E.O. Wilson’s Bold Vision to Save the World- National Geographic Interview

PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT CLARK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT CLARK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The great evolutionary biologist, EO Wilson, has a new book out, titled, THE MEANING OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. Speaking about it in this 3 page, frank but nakedly optimistic interview for National Geographic, Wilson makes a simple but powerful point about why, perhaps, we are not hot-wired to ruin our race and our planet: because we make art…

“…what will be of enduring interest, because it’s going to be unique and continuous in its creativity, is the humanities and in particular the creative arts. I realize that may sound strange, because, after all, scientific knowledge is still doubling every 10 to 20 years, carried forward by the immensity of the digital age and the hyperconnectivity of all disciplines and the people within them.

But suppose there were aliens, and they sent in their robots maybe 200 to 300 years from now, which is not even an eyeblink in the geological history of the Earth. And they begin to study surreptitiously what we’re up to. What would they be interested in? Not our science.

Whereas the human species originated only about 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, their own civilizations could have originated a million or even a hundred million years ago, when dinosaurs were on Earth. They’ve had all this time to perfect the generalities of the physical science, and probably biological science too. So what would they be interested in?

They’d be interested in the humanities. How the human mind and emotions work, and what the history of the achievements of that particular organ have been over the brief history of this planet. The humanities are like the soul of humanity, the thing we produced that is probably absolutely unique in the universe. The creativity of humanity is guaranteed in the humanities. It is not guaranteed in the sciences. I realize I’m beginning to slip off the cliff of science fiction here, but I hope I made my point.”

You can read the rest of the interview here. It’s short, rich in ideas, and though blunt, still gives you a little shot of optimism during this profoundly complicated time in history.

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