The Social Conquest of Earth

The Social Conquest of Earth

by Edward O. Wilson
The Social Conquest of Earth

The Social Conquest of Earth

by Edward O. Wilson


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New York Times Bestseller and Notable Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year (Nonfiction)
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence (Nonfiction)

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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780871403636
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 04/15/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 311,397
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Edward O. Wilson (1929-2021) was the author of more than thirty books, including AnthillLetters to a Young Scientist, and The Conquest of Nature. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, Wilson was a professor emeritus at Harvard University and lived with his wife in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

I Why Does Advanced Social Life Exist?

1 The Human Condition 7

II Where Do We Come From?

2 The Two Paths to Conquest 13

3 The Approach 21

4 The Arrival 33

5 Threading the Evolutionary Maze 45

6 The Creative Forces 49

7 Tribalism Is a Fundamental Human Trait 57

8 War as Humanity's Hereditary Curse 62

9 The Breakout 77

10 The Creative Explosion 85

11 The Sprint to Civilization 97

III How Social Insects Conquered the Invertebrate World

12 The Invention of Eusociality 109

13 Inventions That Advanced the Social Insects 120

IV The Forces of Social Evolution

14 The Scientific Dilemma of Rarity 133

15 Insect Altruism and Eusociality Explained 139

16 Insects Take the Giant Leap 148

17 How Natural Selection Creates Social Instincts 158

18 The Forces of Social Evolution 166

19 The Emergence of a New Theory of Eusociality 183

V What Are We?

20 What Is Human Nature? 191

21 How Culture Evolved 212

22 The Origins of Language 225

23 The Evolution of Cultural Variation 236

24 The Origins of Morality and Honor 241

25 The Origins of Religion 255

26 The Origins of the Creative Arts 268

VI Where Are We Going?

27 A New Enlightenment 287

Acknowledgments 301

References 303

Index 327

What People are Saying About This

Oliver Sacks

The Social Conquest of Earth is a huge, deep, thrilling work, presenting a radically new but cautiously hopeful view of human evolution, human nature, and human society. No one but E. O. Wilson could bring together such a brilliant synthesis of biology and the humanities, to shed light on the origins of language, religion, art, and all of human culture.

James D. Watson

A monumental exploration of the biological origins of the Human Condition!

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