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Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are

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4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,015 Ratings  ·  151 Reviews
We have long attributed man's violent, aggressive, competitive nature to his animal ancestry. But what if we are just as given to cooperation, empathy, and morality by virtue of our genes? What if our behavior actually makes us apes? What kind of apes are we?

From a scientist and writer E. O. Wilson has called "the world authority on primate social behavior" comes a fasci
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Audio CD, 0 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Tantor Media (first published 2005)
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Wanda
Back in the 1980s, I took several anthropology courses at university. I emerged from them thinking that studying chimpanzees would help my understanding of humanity. In part, I was right--the missing piece to the puzzle was the bonobo (otherwise known as pygmy chimpanzee). They were not even mentioned in any class that I took at that time.

Frans de Waal is an excellent guide to the behaviour and psychology of both chimps and bonobos. He also seems to have a solid grounding in human philosophers a
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Rakan
Mar 19, 2013 Rakan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
هذا الكتاب كان توصية من صديق عظيم وأخ عزيز وافته المنية هو وابنته الرضيعة، إثر حادث أليم مفجع. كان أسعد ضحية أخرى تضاف إلى قائمة ضحايا الفساد والإهمال المستمر لطرقنا السريعة المتهالكة. بوركت أينما كنت يا أسعد.ـ

من المتعارف عليه أننا عندما نقتل ونغتصب ونرتكب الجرائم نكون حينها أبعد ما نكون عن إنسانيتنا. نكون حينها خاضعين لطبيعتنا الحيوانية المنتنة. فيكون الإنسان ((حيواناً)) إذا ارتكب جرما، ويكون الحيوان ((إنساناً)) إذا أتى بحسنة. لكن يبدو أن الخيط الذي يفصل بين الإنسان والحيوان بالكاد يُرى. هذا ما
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Michael
As one would expect from a book called "Our Inner Ape" written by a popular primatologist, this book was largely about similarities between humans and our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, and the evolutionary cause of these similarities. At the heart of De Waal argument that biologists, primatologists, and most importantly evolutionary psychologists have emphasized the connections between chimp behavior and human behavior at the expense of the other side of human behavior, whi ...more
Bill Forbes
Aug 05, 2013 Bill Forbes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of Franz de Waal's books I have read. He sets out to convince us that we share many social traits with other apes - both positive and negative. Specifically, he debunks the notion that civilized human society is just a thin veneer overlying a violent and aggressive foundation. He disputes Richard Dawkins' notion that "survival of the fittest" implies individual selection only and leaves no room for a social aspect of human/ape evolution.

Along the way, he asks the question, "Wha
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Flint
Mar 31, 2009 Flint rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: literate apes
Better than Jared Diamond's The Third Chimpanzee. Diamond only mentioned bonobos in passing; while Frans de Waal discusses them as much as he discusses chimpanzees while only mentions gorillas, ourang-outang, baboons and various monkeys in passing. Frans de Waal's willingness to explore bonobo sexuality make Diamond's "The Third Chimpanzee" seem prudish.

Studying the behavior of our closest species relatives provide a lot of insight into human social behavior.

Politically, Frans de Waal is a lib
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Michael
Great read for anyone wanting to learn more about lessons to be gained on human nature based on recent discoveries about our primate relatives, especially chimps and bonoboes. The model of chimps as Edenic creatures was darkened by discovery of their versions of warfare and murder, while the pansexual and female dominated society of bonoboes can't provide an ideal model of human society because of the contrast with our core dependence on the nuclear family. The major topics covered in the book a ...more
Shannon
May 29, 2008 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written on our closest genetic relatives: chimpanzees and bonobos, this book delves into the behavior of patriarchal, aggressive chimpanzees and the matriarchal, peaceful and sexually free bonobos. I find it telling that behavior-wise humans are in the middle of the behavior of the aforementioned apes. Discussing a wide variety of topics such as power, sex, food competition, language, and scapegoats the author shows how humans differ and are similar to the other great apes. The book ...more
Ian
Mixed feelings about this one. I am interested in the subject but wasn't totally engaged by the writing. In particular, I felt the author adopted an unattractive condescending tone when criticising others, which is something he likes to do a lot. I had the impression some of his barbs were intended as humour, but instead he came over as rather arrogant and disdainful.

That said, there is plenty of interesting stuff in here about chimpanzees and bonobos. Dr. de Waal is clearly an expert in his fie
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William Poe
Jul 08, 2012 William Poe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Frans de Waal is one of those rare folks who can take complex information from the sciences (in his case, primatology) and make it accessible to the average reader. His research into the behavior of our closest relatives is enlightening and profound. I was struck by his statement in the book that humans often demean chimps because of their inability to act like humans, but we would fare horribly if we were thrust into a chimp group and had to cope. In this and other books, de Waal makes the case ...more
Riley
May 26, 2012 Riley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though this occasionally strays into pop psychology, I enjoyed this book all and all. It is refreshing to read from someone who sees looks at natural man and sees the positives, as well as the negatives.

