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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index W > Edward O. Wilson Quotes > Gene

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Edward O. Wilson
(10 Jun 1929 - )

American biologist known for his study of ants. He is an active environmentalist.


Edward O. Wilson Quotes on Gene (11 quotes)

>> Click for 40 Science Quotes by Edward O. Wilson

>> Click for Edward O. Wilson Quotes on | Biology | Diversity | Evolution | Genetics | Knowledge | Organism | Population | Species |

Biology is a science of three dimensions. The first is the study of each species across all levels of biological organization, molecule to cell to organism to population to ecosystem. The second dimension is the diversity of all species in the biosphere. The third dimension is the history of each species in turn, comprising both its genetic evolution and the environmental change that drove the evolution. Biology, by growing in all three dimensions, is progressing toward unification and will continue to do so.
— Edward O. Wilson
In 'Systematics and the Future of Biology', Systematics and the Origin of Species: on Ernst Mayr's 100th anniversary, Volume 102, Issues 22-26 (2005), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Biology (150)  |  Biosphere (10)  |  Cell (125)  |  Change (291)  |  Dimension (26)  |  Diversity (46)  |  Ecosystem (21)  |  Environment (138)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Genetics (98)  |  Growth (111)  |  Molecule (125)  |  Organism (126)  |  Organization (79)  |  Population (71)  |  Progress (317)  |  Species (181)  |  Study (331)  |  Unification (9)

Can the cultural evolution of higher ethical values gain a direction and momentum of its own and completely replace genetic evolution? I think not. The genes hold culture an a leash. The leash is very long, but inevitably values will be constrained in accordance with their effects in the human gene pool. The brain is a product of evolution. Human behaviour—like the deepest capacities for emotional response which drive and guide it—is the circuitous technique by which human genetic material has been and will be kept intact. Morality has no other demonstrable ultimate function.
— Edward O. Wilson
In On Human Nature (1978), 167. In William Andrew Rottschaefer, The Biology and Psychology of Moral Agency (1998), 58.
Science quotes on:  |  Culture (85)  |  Gene (68)

How can altruism, which by definition reduces personal fitness, possibly evolve by natural selection? The answer is kinship: if the genes causing the altruism are shared by two organisms because of common descent, and if the altruistic act by one organism increases the joint contribution of these genes to the next generation, the propensity to altruism will spread through the gene pool. This occurs even though the altruist makes less of a solitary contribution to the gene pool as the price of its altruistic act.
— Edward O. Wilson
In Sociobiology (1975), 3-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Altruism (7)  |  Definition (152)  |  Fitness (7)  |  Gene (68)  |  Generation (111)  |  Kin (6)  |  Natural Selection (79)  |  Organism (126)  |  Propensity (7)

If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.
— Edward O. Wilson
In Rosemarie Jarski, Words From The Wise (2007), 269. [Contact webmaster if you know the primary print source.]
Science quotes on:  |  Chaos (63)  |  Collapse (16)  |  Disappear (22)  |  Environment (138)  |  Equilibrium (16)  |  Insect (57)  |  Mankind (196)  |  World (667)

In a purely technical sense, each species of higher organism—beetle, moss, and so forth, is richer in information than a Caravaggio painting, Mozart symphony, or any other great work of art. Consider the typical case of the house mouse, Mus musculus. Each of its cells contains four strings of DNA, each of which comprises about a billion nucleotide pairs organized into a hundred thousand structural nucleotide pairs, organized into a hundred thousand structural genes. … The full information therein, if translated into ordinary-sized printed letters, would just about fill all 15 editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica published since 1768.
— Edward O. Wilson
'The Biological Diversity Crisis: A Challenge to Science', Issues in Science and Technology (Fall 1985), 2:1, 22. Reprinted in Nature Revealed: Selected Writings, 1949-2006 (2006), 622.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (205)  |  Beetle (8)  |  Moss (8)  |  Organism (126)  |  Painting (24)

