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on 31 July 2001
A short comment on 'The Biophilia Hypothesis'...
Following up from E. O. Wilson's stunningly moving 'Biophilia: the Human Bond With Other Species', this volume takes the reader on a scintillating journey through how we feel about our world. The concept of 'biophilia' - that humans have evolved to affiliate with aspects of our natural environment - is brilliantly developed by a number of authors in their respective essays. The reader 's emotions resonate with the writing, and the reader's brain hums with ideas as the authors continually provoke one to think deeper.
This is a serious volume, and an important one. We would do well do study it, follow it up, and as a result, improve the way we live in our unique world.
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on 18 July 2013
This book manages to represent well the human capacity for an innate longing to living systems. It is portrayed in a western, scientific and comprehensive manner which can occasionally become laborious. The positive effect of this though is that you really get a grasp of the work that has gone into this study and it makes the findings all the more incredible. I found the notion that human beings do have a well formed intimacy with the natural world fascinating, and this biophilia is in us all. The effects on our mental and physical well being is also comprehensively analysed and demonstrates that human beings and nature are basically one and the same and we must do more to reconnect, and in doing so enlighten us all to 'eudaimonia' - to put it simply.

Aside from this book, which I found enlightening, is the reality that in our world there are many actors who find this 'truth' a bitter pill to swallow. But swallow it they must. Read this book, and share it with all those who you love. Peace.
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on 4 July 1999
Human beings are deeply psychologically attached to nature and the sooner we realize that, the better off we'll be. Why are houseplants so popular? Why do so many children's books feature animals as main characters? Why do more Americans visit zoos than sporting events? Why are so many of us worried about rainforests we'll never see firsthand? Unlike the previous two reviewers, I hold that our ties with nature are deep and ancient. We can bury them under concrete but WE CAN'T CUT THEM. As a last word: most of the really happy people I know have a deep relationship with nature or something from nature, such as a pet.
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on 4 June 2013
A complementary book of the first Biophilia book that incorporate new perspectives and explains us the particularities of biophilia hypothesis.
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on 9 October 1998
The great biologist Edward O. Wilson noted that human beings seem to have some constants in what they like in the natural world. Everybody likes the landscape they grew up in, but there appears to be a surprising consensus, at least among men, in favor of landscape with these features: grassy parklands with intermittent trees, water, high points providing vistas across a complex landscape, and the ability to see but not be seen. Researchers believe that this represents an inborn affinity toward the superb hunting grounds in which humans evolved in East Africa. From this work, Wilson announced the existence of biophilia, the innate human love of nature, and asserted that this means we should Save the Rainforests (home to most of the species of Wilson's beloved ants).
As much as I admire Wilson, I have to point out that his political argument is absolutely not supported by this research, which demonstrates not that humans like all forms of nature but that they have strong opinions about which landscapes they prefer. Reread the description of the consensus pleasurable landscape: does it remind you of anything that modern humans all around the world spend billions upon? Yup, what we males really have an innate affinity for are golf courses. In fact, we probably have an innate aversion toward rainforests, with their snakes, bugs, and lack of sunlight. Humans have largely avoided rainforests throughout our history, and today rainforests are much more popular on the Upper West Side of Manhattan than in the Amazon.
None of this implies that we shouldn't Save The Rainforests
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on 29 May 1999
In Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectual's Abuse of Science, postmodernists are taken to task for distorting physics and math through poetic license that says nothing and means nothing. Edward O. Wilson likewise has criticized postmodernists for their attacks on science and Western knowledge, and now we have the evolutionists stooping to the same distortions of logic and clear thinking in pursuit of personal agendas to resurrect a new religion of nature. In the book The Biophilia Hypothesis (henceforth BioHyp) we can clearly delineate between the evolutionary observations of our past and what it should mean to us today. This book merges evolutionary knowledge of our environment for survival, with an ethic of deep ecology that is as befuddling and lacking in coherence as anything I have previously seen written by those who claim to be on the side of neo-Darwinist empiricism. But we should all recognize that it is easy, even for true empiricists, to slip into quasi-religious cults even while appearing to embrace the principles of science. Since this book does not have any coherence, aside from making some rather bland connection between how humans interact with nature which I accept but fail to see as profound, I will take a few of the most egregiously inept statements in the book to pull the rug out from under their proposed paradigm.
This book tries to equate affiliation with nature with the essence of a good life that has meaning. Granted, many aspects of human nature go into the make-up of our beings, including: the need to create, observe nature, have sex, accumulate and show off our amassed wealth, dominance over others, athleticism, gathering and enjoying food, AND competition with other human groups including warfare and genocide. Yes, along with a love of nature humans also have a blood lust that these authors all know exists but fail to address in this book. Another quasi-religious group of scientists could easily conjure up a new natural paradigm based on warfare (perhaps like the Spartans) and be equally content with a new culture based on love of animals but hatred of other humans (perhaps the genophilia hypothesis?).
"The biophilia hypothesis necessarily involves a number of challenging, indeed daunting, assertions. Among these is the suggestion that the human inclination to affiliate with life and lifelike process is: 1) Inherent (that is, biologically based); 2) Part of our species' evolutionary heritage; 3) Associated with human competitive advantage and genetic fitness; 4) Likely to increase the possibility for achieving individual meaning and personal fulfillment; and 5) The self-interested basis for a human ethic of care and conservation of nature, most especially the diversity of life." [20]
Assertions 1,2 and 3 I have no problem with, they are simple evolutionary statements. However I take strong issue with 4 and 5. Lets rephrase 4: "[T]he inclination to affiliate with life . . . is [l]ikely to increase the possibility for achieving individual meaning and personal fulfillment." Let us merely rephrase it to read, "The inclination for humans to commit genocide is likely to increase the possibility for achieving individual meaning and personal fulfillment." I contend that genocide and group cohesiveness are in fact far more powerful emotions than our need of love for nature. And yet we have been able to subdue this emotion quite nicely by introducing incentives in cultures to forego blood-letting for other more valuable past times. Likewise, BioHyp may improve our urban environment by paying more attention to planting trees and providing for some bird sanctuaries, but I would contend that the average urban dweller is far more impacted by daily road rage than they are sensitive to the number of animals and fauna they observe on their journey to work. That is, hostility to other humans who may have offended me carry a much greater burden on my temperament than seeing a squirrel climb up the tree as I walk to my garage.
Assertion 5 above, in order to be true, must show that an extreme caring and conservation for nature, one that must reduce the average material wealth of humans while also reducing the number of humans, is of real benefit to humans: that is, it is a good in itself, to all humans! Does this hold for those who will not be born? For those who will die on the way to the emergency room because we have reverted back to bicycles or horse and buggies? Don't get me wrong. I am not an egalitarian that thinks "banning guns to save just one child is reason enough to give up our constitutional rights." Its just that no group or philosophy can make the above statement to simplistically and universally alter our national or humans agenda. They are calling for a ecological Jihad that is not warranted. Our culture cannot be cut from whole cloth based on such simplistic assertions. They are made up of a myriad of compromises and constraints that do not fall easily into any one fundamental of human nature as espoused in BioHyp.
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