What Is Human Nature? Paleolithic Emotions, Medieval Institutions, God-Like Technology

To understand ourselves, our creativity and emotions, we must grapple with our pre-human existence.

Creativity might just be the defining trait that makes us human, says E.O. Wilson, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and acclaimed 'Father of Biodiversity'. But what exactly is the modern Homo sapiens, anyway? Wilson calls us an evolutionary chimera, picking up things from every age without fully transitioning out of any one era. That's why we are a complicated mix of paleolithic emotions, medieval leftovers like banks and religion, and now the latest addition: God-like technology. Those are the influences we know about, but creativity may actually predate our language, writings, and art—Wilson believes it's hundreds of thousands of years older than we assume. How can we discover the deepest roots of what has made us so human? Wilson says the humanities need to up their game and help the sciences unlock our creative origins. E.O. Wilson's new book is The Origins of Creativity.

Time To Update Science's Mobile Army of Metaphors?

“Scientists should think like poets,” says E.O. Wilson, because new metaphors mobilize new thinking.

Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions

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