to know why Johnny can't read, just look at the spelling of “friend”); and, finally, ruminating on the death of his first wife from tuberculosis. This is quintessential Feynman—reflective, amusing, and ever enlightening.
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Embodiment and the Meaning of Life

Author: Jeff Noonan

Publisher: McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP

ISBN: 0773553940

Category: Philosophy

Page: N.A

View: 706

The long tradition of pessimism in philosophy and poetry notoriously laments suffering caused by vulnerabilities of the human body. The most familiar and contemporary version is antinatalism, the view that it is wrong to bring sentient life into existence because birth inevitably produces suffering. Technotopianism, which stems from a similarly negative view of embodied limitations, claims that we should escape sickness and death through radical human-enhancement technologies. In Embodiment and the Meaning of Life Jeff Noonan presents pessimism and technotopianism as two sides of the same coin, as both begin from the premise that the limitations of embodied life are inherently negative. He argues that rather than rendering life pointless, the tragic failures that mark life are fundamental to the good of human existence. The necessary limitations of embodied being are challenges for each person to live well, not only for their own sake, but for the sake of the future of the human project. Meaning is not a given, Noonan suggests, but rather the product of labour upon ourselves, others, and the world. Meaningful labour is threatened equally by unjust social systems and runaway technological development that aims to replace human action, rather than liberate it. Calling on us to draw conceptual connections between finitude, embodiment, and the meaning of life, this book shows that seeking the common good is our most viable and materially realistic source of optimism about the future.
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