The Origins of Creativity

Edward O. Wilson. Liveright, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-63149-318-8
Wilson (Half-Earth) makes a case for blending an understanding of the sciences into the humanities in his latest work, raising provocative questions in the process. He ponders what sets humans apart from other hominids and what societal factors may be suppressing the humanities as a field of study, but despite his title’s promise he only provides brief glimpses of answers to his central question. As Wilson is one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, it is not surprising that he focuses so much on the evolutionary history of our species. “Because the creative arts entail a universal, genetic trait, the answer to the question [of what it means to be human] lies in evolutionary biology,” he posits. He argues that the humanities have failed to make enough progress on this front and have lost public support because “they remain largely unaware and uncaring about the evolutionary events of prehistory that created the human mind, which after all created the history on which the humanities focus.” He integrates examples largely from literature and the visual arts to analogize cultural innovation to genetic mutation. Wilson concludes by calling for a “third enlightenment” in which the humanities and the sciences draw more heavily on one another but, even as he professes otherwise, he appears to place far more weight on the latter. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-63149-485-7
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-63149-319-5
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