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[Wilson, Edward O.]のThe Meaning of Human Existence
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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.

レビュー

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. "

This compact volume packs a great punch particularly in its new compelling argument that it would be the gravest of mistakes to reengineer our minds to make ourselves supermen. It understands our limited brains as the right tool for building the kind of future we require, and with this 'existential conservatism' gives us new reason to celebrate the wonder that is us. --Bill McKibben, author of Enough"

With remarkable clarity and a depth of insight that is absolutely unique, E. O. Wilson provides a highly readable and immensely enlightening analysis of nothing less than the meaning of human existence and the relationship of our species to the physical universe. By effortlessly merging science with philosophy, Wilson has created a masterwork that lays out his theories of our destiny. Already the world's most distinguished evolutionary biologist, Wilson has transcended disciplinary boundaries with this book to create an invaluable analysis of who we are and the choices we now confront; it is a must-read for all. --Vice President Al Gore"

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 Carre stands above spy writers. He s wise, learned, wicked, vivid, oracular.--Dwight Garner"

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"

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 Carre stands above spy writers. He's wise, learned, wicked, vivid, oracular.--Dwight Garner

This illustrious book collects all 160 photographs of renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass and astutely places Douglass's personal interest in photography into the context of his career and legacy.... This study provides a multifaceted, unique look at one of the most influential figures of American history.

This stunning volume presents 160 photographs, some for the first time, and they not only follow Douglass throughout his life but also place him within the times he lived.... Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, and Celeste-Marie Bernier point out that Douglass saw the truth-telling aspects of photography and how it could be used as a tool in the fight against slavery, as photos both humanized African Americans and revealed the horrors of their enslavement. This tour de force is a must-have that will enhance history and reference collections.--Patricia Ann Owens

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

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

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

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

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  • フォーマット: Kindle版
  • ファイルサイズ: 936 KB
  • 紙の本の長さ: 209 ページ
  • 出版社: Liveright; 1版 (2014/10/6)
  • 販売: Amazon Services International, Inc.
  • 言語: 英語
  • ASIN: B00J8R3IC8
  • Text-to-Speech(テキスト読み上げ機能): 有効
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370 人中、348人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 5.0 An epic (and very comforting) scientific creation narrative 2014/10/3
投稿者 B. Case - (Amazon.com)
形式: ハードカバー
"The Meaning of Human Existence," by Edward O. Wilson, is an extraordinary book: audacious, illuminating--and in the end, oddly comforting. How could it not be with a subject and title so outrageously brazen? Written by one of the most honored and preeminent living biologists, and at the pinnacle of his life, this is an exceptionally personal book. It is a synthesis and distillation of all the big who-are-we ideas he's put together from a lifetime of scientific research and personal experience. You might call it a highly personal philosophical anthropology. But more accurately, it's a scientific creation narrative about how we came to be what we are, what makes us special in the cosmos, and how we can use that specialness to improve our future.

I downloaded this book the day it was published and devoured it over the course of the next two days. Now, a few days later, I am still basking in the satisfying glow and deep comfort of that extraordinary experience.

The book pleased me not because it offered any major new scientific concepts or ideas. In fact, I found I was already quiet familiar with nearly all of the science presented in the book. If you've read Wilson's other bestselling books, and you're reasonably well-read in the fields of prehistory, evolutionary biology, cultural anthropology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and comparative religions, then you, too, will find little new here. What was beautiful and remarkable was how the author was able to weave these many big concepts together to form a stunning tapestry of truth, a new science-based creation narrative.

In this book, Wilson recounts his personal scientific take on the epic journey of human evolution. Wilson focuses that journey heavily on his recent groundbreaking thesis about the importance of human eusociality (see his "The Social Conquest of Earth"). The book also touches briefly on the latest scientific knowledge concerning instinct, the biology of religion, free will, and consciousness. As an important side note--yet given a whole chapter of its own--the author makes it clear that in the greater scheme of things, it is "microbes that rule the Galaxy." For me, the most entertaining and enlightening chapter was the one entitled, "Portrait of E. T." In that chapter, the author speculates--based on scientific theory--about the characteristics he would expect from any "human-grade aliens on Earth-like planets." He gives us eight characteristics; taken together, they form a startling and eye-opening portrait, one significantly different from that we currently see in most science fiction.

Finally, the book celebrates the dual importance of the humanities in addition to the sciences as the joint hallmarks of human achievement. He makes a point that if intelligent aliens were ever to contact earth, they would probably be far less interested in our science than our arts and humanities. After all, if they were to contact us, it is obvious that we would have little knowledge about science that they would not already know. It is our amazing accumulation of cultural heritage that would fascinate and thrill them.

