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Biophilia Paperback – January 31, 1986
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There's more to this unbuttoned and intellectually playful book than its plea for a conservation of ethic and the preservation of animal species in all their diversity. We get, for example, several autobiographical glimpses into the background of Professor Wilson...We see Professor Wilson as a boy growing up in the Florida panhandle...Elsewhere he astonishes us with a description of the mating dance of the male Emperor of Germany bird of paradise, and the degree of genetic congruity between pygmy chimpanzees and Homo Sapiens. (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt New York Times)
E. O. Wilson is the entomologist Curator of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. His science writing for the general public has won him the Pulitzer Prize and his scientific publications have won him the highest honors American science can bestow. He is well equipped to engage a subject dear to nature-lovers which until now has not been identified as a species trait--biophilia. The freshness of Wilson's approach lies in its freedom from the obsessions of the environmentalist movement...While he shares the conservationist ethic of environmentalists, and seeks to impart its practical imperatives, he eschews cultism...Let this highly readable book then be commended to all biophiliacs and technocrats. (Hiram Caton Times Literary Supplement)
The book consists of a set of nine essays. Although they are masterpieces of prose style, they more effectively illustrate Wilson's own biophilia than his contention that biophilia exists as a general human trait...Wilson moves fluidly among minute observations of life forms ranging from leaf-cutter ants to birds of paradise, artfully pausing for a philosophical reflection here and a folksy anecdote there. (John Wilkes Los Angeles Times)
A fine memoir by one of America's foremost evolutionary biologists...erudite, elegant, and poetic (Natural History)
Biophilia is an immensely readable book. Wilson is a master storyteller, skillful at evoking exotic scenes. (Washington Post Book World)
Wilson's own empathy with things illuminates these essays with fresh perceptions of everyday matters...They are masterpieces of prose style. (Los Angeles Times)
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Top Customer Reviews
- Eden Phillpotts
Wilson crafted this book about the "love of life" for a wide-ranging audience. Biophilia begins in journalistic style recounting Wilson's various expeditions to the Amazon river basin in search of elusive species of ants. He describes the scenes in the forest with appeal to all five senses, making it easy to mentally accompany with Wilson upon his tropical trips. The adventurous feel in the opening chapters allows Wilson to demonstrate biophilia instead of describing it. It becomes obvious that biophilia is a major force affecting the way humans react to living organisms. Wilson describes biophilia as the "innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes."
In the middle of Biophilia, Wilson sorts out different time divisions, arguing that the way you organize time creates biases. Wilson holds that most humans divided time according to their own evolution. Humans are not the only species that matter. Bacteria, fungi, protoctists, and plants have been around far longer than Homo sapiens, and humans depend on these other kingdoms for survival. This argument allows Wilson to build a platform from which to apply his notion of biophilia.
Wilson alludes to a "conservation ethic" throughout the first half of the book of which he makes his readers aware in later chapters of Biophilia. Wilson's term "conservation ethic" describes what humans need to do because of biophilia. Clear evidence shows that humans depend on other living organisms for survival. Wilson argues that humans need to care for natural resources if we want to remain alive.Read more ›
I expected this book to be an onslaught of scientific explanations and studies, but this was clearly not the case. Wilson writes about his worldly field biology travels with such rich, sensory language. It's actually fun to read.
In no section of the book does he thoroughly or methodically explain the construct of biophilia in a textbook fashion. Instead, he writes his very personal memoirs and takes us through rain forests and other areas teeming with tropical life. For readers familiar with Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Wilson writes as if "Biophilia" were one of the Endless, who are anthropomorphic personifications of ideas and states of human consciousness. In biophilia, Wilson writes a story (his own) that is INTENSELY biophilia THEMED, while not necessarily about biophilia explicitly.
Edward Wilson is a two time pulitzer prize winner, and a great writer at that. You'll be surprised how readable yet informative and entertaining this book is.
Wilson is an entymologist - specifically a myrmecologist (an expert on ants). Though it sounds like a narrow, obscure field, studying the diversity of ant species and habitats has taken Wilson all over the globe and given him a broad perspective that has allowed him to make valuable contributions to science. In "Biophilia," we wander with Wilson from jungle to jungle, and back to Wilson's boyhood in the rural South - revelling in the beauty and wonder of the natural world all the while.
Ever the scientist (and a Harvard-educated one at that), Wilson does make a rational appeal for the protection of the environment - citing, for example, the potential for undiscovered sources of food and medicine in the planet's (as of now) rich botanical diversity. But it's through his excellent, almost poetic prose that Wilson's love of the biosphere, concern for the planet, and enthusiasm for the diversity of life are made contagious.
It is a book that does great service to science in general; biology in particular; and, especially the wonderful variety in our planet. You can almost feel the beauty of the living fauna, the insects, and the world that Edward Wilson describes.
The book weaves in and out between poetry, science and the environment.
The writing is lyrical.
What can I say? This book is a joy to read.
Read it, and go out and rediscover the world.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
lovely and fascinating book. a must read for naturalists, ecologists & lovers of nature...Published 7 days ago by Timothy Rodrigues
Edward O. Wilson is quite amazing in his love for this planet.Published 9 months ago by Glenda K. Turner
Beautifully unique musings on the philosophy of human connection with nature.Published 9 months ago by Alexa