Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved

Princeton University Press
11
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Can virtuous behavior be explained by nature, and not by human rational choice? "It's the animal in us," we often hear when we've been bad. But why not when we're good? Primates and Philosophers tackles this question by exploring the biological foundations of one of humanity's most valued traits: morality.

In this provocative book, renowned primatologist Frans de Waal argues that modern-day evolutionary biology takes far too dim a view of the natural world, emphasizing our "selfish" genes and reinforcing our habit of labeling ethical behavior as humane and the less civilized as animalistic. Seeking the origin of human morality not in evolution but in human culture, science insists that we are moral by choice, not by nature.


Citing remarkable evidence based on his extensive research of primate behavior, de Waal attacks "Veneer Theory," which posits morality as a thin overlay on an otherwise nasty nature. He explains how we evolved from a long line of animals that care for the weak and build cooperation with reciprocal transactions. Drawing on Darwin, recent scientific advances, and his extensive research of primate behavior, de Waal demonstrates a strong continuity between human and animal behavior. He probes issues such as anthropomorphism and human responsibilities toward animals. His compelling account of how human morality evolved out of mammalian society will fascinate anyone who has ever wondered about the origins and reach of human goodness.


Based on the Tanner Lectures de Waal delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values in 2004, Primates and Philosophers includes responses by the philosophers Peter Singer, Christine M. Korsgaard, and Philip Kitcher and the science writer Robert Wright. They press de Waal to clarify the differences between humans and other animals, yielding a lively debate that will fascinate all those who wonder about the origins and reach of human goodness.

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About the author

Frans de Waal is the C. H. Candler Professor of Psychology at Emory University and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Center in Atlanta.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 12, 2009
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Pages
232
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ISBN
9781400830336
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Psychology / Social Psychology
Science / General
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / Primatology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In this lively and illuminating discussion of his landmark research, esteemed primatologist Frans de Waal argues that human morality is not imposed from above but instead comes from within. Moral behavior does not begin and end with religion but is in fact a product of evolution. For many years, de Waal has observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food. Now he delivers fascinating fresh evidence for the seeds of ethical behavior in primate societies that further cements the case for the biological origins of human fairness. Interweaving vivid tales from the animal kingdom with thoughtful philosophical analysis, de Waal seeks a bottom-up explanation of morality that emphasizes our connection with animals. In doing so, de Waal explores for the first time the implications of his work for our understanding of modern religion. Whatever the role of religious moral imperatives, he sees it as a “Johnny-come-lately” role that emerged only as an addition to our natural instincts for cooperation and empathy.

But unlike the dogmatic neo-atheist of his book’s title, de Waal does not scorn religion per se. Instead, he draws on the long tradition of humanism exemplified by the painter Hieronymus Bosch and asks reflective readers to consider these issues from a positive perspective: What role, if any, does religion play for a well-functioning society today? And where can believers and nonbelievers alike find the inspiration to lead a good life?

Rich with cultural references and anecdotes of primate behavior, The Bonobo and the Atheist engagingly builds a unique argument grounded in evolutionary biology and moral philosophy. Ever a pioneering thinker, de Waal delivers a heartening and inclusive new perspective on human nature and our struggle to find purpose in our lives.

In this thought-provoking book, the acclaimed author of Our Inner Ape examines how empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans.

Are we our brothers' keepers? Do we have an instinct for compassion? Or are we, as is often assumed, only on earth to serve our own survival and interests?

By studying social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution, Frans de Waal demonstrates that animals–and humans–are "preprogrammed to reach out." He has found that chimpanzees care for mates that are wounded by leopards, elephants offer "reassuring rumbles" to youngsters in distress, and dolphins support sick companions near the water's surface to prevent them from drowning. From day one humans have innate sensitivities to faces, bodies, and voices; we've been designed to feel for one another.

De Waal's theory runs counter to the assumption that humans are inherently selfish, which can be seen in the fields of politics, law, and finance. But he cites the public's outrage at the U.S. government's lack of empathy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a significant shift in perspective–one that helped Barack Obama become elected and ushered in what may well become an Age of Empathy. Through a better understanding of empathy's survival value in evolution, de Waal suggests, we can work together toward a more just society based on a more generous and accurate view of human nature.

