Re: Biological Basis of Morality

GBurch1 (
Sat, 16 May 1998 07:10:32 EDT

In a message dated 98-05-05 17:06:09 EDT, Keith Ellis wrote:

> Neat article by E.O. Wilson:

I read this last night. Thanks for the reference, Keith. This is a very good
article and primed my appetite even more to read Wilson's new book,
"Consilience" (just as soon as I finish David Brin's "The Transparent Society"
and Jim Halperin's "The First Immortal" -- which I need to do before I'm on
the same podium with them in 2 weeks!).

I was also fascinated by the interview with Wilson I found at the Atlantic's
website. Wilson seems to be on the same wavelength as many of us here; that
we are on the verge of a "New Enlightenment". He very explicitly states that
the best course for our civilization is a conscious revisitation of the
program of the Enlightenment of the 18th Century. However, I found his deep
biological conservatism quite surprising. Wilson states quite explicitly that
he expects genetic alteration of the human form to stop at the eradication of
disease, that human progress will, for some unstated reasons, slow down, that
we will become engrossed with an immutable "human nature" and that we will not
pursue space colonization. All these ideas seem utterly inconsistent with his
clear view of the evolutionary basis of human nature and also incompatible
with the Enlightenment's valuation of an ideal of progress. Has anyone read
"Consilience" yet and, if so, does he rationalize this surprising conservatism

Greg Burch <>----<>
Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must
be driven into practice with courageous impatience."