opportunity to wander in relatively unhumanizedrnenvirons, rather than the ordinaryrnprocesses of socialization, thatrnforged his temperament.rnAs the consumerist society, inereasinglvrnconcentrated in megalopolises thatrndestroy wilderness and mask the heavens,rngrows, such a childhood becomesrnmore and more out of reach. Even duringrnthe 1930’s, a child’s life spent in closerncontact with nature was not the norm.rnMost children were caught up in the processrnthat turned them into butchers,rnbakers, and candlestick makers—humanrnbeings aspiring to nothing more thanrnli’es of cjuict desperation. Wilsonrnslipped the noose, his psyche suffusedrnwith what he terms “biophilia,” the lovernof life. The human mind, he argues, isrnshaped “b- relatively few decisive configurations.rn. . . The process is strongest inrnchildren, and to some extent it programsrnthe trajectory of their lives.” For him, therndceisi’e factor was wild nature. In a culturernthat, as Wilson opines, perches onrnthe precipice of ecocatastrophe, one canrnonl’ wonder what will happen if we dornnot, somehow, reintroduce all our children,rnrich and poor, to the natural worid.rnChurch, school, and the Boy Scoutsrnwere also formative influences. ThoughrnWilson is a professed materialist, I findrnin his work avowals that are remarkablyrnspiritual. For one thing, he does not believernthat science and religion are antagonistic.rnFor another, his love of life, thenrnand now, articulates itself in terms ofrnbiblical language, as in Part Two, wherernhe expresses his reflections on the evolutionar-rnhpothesis in terms of the fourthrnda’ of the Creation: “Let the watersrnteem with countless living creatures, andrnlet birds fly above the earth across thernault of I leaven.” What is singularly importantrnabout this statement is the valuernjudgment: life is good, of inherent worth,rnnot just in terms of human schemes.rn”Love the organisms for themselvesrnfirst.”rnSchool, too, plavcd a role in the youngrnman’s life, primarilv the Gulf Coast MilitarrnAcademy (GCMA) and the Universitrnof Alabama (which, he remarks,rn”sacd mc”). I find a fine, if dry, humorrnin Wilson’s writing, as in the remark thatrn”GCMA was a carefullv planned nightmarernengineered for the betterment ofrnthe untutored and undisciplined.” Thernlessons of GCMA took, teaching Wilsonrna respect for (legitimate) authority, traditionalrninstitutions, and civility. It is goodrnfor us to be reminded of the virtues ofrnthe military regimen, which taught Wilson,rnamong other things, a regard “for altruismrnand devotion to duty.” AlthoughrnI am an honorably discharged veteran ofrnthe Vietnam era, my own memories ofrnthe military were challenged by Wilson’s,rnhelping to restore an intellectualrnbalance—itself a virtue of first rank.rnFinally, the Boy Scouts, a venerablerninstitution (also one that has come underrna sometimes withering fire during recentrnpolitical correctness wars) that Wilsonrndiscusses in a chapter aptly titled “TornDo My Duty,” played its part. Thosernwho were Scouts will know how to finishrnthe pledge, and can perhaps intuit therninfluence the Scouts had on Wilson. Hernobserves that to this day he can recite thernScout Oath, with no more of a jog tornmemory than raising his right hand inrnthe appropriate fashion. There is a marvelousrnphotograph (among many others)rnof Wilson as an Eagle Scout (c. 1944),rnchest bedecked with merit badges, ineludingrnall that were awarded in the arearnof natural history. Again, Wilson helpsrnremind us of both the importance andrnfallibility of our institution. Judged byrntoday’s standards, the Scouts of his timernwere imperfect; yet they now admit allrnyoung men, regardless of race. And perhapsrnmore progress awaits another generation.rnIshall pass quickly over the second partrnof Naturalist, noting only a few dominantrnthemes. One is that of humility. Irnam struck by the difference between therngreatness of Wilson’s achievements andrnhis self-assessment. He has contributedrncutting-edge hypotheses and research onrna wide variety of scientific fronts, includingrnisland biogeography, sociobiology,rnand conservation biology. Yet he suggests,rnon more than one occasion, that hernsucceeded only because better thinkers,rnpartieulariy those who were mathematicallyrngifted and analytically inclined,rnraised a variety of ill-defined, complexrnproblems for him to ponder. While approvingrnof humility, I believe that thosernwho generate hypotheses that integraternmasses of confusing, seemingly unsystematicrndata into heuristically fruitfulrnand explanatorily functional gestalts arernat least the intellectual equals of thoserngiven to Cartesian modes of thinking.rnFurther, some deep thinkers argue thatrnwhile mathematical analysis offersrnunparalleled rigor, it is not an end inrnitself. Too much of it may, in fact, bernpernicious to imaginative and originalrnthought, the kind of cognition essentialrnto meeting the challenge of novel circumstances.rnPart two also offers the nonaeademiernan insider’s look at university life—atrnleast at Harvard. You may not like whatrnyou see, particularly if you believe thatrnprofessors are scientists who demurely gornabout the search for truth, oblivious tornthe concerns and immune from thernfoibles of the “real world.” In truth, asrnWilson lets us see, universities are highlyrnpoliticized, as competing ideologiesrnstruggle for supremacy, both politicalrnand economic. Again, however, Wilson’srncandor lets his character shinernthrough. He did not allow the so-calledrnmolecular wars, which attempted tornmake biological reductionism the onernEternal Verity and made “ecology a dirtyrnword,” defeat him. He simply kept onrnwith his appointed rounds, working withinrnthe frame of evolutionary biology,rndespite relentless attacks from his opponentsrnwho claimed that his kind of biologyrn”was infested by stamp collectorsrnwho lacked the wit to transform theirrnsubject into a modern science.” Wilson’srnaccount of life at Harvard alsornimpresses me because he, despite hisrnrenown, continues to enjoy undergraduaternteaching, and in fact believes in it asrnan obligation. Finally, part two helps thernreader position Wilson, a self-professedrnsocial conservative, in the ongoing “culturernwars.” The scientific “political correctness”rnpolice have descended on himrnmore than once. He remarks, with drollrnwit, that “in the liberal dovecotes of HarvardrnUniversity, a reactionary professor isrnlike an atheist in a monastery.” What isrnremarkable is that criticism, deserved orrnundeserved, did not stifle Wilson’s inquiryrnbut rather encouraged it, serving asrna goad to further research and theoreticalrnrefinement.rnNo doubt, Wilson’s work on humanrnnature and sociobiology has been and remainsrncontroversial, all the more so inrnthe wake of the uproar over The BellrnCurve. Wilson contends that the humanrngenome defines a unique human nature,rnin a way that creates “a gravitational pullrntoward a fixed mean. It gathers people inrnall societies into the narrow statistical circlernthat we define as human nature.”rnBut if this is the case, then biology, whilernnot destiny, necessarily plays an enormousrnrole in determining human behaviorrnand our judgment of it. It means,rncontrary to the relativism that tends torndominate liberal social science, that cul-rnJUNE 1995/31rnrnrn