E O Wilson Consilience Analysis

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One – Consilience

One of the most pertinent and seminal works written on the relationship between the fields of science and literature within the modern age is irrefutably that of E.O Wilson’s Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. Whilst being a biologist, with a speciality in myrmecology, his discussion of methods to unite the sciences, social sciences, and humanities – to describe the synthesis of knowledge across all fields has been hugely influential in literary criticism and theory. Wilson in Consilience argues for “the unification of all knowledge” reaching further in his project of unification than other earlier attempts to align the social sciences and biology under one unified understanding of knowledge. It is interesting to note that Wilson takes this
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Repurposing its focus which “has been the unification of all the forces of nature” to turn the realm of science into a “perfect system of thought” and to “fuse them.” Whilst there is certainly, growing evidence in the sciences that areas such as physics and biology on both the micro and macro level do appear to follow trends and patterns. As such illustrating a certain unity or synthesis of knowledge, it can be seen to be quite a more disparate link to assume the same of larger intellectual systems such as the generalised field of the sciences and the humanities. Although “poets and other writers have been making [similar] conciliatory statements […] for centuries.”

Wilson throughout the text appears to demonstrate a tentative optimism about the eventual unity of knowledge between all fields of enquiry. This can be seen in his statement, that “the greatest enterprise of the mind…always will be the attempted linkage of the sciences and humanities.” Arguing that the current fragmentation of knowledge and “resulting chaos in philosophy” are impressions of the “artefacts of scholarship”, that this supposed ‘chaos’ is due to

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