The March Philosophy Book of the Month is Final Notice by Van Fleisher. Discuss Final Notice now.

The April Philosophy Book of the Month is The Unbound Soul by Richard L. Haight

Overall Rating of "The Meaning of Human Existence"

Discuss the February 2015 philosophy book of the month, The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson.

How do you rate The Meaning of Human Existence?

1 star - poor, recommend against reading it
No votes
2 stars - fair, okay
3 stars - good, recommend it
4 stars - excellent, amazing
No votes
Total votes: 12

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Re: Overall Rating of "The Meaning of Human Existence"

Post by Wilson » October 10th, 2015, 7:57 pm

I didn't read this book, although I did read The Social Conquest of Earth. With regard to the argument between Wilson and Dawkins about group selection, I come down strongly on the side of Wilson, and here's the explanation. Dawkins seems to be tied to the idea that evolution is strictly a matter of spontaneous mutations being propagated or failing based on the effects they produce. And that is certainly the major driver of major changes. But there's also a huge effect from the spreading of existing mutations through a population - in other words, the increasing frequency of existing mutations within a species. And that's what drives group selection, I believe. Personality traits like empathy and tendency to cooperate are directed by a large number of alleles, not just one, and so gradually evolution "finds" the best combination. Thus gradually empathy increased to the ideal point to ensure survival for our hunter-gatherer ancestors - not too little, not too much. That fine tuning - of all sorts of personality and physical traits - is also an important part of evolution.

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Re: Overall Rating of "The Meaning of Human Existence"

Post by Steveroonie » November 8th, 2015, 11:41 am

A pretty good integrative look and book, and yes, comments here about redundancy et. al. were on the mark. Nice to see someone with his background taking up central issues.

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