Here’s a passage that I would say makes a good thesis of what Frans de Waal is arguing:

“We hear that we have selfish genes, that human goodness is a sham, that we act morally only to impress others. But if all that people care about is their own good, why does a day-old baby cry when it hears ano
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Dave Gaston
Light behavioral science served up in the form of classic field study reporting. Our Inner Ape is a guy book and a nerd science book all rolled up in one. What’s not to love? OK, the title is a little too obvious. But let’s admit it, we all have a fascination with the “other branch” just to the left (6MM yrs/ago) of our own humanity. The similarities between the two specie's societies are not earth shattering but they are somehow life affirming. Seeing ourselves through a primal reflection power ...more
Christine
Dr. Waal compares human behavior to the apes he has studied. The book is totally varied. In many parts, he has the most fascinating information that includes lots of scientific data, his careful observations and his insightful ruminations.

Other times he is annoying as shit and goes off on these tangents about politics and things he pulls out of his ass that are totally not scientific. He just seems to have a feeling and know.

And I felt like he favored the bonobos big-time. I mean the chimps we
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Daniel Gonçalves
Sometimes, the best answers to the human condition rely upon observation not of ourselves, but of our ape cousins.

Frans de Waal, expert is primatology, explains to the reader why mankind should shift its egocentric, chauvinistic views to focus on a more fair, compared analysis of Homo Sapiens. He does it extremely well and with incredibly convincing arguments, a result of a deep research and extensive field work. A must read for everyone who wants to discover more about their own nature and who
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Gökhan
Mar 23, 2016 Gökhan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kuzenlerimizi ve Biz'i tanıma fırsatını en müthiş haliyle sunuyor.
Öncü ve iyileştirici bir kitap...
Jacqui
I selected this book based on De Waal's reputation in primatology, interested in his thoughts on the root traits that define our human societies. Instead, he stumbled into politics often enough I finally set the book aside, unwilling to mix an objective study of science with a subjective analysis of world political problems. He could have cited a variety of international examples, but chose to concentrate on the USA and a few others, leaving me uncomfortable about his motives. I suggest he stick ...more
Murali Behara
First of all let me acknowledge that this is among best of Science writing. When a book adds to my knowledge and propels me forward it deserves 5 stars. "Evolutionary psychologists are making Beethoven error.... in claiming.... product resembles process". In the last chapter Frans De Wall did have something to say about economists who use statistics to trivialize social capital, empathy and altruism!
Suzanne
Jan 14, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very fine book. While most authors just explain to you fact after fact after fact, which is a fine approach to teaching, of course, this author instead tends to rely on detailing to you his hands-on observations of bonobos and chimpanzees. This approach allows you, the reader, to conduct your own analysis via his descriptions, which is really thought-provoking.
Miray Boga
May 07, 2015 Miray Boga rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
neredeyse bir roman kadar akıcı, anlatımı sade ve biyoloji-evrim-psikoloji gibi konulara ilgi duyan herkes için eğlenceli ve bilgilendirici bir kitap. çeviri de bir o kadar net ve başarılı. kitabın kurgusu ve güncel konularla ilişkilendirilmesi "teknik" bir konunun herkes tarafından anlaşılabilir olmasını sağlamış. müthiş!!!
Amy
May 05, 2009 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book had many interesting facts and insights. I have found myself referencing it a few times. However, thers is no over all big insight. I enjoyed it, but guess I just seemed like a bunch of ideas I already believed.
Kevin
A conversational book about looking towards the apes - particularly bonobos and chimps- to find the origins of our own behaviors.

de Waal relates stories and research from the world of primatology (his own work and others) and hypothesizes on how they relate to the world of anthropology.

