The Meaning of Human Existence

meaning of human existence cover image The Meaning of Human Existence

by Edward O. Wilson
Science, Mind & Matter
Liveright Press
Hardcover, 208 pages

Ordinarily the existential questions addressed here would strike us as sophomoric in the extreme. What is the meaning of life? Do we have free will? Is there a God? But, wait! They are being posed by none other than E. O. Wilson who is, perhaps, the giant among the biologists of our time. In this small volume, Wilson considers these questions with breadth, depth, grace, brilliance and generosity. Of course, much depends upon the Clintonesque qualifier that: “It depends upon what the meaning of ‘meaning’ is.”  Wilson posits “the broader, science-based meaning of human existence” which is, “the capacity to decide, and how and why the capacity came into being, and the consequences that followed.”  His is a lively and accessible argument, but, if you proceed to the Appendix, you might want to be willing to become comfortable with such notions as, “inclusive fitness,” and “allele frequency changes.”