Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What idea of Locke's survived the Enlightenment into Romanticism?

2. What is the goal, in Wilson's account, of molecular research on human cells?

3. What subject would Wilson like to see more of in undergraduate education?

4. What kind of progress does Wilson see in the history of life on earth?

5. Who proposed the idea of unity of species that follow a few simple laws?

Short Essay Questions

1. In what way does Wilson distinguish between evolutionary progress and consilience?

2. What does Wilson offer as an alternative to scientific knowledge and consilience?

3. What consequence does Wilson hope consilience can have on public policy?

4. How did Wilson arrive at his theory of consilience?

5. How is knowledge accepted as settled, or final?

6. How does Wilson describe the mindset necessary to be a scientist?

7. How is Wilson's theory a consequence of evolutionary theory?

8. What does the term "consilience" mean?

9. What is the relationship between chaos theory and consilience?

10. What ancient sources does Wilson trace consilience back to?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

How would you respond to a reviewer who wrote that after Wilson leaves his discussion of biology and reductionism, which were his fields of training, he loses authority, and ventures into fields he is not expert in, where his ideas about art and religion are off-base, and his argument about objectivity is tautological. Is this a fair critique?

Essay Topic 2

Wilson's book begins and ends with a call for better efficiency and use of knowledge in solving problems. To what extent is consilience really Wilson's response to the dangers of industrial modernism? Is consilience really about knowledge and disciplines, or is it about clearing the way for scientists to contribute their experience to solving problems?

Essay Topic 3

The model for scientific work is based on hypothesis and testing, with each discovery creating the need for further testing and further hypotheses and publications--but Wilson describes scientific knowledge as settled and established. Is Wilson overlooking the uncertainty in scientific work and generalizing the results? Does the scientific method itself foster consilience or undermine it?

(see the answer keys)

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