In closing, it would be an enormous oversight if I failed to note what a sublime pleasure it always is to read Wilson's clear, thoughtful, eloquent and exquisite prose. I will be deeply saddened if this turns out to be his last book.
162 人中、153人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 4.0 Eloquence without conclusion 2014/10/17
投稿者 Newton Munnow - (Amazon.com)
形式: ハードカバー
I've read many of E.O. Wilson's books. None have stunned me in the same way as when I first read 'On Human Nature' but 'The Meaning of Human Existence' boasts a big title for what is, essentially, an echo of many of his past works. When Wilson sticks to science, he's as sharp and eloquent as ever. When he veers to philosophical guesswork, as in his chapter on Extraterrestrial Life, he's a lot less convincing.

While I liked the idea of visiting ETs being more concerned with the humanities than our scientific discoveries (they'd have reached the same scientific conclusions independent of human input) I wasn't convinced by Wilson's projections of what they might look like. I'm not sure there was any point in including such a chapter. In a book that should have been marshaling facts and arguments it felt like a less than amusing detour.

One of Wilson's main points remains that the internal conflict in human conscience is a result of thousands of years of trying to balance individual selection against group selection. In other words, selfishness is (to an extent) natural for each of us. But at the point it affects the group you belong to, it weakens that group. If it weakens it too much, adios to your entire group and goodbye to your gene pool. The rallying cry he concludes with, for humans to share enough knowledge to remember that they are part of life on earth rather than the point of life on earth, is a vital one. Fight ignorance, ask the right questions, catalog the answers - it's vintage Wilson. There are no breadcrumbs here thrown to the religious and Wilson's punches still hit home after all these years.
5 人中、5人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 3.0 A sweeping but thin vision. 2016/4/29
投稿者 Ryan Ahlgrim - (Amazon.com)
形式: ハードカバー Amazonで購入
The musings of a famous scientist at the end of his career, Wilson wishes to integrate the sciences and the humanities--and dump religion--for the sake of humanity's beneficial future. Optimistic, often amusing, and always humane, Wilson provides a sweeping vision of what it means to be human. Unfortunately, he doesn't sufficiently appreciate the humanities, which means that its integration with science is reduced to doing propaganda for science. And he seriously misunderstands religion, ignoring or ignorant of the thinking of leading theologians. His brief comments on Niebuhr and Kierkegaard display inadequate engagement with his subject. Nothing outside the methods of science is allowed to be considered. Wilson is at his best when he's talking about his specialty--insects, especially ants. But overall the book is repetitive and merely skims the surface of its topics. At least it's easy to read and short.
17 人中、15人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 2.0 This is an account of the condition, not the meaning, of human existence; keep looking if you expect otherwise 2016/10/31
投稿者 Peter Wall - (Amazon.com)
形式: ペーパーバック Amazonで購入
This book should have been titled "The Condition of Human Existence." There is nothing here about meaning, or how it might be created. This is just a biologist reminding everyone again that evolution by natural selection is scientifically factual, and creation myths and folktales are not. Here and there, he flits back and forth between insisting that the sciences and the humanities need each other, but then extolling the sciences as superior. Well, okay.

The sciences are undoubtedly superior for describing and classifying the phenomena that we experience, including ourselves. But recognizing the evolutionary bases of the human condition says nothing about the meaning of our existence—it only clears away the authority of mythological accounts that are rooted in supernatural revelation. (And his discussion of those accounts, while appropriately dismissive, is still irritatingly simplistic.) Remaining open is the question of whether, given the condition of the human species as a product of natural selection, anything resembling meaning or purpose is possible, and, if so, how we might discover or create it. Wilson has nothing to say on that question, and fails even to acknowledge that it might be asked.

He does suggest an interesting idea, which is that "individual selection favors what we call sin and group selection favors virtue" (p. 179), but it's not clear how that ought to affect the question of meaning. Undoubtedly, we humans experience a troubling conflict between our individuality and our need for social support, but that is a condition of our existence, not its meaning.

If you are looking for another restatement that, yes, evolution by natural selection really does have more explanatory power than supernaturalist creation myths for establishing the conditions of human existence, then this is a decent little book. But it offers nothing further, particularly if you are excited by the title and the prospect of tackling the problem of meaning. And for those who are not already persuaded of our evolutionary nature, I doubt this book will shift your view; he's preaching to the choir.
1 人中、1人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 5.0 Entertaining wisdom we should all pay attention to... 2016/6/16
投稿者 zencat - (Amazon.com)
形式: ペーパーバック Amazonで購入
Suppose you had the opportunity to spend an afternoon in the shade by the river with one of the smartest most accomplished people you will ever know. After a few beers he begins to tell you what his long lifetime of science and deep thought has taught him and what he thinks could happen in the future. He addresses the BIG questions. As an added bonus he happens to be a great imaginative story teller and funny, too.

If you recorded it all this might be the transcript.

This is the plain vanilla straight scientific view right from the lecture halls of Harvard [!] no less. Human origins and our ultimate destiny and much more... No hint of mysticism or meaning beyond the 'what you see is what you get' variety. Well, all right, every point of view deserves to be heard in my opinion. Whether or not one agrees totally with this pure existential humanistic point of view, it is clear the scientist who wrote it believes it. He makes his case in a clear and interesting way that is fun and enlightening reading.

Great book!
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