Written in layman's prose with a wealth of anecdotes, wry humor, and incisive intelligence, The Age of Empathy is essential reading for our embattled times.

"An important and timely message about the biological roots of human kindness."
—Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape
Visit the author's Web site at www.ourinnerape.com

It’s no secret that humans and apes share a host of traits, from the tribal communities we form to our irrepressible curiosity. We have a common ancestor, scientists tell us, so it’s natural that we act alike. But not all of these parallels are so appealing: the chimpanzee, for example, can be as vicious and manipulative as any human.

Yet there’s more to our shared primate heritage than just our violent streak. In Our Inner Ape, Frans de Waal, one of the world’s great primatologists and a renowned expert on social behavior in apes, presents the provocative idea that our noblest qualities—generosity, kindness, altruism—are as much a part of our nature as are our baser instincts. After all, we share them with another primate: the lesser-known bonobo. As genetically similar to man as the chimpanzee, the bonobo has a temperament and a lifestyle vastly different from those of its genetic cousin. Where chimps are aggressive, territorial, and hierarchical, bonobos are gentle, loving, and erotic (sex for bonobos is as much about pleasure and social bonding as it is about reproduction).

While the parallels between chimp brutality and human brutality are easy to see, de Waal suggests that the conciliatory bonobo is just as legitimate a model to study when we explore our primate heritage. He even connects humanity’s desire for fairness and its morality with primate behavior, offering a view of society that contrasts markedly with the caricature people have of Darwinian evolution. It’s plain that our finest qualities run deeper in our DNA than experts have previously thought.

Frans de Waal has spent the last two decades studying our closest primate relations, and his observations of each species in Our Inner Ape encompass the spectrum of human behavior. This is an audacious book, an engrossing discourse that proposes thought-provoking and sometimes shocking connections among chimps, bonobos, and those most paradoxical of apes, human beings.

In this thought-provoking book, the acclaimed author of Our Inner Ape examines how empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans.

Are we our brothers' keepers? Do we have an instinct for compassion? Or are we, as is often assumed, only on earth to serve our own survival and interests?

By studying social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution, Frans de Waal demonstrates that animals–and humans–are "preprogrammed to reach out." He has found that chimpanzees care for mates that are wounded by leopards, elephants offer "reassuring rumbles" to youngsters in distress, and dolphins support sick companions near the water's surface to prevent them from drowning. From day one humans have innate sensitivities to faces, bodies, and voices; we've been designed to feel for one another.

De Waal's theory runs counter to the assumption that humans are inherently selfish, which can be seen in the fields of politics, law, and finance. But he cites the public's outrage at the U.S. government's lack of empathy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a significant shift in perspective–one that helped Barack Obama become elected and ushered in what may well become an Age of Empathy. Through a better understanding of empathy's survival value in evolution, de Waal suggests, we can work together toward a more just society based on a more generous and accurate view of human nature.

Written in layman's prose with a wealth of anecdotes, wry humor, and incisive intelligence, The Age of Empathy is essential reading for our embattled times.

"An important and timely message about the biological roots of human kindness."
—Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape
探索動物智力時,人類真的夠聰明嗎?


◆《出版人周刊》、《圖書館期刊》、Goodreads網站讀者票選2016年度好書

◆《時代》雜誌世界最具影響力百大人物、《探索》雜誌史上最偉大的47位科學思想家,美國國家科學院、荷蘭皇家藝術暨科學院院士法蘭斯.德瓦爾最新力作

◆城邦讀書花園網站、何嘉仁書店當月選書

◆書系共同策畫——清華大學生命科學系助理教授 黃貞祥

◆專文延伸閱讀——清華大學系統神經科學研究所所長 焦傳金


人類與其他動物究竟有何不同?


