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Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (Paperback, New edition)

By Wilson, Edward O.

Argues for the fundamental unity of all knowledge and the need to search for consilience : the composition of the principles governing every branch of learning. The author shows how our rise in intellectual mastery is rooted in an ancient Greek concept at its zenith during the En... read full description below.

ISBN 9780349111124
Barcode 9780349111124
Published 21 January 2000 by Little, Brown Book Group
Format Paperback, New edition
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Full details for this title

ISBN-13 9780349111124
ISBN-10 034911112X
Stock Out of stock
Status Not currently available
Publisher Little, Brown Book Group
Imprint Abacus
Publication Date 21 January 2000
International Publication Date 4 November 1999
Publication Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Format Paperback, New edition
Edition New edition
Author(s) By Wilson, Edward O.
Category Award Winning
Popular Science
Award Winning Adult's Titles
Number of Pages 384
Dimensions Width: 126mm
Height: 196mm
Spine: 24mm
Weight 260g
Interest Age General Audience
Reading Age General Audience
Library of Congress Knowledge, Theory of, History
NBS Text Popular Science
ONIX Text General/trade
Dewey Code 001.01
Catalogue Code 184275

Description of this Book

In this work, the author argues for the fundamental unity of all knowledge and the need to search for what he calls consilience , the composition of the principles governing every branch of learning. Edward O. Wilson, pioneer of sociobiology and biodiversity, breaks from the conventions of current thinking. He shows how our explosive rise in intellectual mastery of the truths of our universe has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos vision. This vision found its apogee in the Age of Enlightenment, then gradually was lost in the increasing fragmentation and specialization of knowledge in the last two centuries. Professor Wilson shows why the goals of the original Enlightenment are surging back to life, why they are reappearing on the very frontiers of science and humanisitc scholarship, and how they are beginning to sketch themselves as the blueprint of our world.

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Awards, Reviews & Star Ratings

Awards Short-listed for Rhone Poulenc General Prize for Science Books 1999
NZ Review The first great ecologist, a pioneer in sociobiology and biodiversity.a giant among popularisers of science - Bryan Appleyard on Edward O Wilson, in THE INDEPENDENT * There's a new Darwin. His name is Edward O Wilson. - Tom Wolfe
UK Review The title of this book is Wilson's term for the idea that all aspects of learning are underpinned by a small number of natural laws. This is a breathtaking attempt to explain all of human learning in one package, presented with the clarity to be expected of a double Pulitzer Prize winner. A superb harbinger for the 21st century. (Kirkus UK)
US Review A tour de force from a scholar for whom such tours are par for the course. Wilson, who sowed the seeds of sociobiology decades ago, expands his agenda to the whole of human learning and behavior. All, in both the realms of art and science, can be reduced to a common set of unifying principles, or consilience. All can be subsumed under the basic laws of physics and their offspring in chemistry and biology. For instance, the reductionist new genetics and molecular biology have revolutionized our understanding of biology in terms of evolution, human development, and the brain as the vehicle of human behavior. Further, Wilson restates his notion of the co-evolution of genes and culture, but it is here that his argument is weakest, based on the premise that we are genetically programmed toward certain archetypal forms and themes which he finds in primitive and ancient art but which are dubiously applicable in the modern world. Wilson's arguments on achieving consilience in the humanities will no doubt rile many of the faithful in these fields. For example, he rails against economists for their arid mathematical models that pay no heed to the irrational ways humans behave and he pretty well damns anyone who espouses cultural relativism; and he has very little good to say about philosophers in general. On the other hand, he writes knowledgeably about mind, making it clear that emotion is inextricably tied to reason, and his distinction between religion and ethics is well argued. In the end, Wilson invites scholars to explore the gaps in knowledge, as well as move toward synthesis: We are drowning in information, he says, while starving for wisdom. He also pulls out all the stops on the future of the biosphere, noting the potential for changing our genetic make-up. No doubt many scholars will accuse Wilson of simplistic arguments, errors, and distortions. But how many have the guts to venture beyond the boundaries of their specialty to make a case for unity? For that mason alone, Wilson's proposal merits the attention and debate of the broad community of scholars. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author's Bio

Edward O Wilson is Curator in Entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard with which he has been connected since 1953. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, for ON HUMAN NATURE and THE ANTS.

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