Like Consilience, The Meaning of Human Existence argues strongly that the humanities need science (in order to have something real about which to speak) and science needs the humanities (to offer some sort of human meaning to external reality).
The humanities address in fine detail all the ways human beings relate to one another and to the environment, the latter including plants and animals of aesthetic and practical importance. Science addresses everything else. The self-contained worldview of the humanities describes the human condition—but not why it is the one thing and not another. The scientific worldview is vastly larger. It encompasses the meaning of human existence—the general principles of the human condition, where the species fits in the Universe, and why it exists in the first place.
When noted biologist and public intellectual E.O. Wilson visited the Grist offices touting his new book The Meaning of Human Existence, we took the opportunity to ask him: Well? What is it?
What followed was a deep and often funny conversation about who we are, where we came from, and why Interstellar is a poor example of melding science with the humanities (burn, Nolans). Oh, and Mr. Wilson’s also got some heady notions about where both our species and the planet are headed. Watch the video to have your mind blown.
Production: Daniel Penner
Music: "I Wish" by Peter Fox Simon
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There is never an easy answer for the meaning of human existence either in the domain of religion or science...but with the insights of Edward O. Wilson, one may be given a few clues to approach this puzzling philosophical question and his standpoint of multilevel selection in the theory of inclusive fitness. Thought-provoking.