Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge Test | Final 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 is the danger of volitional evolution, in Edmund Wilson's account?

2. What does Edmund Wilson say cultures are made of?

3. What does Edmund Wilson say is the logic behind consilience?

4. Where do tangible phenomena evolve, according to consilience?

5. How many billion people can the earth sustain, theoretically?

Short Essay Questions

1. What ethical perspective does Wilson call the Transcendental view?

2. What social science does Wilson credit with coming closest to consilience?

3. What role does the incest taboo have in genetic and cultural development?

4. What ethical perspective does Wilson call the empiricist view?

5. What is the purpose of the social sciences, and how does Wilson distinguish the social sciences from the physical social sciences?

6. What is the consilient view of religious ethics?

7. How does postmodern art resist consilience, in E.O. Wilson's account?

8. What is volitional evolution, and what does Wilson say are its effects?

9. What are the two branches of anthropology Wilson describes, and what question does he say they both fail to answer?

10. How do social factors influence genetic distribution?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

How does the advent of symmetric multiprocessing computing change the face of science and scientific knowledge? Specifically, how does the ability to crunch enormous amounts of information in multi-variable formulas affect the ability of scientists to describe nature? Does it create a favorable environment for consilience of all the sciences? Or does it reduce things to the laws of statistical probability and math?

Essay Topic 3

How does Wilson refute claims by philosophers of individual experience, who say that truth is personal, and that the search for unity of knowledge will always result in self-opposition, as Freud shows is the case in the unconscious? Does Wilson seem to be at war with himself anywhere within the book, or are his ideas consistent with the possibility of unification of knowledge?

(see the answer keys)

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