This ambitious, speculative work won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1978. Edward O. Wilson, professor of science at Harvard University, is probably best known as a proponent for the discipline of sociobiology, which combines biological principles with the social sciences.
"On Human Nature" applies Darwin's evolutionary theory to social organization--to heredity, sex, altruism, religion, aggression--with fascinating conclusions. Wilson points out that since "we are no longer hunter-gatherers who settle disputes with spears, . . . violent aggression is largely obsolete." But instincts can't simply be banished: "We can only work our way around them."
Human beings are a single species, Wilson writes, "one great breeding system through which genes flow and mix in each generation." Thus "hope and pride and not despair are the ultimate legacy of genetic diversity."