E. O. Wilson

American biologist, naturalist, and writer (1929–2021)
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Edward Osborne Wilson (June 10, 1929 – December 26, 2021) was an American biologist, naturalist and author. He was an entomologist who studied ants, but to the public he is known for sociobiology, biodiversity and conservation.

E. O. Wilson
Wilson in 2003
Edward Osborne Wilson

(1929-06-10)June 10, 1929
DiedDecember 26, 2021(2021-12-26) (aged 92)
Alma materUniversity of Alabama
Harvard University
Known forbiodiversity, sociobiology, evolution, ants
AwardsPulitzer Prize (1979)
Crafoord Prize (1990)
Pulitzer Prize (1991)
Kistler Prize (2000)
Nierenberg Prize (2001)
Scientific career
InstitutionsHarvard University

Wilson's writing has been very influential. He was a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction. He was known for his role as "the father of sociobiology", his environmentalism, and his secular humanist and deist ideas on religion and ethics.[1]

He worked at Harvard University, and was a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He was a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.[2][3] He was awarded the National Medal of Science (1977), and the Crafoord Prize (1990), which recognizes research in scientific fields not eligible for the Nobel Prize.



Wilson's work (and books) fell into at least four categories:

  1. Ants. He was the twentieth century's leading expert on these insects.
  2. Sociobiology. He created the term and wrote the book. He applies evolution and genetics to the study of human nature.[4][5] This part of his work has been highly controversial. The term is not as often used as it was before. The idea of evolutionary psychology is becoming more popular.
  3. Biodiversity and conservation. This part of his work is agreed by many other experts.
  4. Unity of knowledge. He argues that all knowledge – including humanities and social sciences – should be a kind of unified science. This is a philosophical view which has been put forward several times before.[5]p228

Wilson died on December 26, 2021 in Burlington, Massachusetts at the age of 92.[6]

  • 1967. The theory of island biogeography, with Robert MacArthur. Princeton University Press. 2001 reprint: ISBN 0-691-08836-5
  • 1971. The insect societies. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-45490-1
  • 1975. Sociobiology: the new synthesis. Harvard University Press. 25th anniversary edition, 2000: ISBN 0-674-00089-7
  • 1979. On human nature. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01638-6
  • 1981. Genes, mind and culture: the coevolutionary process. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-34475-8
  • 1983. Promethean fire: reflections on the origin of mind. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-71445-8
  • 1984. Biophilia, Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-07441-6
  • 1990. Success and dominance in ecosystems: the case of the social insects. Inter-Research. ISSN 0932-2205
  • 1990. The Ants, with Bert Hölldobler. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-04075-9, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
  • 1992. The diversity of life Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-21298-3; The diversity of life: special edition. ISBN 0-674-21299-1
  • 1993. The biophilia hypothesis, with Stephen R. Kellert. Shearwater Books. ISBN 1-55963-148-1
  • 1994. Journey to the ants: a story of scientific exploration, with Bert Hölldobler. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-48525-4,
  • 1994. Naturalist. Shearwater Books. ISBN 1-55963-288-7
  • 1996. In search of nature, with Laura Simonds Southworth. Shearwater Books. ISBN 1-55963-215-1
  • 1998. Consilience: the unity of knowledge. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-45077-7
  • 2002. The future of life, Knopf. ISBN 0-679-45078-5
  • 2003. Pheidole in the New World: a dominant, hyperdiverse ant genus. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00293-8
  • 2005. From so simple a beginning: Darwin's four great books. W.W. Norton, New York. Edited, with introductions by Edward O. Wilson.
  • 2006. The creation: an appeal to save life on Earth. W.W. Norton, New York. ISBN 978-0-393-06217-5
  • 2006. Nature revealed: selected writings 1949-2006. ISBN 0-8018-8329-6
  • 2009. The Superorganism: the beauty, elegance, and strangeness of insect societies, with Bert Hölldobler. W.W. Norton, New York. ISBN 978-0-393-06704-0
  • 2010. Anthill: a novel. W.W. Norton, New York. ISBN 978-0-393-07119-1
  • 2010. Kingdom of Ants: Jose Celestino Mutis and the dawn of natural history in the New World, with José María Gómez Durán. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
  • 2011. The Leafcutter Ants: civilization by instinct, with Bert Hölldobler. W.W. Norton, New York. ISBN 978-0-393-33868-3
  • 2012. The Social Conquest of Earth. Liveright, New York. ISBN 978-0-87140-413-8
  • 2014. Letters to a Young Scientist. Liveright. ISBN 0871403854
  • 2014. A Window on Eternity: A Biologist's Walk Through Gorongosa National Park. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1476747415
  • 2014. The Meaning of Human Existence. Liveright. ISBN 0871401002
  • 2016. Half-Earth. Liveright. ISBN 978-1-63149-082-8
  • 2017. The Origins of Creativity. Liveright. ISBN 978-1-63149-318-8


  1. Novacek, Michael J. (2001). "Lifetime achievement: E.O. Wilson". CNN.com. Archived from the original on 2006-10-14. Retrieved 2006-11-08.
  2. "E.O. Wilson Profile" - Comprehensive list of Degrees, Awards and Positions
  3. Archive.org; E. O. Wilson biography
  4. Alexander R.D. 1979. Darwinism and human affairs. University of Wisconsin Press, p65. ISBN 0-295-95901-0
  5. 5.0 5.1 Stevenson, Leslie and Haberman, David L. 2009. Ten theories of human nature. 5th ed, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-536825-3. Chapter 10: Darwinian theories of human nature. p226–230
  6. Zimmer, Carl (2021-12-27). "E.O. Wilson, a Pioneer of Evolutionary Biology, Dies at 92". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-12-27.