Wilson, Edward Osborne (June 10, 1929—)
E. O. Wilson is an internationally renowned American polymath, biologist, ethical empiricist, academic, and author. His research focuses on sociobiology, biodiversity, and island biogeography. His eloquent writings address the unity of phenomena in the universe, the value of both secular and spiritual perspectives, human evolution, the meaning of human existence, and the relationship of science with the humanities.
Wilson notes that humankind is ‘…drowning in information while starving for wisdom.’ He predicts that power will reside in people who are able to access specific data, make timely associations of ideas, think critically about and derive meaning from these associations, and make wise, informed choices.
Wilson explores the biophysical roots of moral behavior, and the material origin of ethics. He believes that science adequately explains religious faith. He acknowledges that religion has historically nourished love, devotion, and hope. He believes religion has enhanced the survival and reproductive potential of humanity, but is entirely a product of the material mind. Virtue, values, ideals, morals and ethics have evolved because their related behaviors have enhanced species survival and reproduction. ‘True character,’ he writes, ‘arises from a deeper well than religion.’
He identifies the key problem facing humanity: how to bring a better quality of life to a world population of 8 billion or more without destroying the environment. He feels that biodiversity must be preserved while we learn to use it and come to understand what it means to humanity.
Science needs to test (and confirm or disprove) every assumption about the human condition. According to Wilson, nature and science ultimately hold the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual well-being.