In the process of natural selection, then, any device that can insert a higher proportion of certain genes into subsequent generations will come to characterize the species.
— Edward O. Wilson
'The Morality of the Gene'.; Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975, 1980), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Evolution (482)  |  Gene (68)  |  Genetics (98)  |  Natural Selection (79)  |  Species (181)

No species … possesses a purpose beyond the imperatives created by genetic history … The human mind is a device for survival and reproduction, and reason is just one of its various techniques.
— Edward O. Wilson
'Dilemma'. On Human Nature (1978, 1979), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Genetics (98)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Reason (330)  |  Reproduction (57)  |  Species (181)  |  Survival (49)

The elements of human nature are the learning rules, emotional reinforcers, and hormonal feedback loops that guide the development of social behaviour into certain channels as opposed to others. Human nature is not just the array of outcomes attained in existing societies. It is also the potential array that might be achieved through conscious design by future societies. By looking over the realized social systems of hundreds of animal species and deriving the principles by which these systems have evolved, we can be certain that all human choices represent only a tiny subset of those theoretically possible. Human nature is, moreover, a hodgepodge of special genetic adaptations to an environment largely vanished, the world of the Ice­Age hunter-gatherer.
— Edward O. Wilson
In On Human Nature (1978), 196.
Science quotes on:  |  Adaptation (40)  |  Emotion (62)  |  Feedback (8)  |  Gene (68)  |  Hormone (7)  |  Human Nature (51)  |  Hunter-Gatherer (2)  |  Ice Age (7)  |  Rule (135)  |  Society (188)

The worst thing that will probably happen—in fact is already well underway—is not energy depletion, economic collapse, conventional war, or the expansion of totalitarian governments. As terrible as these catastrophes would be for us, they can be repaired in a few generations. The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.
— Edward O. Wilson
Biophilia (1984), 121.(1990), 182.
Science quotes on:  |  Catastrophe (17)  |  Collapse (16)  |  Depletion (3)  |  Descendant (12)  |  Destruction (80)  |  Diversity (46)  |  Economics (30)  |  Energy (185)  |  Extinction (55)  |  Folly (27)  |  Forgive (6)  |  Generation (111)  |  Genetics (98)  |  Government (85)  |  Habitat (10)  |  Happen (63)  |  Process (201)  |  Repair (7)  |  Totalitarian (6)  |  Worst (14)

To be anthropocentric is to remain unaware of the limits of human nature, the significance of biological processes underlying human behavior, and the deeper meaning of long-term genetic evolution.
— Edward O. Wilson
Tanner Lecture on Human Values, University of Michigan, 'Comparative Social Theory' (30 Mar 1979).
Science quotes on:  |  Biology (150)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Genetics (98)  |  Human Behavior (4)  |  Human Nature (51)  |  Limit (86)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Process (201)  |  Remain (77)  |  Significance (60)  |  Unaware (3)  |  Underlying (14)

We are compelled to drive toward total knowledge, right down to the levels of the neuron and the gene. When we have progressed enough to explain ourselves in these mechanistic terms...the result might be hard to accept.
— Edward O. Wilson
'Man: From Sociobiology to Sociology'. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975, 1980), 301.
Science quotes on:  |  Gene (68)  |  Genetics (98)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Neuron (9)  |  Progress (317)


See also:
  • 10 Jun - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Wilson's birth.
  • Edward O. Wilson - “Burning a Renaissance Painting to Cook a Meal” illustrated quote - Medium 500px
  • Edward O. Wilson - “Burning a Renaissance Painting to Cook a Meal” illustrated quote - Large 800px
  • Naturalist, by Edward O. Wilson. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Edward O. Wilson.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
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- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
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Charles Babbage
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Winston Churchill
- 80 -
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Bible
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- 70 -
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- 60 -
Francis Galton
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- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
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- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
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Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
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Archimedes
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- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
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Richard Feynman
James Hutton
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- 20 -
Carl Sagan
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