Edward Osborn Wilson ( b. 1929, Birmingham AL)

  • Former Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University
  • National Medal of Science
  • Currently Pellegrino Research Professor in Entomology, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
  • Also Honorary Curator in Entomology at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology

[ Milestones ] [ Links ] [Outline of Consilience ]

Selected Bibliography



In a Darwinian sense the organism does not live for itself. Its primary function is not even to reproduce other organisms; it reproduces genes, and it serves as their temporary carrier... Samuel Butler's famous aphorism, that the chicken is only an egg's way of making another egg, has been modernized: The organism is only DNA's way of making more DNA. (Sociobiology 1)

altruism . . . [is] self-destructive behavior performed for the benefit of others. (ibid)

Science and technology, combined with a lack of self-understanding and a Paleolithic obstinacy, brought us to where we are today. Now science and technology, combined with foresight and moral courage, must see us through the bottleneck and out. (The Future of Life)

The pattern of human population growth in the 20th century was more bacterial than primate. (ibid)

Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the "environmentalist" view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view. (ibid)

China deserves close attention, not just as the unsteady giant whose missteps can rock the world, but also because it is so far advanced along the path to which the rest of humanity seems inexorably headed. If China solves its problems, the lessons learned can be applied elsewhere. (ibid)

. . . environmentalism. . . . is the guiding principle of those devoted to the health of the planet. But it is not yet a general worldview, evidently not yet compelling enough to distract many people away from the primal diversions of sport, politics, religion, and private wealth. . . . The relative indifference to the environment springs, I believe, from deep within human nature. . . . We are innately inclined to ignore any distant possibility not yet requiring examination. It is a hardwired part of our Paleolithic heritage. (ibid)


Assembled by David Fenimore, University of Nevada, Reno. February 2002