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The Biology of Wonder
Aliveness, Feeling and the Metamorphosis of Science
A new way of understanding our place in the web of life from a scholar praised for his “graceful prose” (Publishers Weekly).
The disconnection between humans and nature is perhaps one of the most fundamental problems faced by our species today. This schism is arguably the root cause of most of the environmental catastrophes unraveling around us. Until we come to terms with the depths of our alienation, we will continue to fail to understand that what happens to nature also happens to us.
In The Biology of Wonder Andreas Weber proposes a new approach to the biological sciences that puts the human back in nature. He argues that feelings and emotions, far from being superfluous to the study of organisms, are the very foundation of life. From this basic premise flows the development of a "poetic ecology" which intimately connects our species to everything that surrounds us—showing that subjectivity and imagination are prerequisites of biological existence.
Written by a leader in the emerging fields of biopoetics and biosemiotics, The Biology of Wonder demonstrates that there is no separation between us and the world we inhabit, and in so doing it validates the essence of our deep experience. By reconciling science with meaning, expression, and emotion, this landmark work brings us to a crucial understanding of our place in the rich and diverse framework of life—a revolution for biology as groundbreaking as the theory of relativity for physics.
“Grounded in science, yet eloquently narrated, this is a groundbreaking book. Weber’s visionary work provides new insight into human/nature interconnectedness and the dire consequences we face by remaining disconnected.” —Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods
Dr. Andreas Weber is a German academic, scholar and writer who holds degrees in Marine Biology and Cultural Studies. He is the author of eight non-fiction books and dozens of magazine features and is highly respected for his work in the fields of popular science and environmental sustainability. Andreas explores new understandings of life-as-meaning or "biopoetics" and "biosemiotics" in science and in the arts, and his work has been translated into several languages and published around the globe.
"The Biology of Wonder is a wonderfully eclectic and wide-ranging book that clearly shows that all beings and landscapes on our fascinating and magnificent planet are deeply interconnected. In the spirit of personal rewilding, Professor Weber writes about interbeing, ecological commons, first-person ecology, and non-duality in ways that will make sense to readers with different interests, and his ideas about "poetic ecology" show clearly that we are not alone — indeed, we are one of the gang — and must not behave as if we are the only show in town."
Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, and author, Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence
"Weber moves biology beyond reductionism into a new expanded view of life that includes not only reductionism itself, but also the interactive cooperation, beauty, and vital force that complete the picture of our living world."
David Ehrenfeld, Distinguished Professor of Biology at Rutgers, and author, The Arrogance of Humanism and Becoming Good Ancestors: How We Balance Nature, Community, and Technology
"The Biology of Wonder is a wonder. Schrodinger asked "What is Life" with brilliance, but misses "What IS life". Weber sees aliveness as functional wholes, self-creative, and self-generating, that co-create their worlds. The "aliveness" of all life, emotional, sentient, adgentival, interested, co-mingled, "entangled with all of life", reorients us scientifically, poetically and morally, from the rich but insufficient reductionism Schrodinger helped spearhead."
Stuart Kauffman FRSC, Emeritus Professor, University of Pennsylvania
"Written with poetic elegance and interwoven with a rich vein of personal narrative, this extraordinary book takes the central idea of the subjectivity and interior life of all living beings and gives it concreteness by grounding it in the findings of modern biology. In articulating the Laws of Desire inherent in all organic life, it goes far toward reframing the debate about the relationship between mind and body."
Shierry Weber Nicholsen, author, The Love of Nature and the End of the World
"In Andreas Weber's vision, nature is beautiful, and ecology is poetry. Follow his beautiful words into a science that investigates the Earth as a breathing, sensitive planet that welcomes us with story and song."
David Rothenberg, author, Survival of the Beautiful and Bug Music
"The Biology of Wonder guides us toward discerning that value, meaning, experience, creativity, and freedom exist within and constitute the living world. Previously dismissed as "romantic," this viewpoint, at once clearheaded and compassionate, is tenaciously represented by Andreas Weber as deep realism. To come to grips with the understanding he communicates — to recognize the ubiquity of subjectivity in the world and the feeling-unity of the human with all creation — is to glimpse what biodiversity destruction heralds for the human soul. The work of protecting and restoring nature simultaneously recovers and rescues our innermost being."
Eileen Crist, coeditor, Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth.
"The Biology of Wonder is a wonderful biology, even a transformational one. Prof. Weber leads us into a radiant world which is sensuous, interconnected and always communicating in a bio-poetical symphony. Had we ears to hear the language and eyes to see the vision revealed in this book we would surely be made more alive and deeply thankful. This is more than a book; it is a revelation, and it joins the very few works I would take into the wilderness with me. Beautiful, wise, and grounded, I am grateful as much for the vision Prof Weber elucidates as for the love with which he clearly expresses it all."
Kaleeg Hainsworth, author, An Altar in the Wilderness
"Grounded in science, yet eloquently narrated, this is a groundbreaking book. Weber's visionary work provides new insight into human/nature interconnectedness and the dire consequences we face by remaining disconnected."
Richard Louv, author, The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods
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