This iconoclastic quotation — from the private correspondence of the late great evolutionary biologist W. D. “Bill” Hamilton — appears on page 46 of Nature’s Oracle, Professor Ullica Segerstrale’s masterful biography of the life and work of the man. Professor Hamilton spent most his of life researching one of the great unsolved mysteries of the natural world–social insects. Specifically, why is mutual cooperation, not Hobbesian conflict, the norm in bee colonies? Why are bees (and other social insects like ants and terminates) able to cooperate for the greater good of their hive without a formal legal system? What general lessons can bee colonies teach human societies? These are the kinds of puzzles and problems that fascinated Bill Hamilton throughout his life. This is why he is one of our intellectual heroes …
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