是否在於人類擁有設計工具的能力?或是能意識到什麼是自我?感受得到現在與未來的差異?還是如大文豪馬克.吐溫所說,因為人類是唯一會臉紅的生物?在過去,我們也許對於「人類是萬物之靈」的信念堅定不移,可是隨著近數十年認知領域研究的革命性發展,關於動物與人類智力的種種定見開始產生動搖、甚至遭到推翻。


你可能從沒想過人類以外的動物會做出下列舉動:

——母黑猩猩不僅會使用人類的奶瓶哺餵下一代,還懂得在寶寶需要打嗝時及時抽出奶瓶

——北美星鴉能將兩萬顆松子藏在方圓數平方公里,數個月後再準確地挖出來取食過冬

——若要一頭大象區分眼前不同的人,牠能夠從年齡、性別和使用的語言來分辨

——日本獼猴吃甘藷之前不但知道要清洗,還知道用海水洗過沾上鹹味更好吃

——章魚懂得預先收集椰子殼保護自己,不被獵食者攻擊


美國國家科學院院士法蘭斯.德瓦爾在這本極具里程碑意義的書當中,將帶領我們重新定位人類在生物物種間的位置,並從一則則活潑有趣的故事、一次次精心設計的實驗,深入動物行為與認知研究的最前端——唯有以動物的視角觀察世界,才能理解動物們到底有多聰明!


【共同推薦】


丁照棣(臺灣大學生命科學系)

王道還(生物人類學者)

沈聖峰(中央研究院生物多樣性研究中心副研究員)

怪奇事物所

鄭國威(PanSci 泛科學總編輯)

謝伯讓(腦科學家,《都是大腦搞的鬼》、《大腦簡史》作者)

顏聖紘(國立中山大學生物科學系副教授)


【好評推薦】


★ 這是一本出色科學家所寫的出色書籍。藉由愈來愈多的研究成果(包含他自己的),德瓦爾展現了從大象、黑猩猩到低等無脊椎動物等各個物種,不但比人類以為的還要聰明,而且也參與了我們才剛起步、開始理解的思考的形式。 

——愛德華.O.威爾森


★ 在我的成長與求學階段,許多人深受勞倫茲所寫的《所羅門王的指環》啟發而走上博物學家或動物行為學家之路。《你不知道我們有多聰明》就像是新世紀版的《所羅門王的指環》,內容廣泛又發人深省。 

——《衛報》書評家Matthew Cobb


★ 一本有趣的書,對許多物種的智力提出令人信服的解釋……不僅飽含知識、發人省思,讀來也饒富趣味。 

——《華盛頓郵報》


★ 一部文字優美、流暢的科普著作,由一位致力讓大眾了解動物們有多聰明的傑出研究者所撰述。 

——《科學》雜誌


★ 太令人驚豔了……有一種經典之作的氣質和夢幻般的閱讀。 

——《時人》雜誌


★ 引人入勝、書寫詳實。 

——《紐約時報》


★ 生動有趣的動物行為觀察,與略帶幽默的敘述,徹底扭轉我們對牠們的粗淺認知。讀完本書,自詡為萬物之靈的人類難免要有些自慚形穢了。 

——城邦讀書花園


★ 此書再次提醒我們:並不是先有人類才有這個世界,從主觀的角度去看待萬物總是讓我們錯失更多。而且讓人開始懷疑:我真的了解我家那隻狗嗎?極力推薦眾生一讀! 

——何嘉仁書店


★ 學術界過去對動物智力的認識,因為人類中心主義等等錯誤而矇上了迷霧,還好就是有不信邪的科學家,一再揭示了動物的行為能力,讓我們見識到原來牠們也會使用工具,也會合作無間,還會安排計畫,有自我認知能力,甚至還有意識。《你不知道我們有多聰明》提出非常多元的案例來讓我們認識到烏鴉、松鼠、海豚、鸚鵡、綿羊、黃蜂、蝙蝠、鯨魚、黑猩猩和倭黑猩猩等等動物的能耐,見識到動物智力的可能範圍和深度。在某些方面,我們人類事實上還不如這些動物呢! 

——清華大學生命科學系助理教授 黃貞祥



在心智上,人類和其他高等動物之間的差異,至多僅是程度,而非本質。 

——查爾斯.達爾文(Charles Darwin, 1871)



出版社 馬可孛羅 (城邦)

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