Some of the most interesting parts were seeing American science and culture through de Waal’s European immigrant eyes. His reflections on how violence saturates American cinema wasn’t eye-opening for me but it mad
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Ken Gloeckner
Nov 04, 2014 Ken Gloeckner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, biology
Having never read about primates before, this book was very interesting and informative! The main two primates covered by the book -- chimpanzees and bonobos -- are very nearly opposites in terms of behavior. It is this dramatic distinction between the two apes that the author uses to illustrate the inherent tensions of our own nature: the violent and peaceful, the apathetic and empathetic, the competitive and the conciliatory. He concludes that we are not one or the other, neither chimp nor bon ...more
Robert
Aug 02, 2010 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed de Waal's sections describing experiments on primates. He is a first-rate primatologist. I somewhat enjoyed his philosophical musings on the implications of those experiments. He is a third-rate philosopher. I abhorred his ignorant discussion of evolution in humans. He is poor evolutionary biologist. For example, he described the increasing rate of c-sections in the world as evidence that women's vaginal canals are shrinking as an evolutionary response to medical advancements. H ...more
Sandy D.
De Waal doesn't have the frenetic and funny writing style that Sapolsky does (another primatologist whose books I've raved about here), but he is nevertheless good and not without a bit of dry humor. He waxes much more philosophical than Sapolsky - this book is organized into sections on Power, Sex, Violence, and Kindness, and he looks at our how these things are displayed by our nearest animal relatives: chimpanzees, bonobos (formerly called 'pygmy' chimps, now recognized as a separate species) ...more
Rory
Jan 12, 2011 Rory rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Frans de Waal is at his best when recounting his observations of chimpanzees and bonobos based on his own experience with the individuals and groups that he has become intimately acquainted with over the past twenty years. Much of this is anecdotal, but very insightful and a joy to read. There are detailed accounts of interactions at a level that I have not seen anywhere else.

On the other hand, de Waal is at his worst when speculating about human nature. He goes out of his way to distance himsel
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M Pereira
This book has a really nice level headed approach following de Waal's own research on Chimpanzees and Bonobos, as well as referring to a few other colleagues studying in the area.

This book explores the behaviours of our closest genetic relatives. I was listening to this audiobook with some friends and they were astounded and trying to work out what I was listening to, the descriptions of bonobo society sounded inextricably similar to our own human understanding of the world.

This book can be und
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Michael
Our Inner Ape by Frans de Waal looks as the behavior of gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos in the wild and captivity and evaluates how the behavior of our closest animal relatives might inform our perspective on human behavior. He's particularly interested in the behavior of sexually promiscuous, affectionate, cooperative bonobos and how their behavioral adaptations compare to the notoriously patriarchal, competitive and aggressive chimpanzees. I didn't think he spent enough time emphasizing th ...more
Christina
Oct 16, 2009 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A couple of months ago I was at Barnes and Noble and they had a shelf of books from which you could choose one free with the purchase of any book. So I made off with this bad boy FREE! I chose it because the author's name stuck out to me- I cited him in a paper I wrote about chimp social behavior back in college. I really enjoyed the research that I did for that paper, so I was excited to learn more, and learn I did.
The premise is that, thanks to our common ancestor, we can learn about the roots
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Clif
Jul 28, 2010 Clif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a curious person. I'm dedicated to learning why we behave the way we do. Our Inner Ape is a book after my own heart because it's devoted to the topic.

Frans de Waal has a warm and welcoming writing style and provides a large number of stories based on his experience with chimpanzees and bonobos, and to a lesser extent, gorillas. Along the way he has several insights to share about our own species.

The book looks at the behavior of the three of us - chimps, bonobos and man, to see how the apes
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Brandyn
Aug 10, 2013 Brandyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bit of a misleading title; is more about the behavioral traits of bonobos and chimpanzees, which while interesting, doesn't really directly address the topic. I think the author assumes that since other humans are reading about primate behavior, they can draw parallels on their own. Ultimately, this just reinforces what the reader already thinks, and doesn't introduce much in new insight.

Towards the very end of the book, he mentions, almost in passing, that there are bonobo/chimpanzee hybrids
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djcb
Oct 09, 2012 djcb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frans de Waal looks at primates (primarily, chimpanzees and bonobos) at some of human nature -- in particular, sex, violence and morality.

The stories about ape behavior are really fascinating, and may tell us a bit about our own behavior. De Waal suggests that some of our behavior has counterparts in chimpanzees and bonobos, the latter being more aggressive (even violent, cruel) and competitive, and the second being more social.

I didn't like De Waal's extrapolations into human politics and socie
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112082
"Frans B.M. de Waal, PhD (born 29 October 1948, 's-Hertogenbosch), is a Dutch psychologist, primatologist and ethologist. He is the Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behavior in the Emory University psychology department in Atlanta, Georgia, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and author of numerous books including Chimpanzee Politics an ...more
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“I sometimes try to imagine what would have happened if we’d known the bonobo first and the chimpanzee only later—or not at all. The discussion about human evolution might not revolve as much around violence, warfare and male dominance, but rather around sexuality, empathy, caring and cooperation. What a different intellectual landscape we would occupy!” 10 likes
“on August 16, 1996, when an eight-year-old female gorilla named Binti Jua helped a three-year-old boy who had fallen eighteen feet into the primate exhibit at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo. Reacting immediately, Binti scooped up the boy and carried him to safety. She sat down on a log in a stream, cradling the boy in her lap, giving him a few gentle back pats before taking him to the waiting zoo staff. This simple act of sympathy, captured on video and shown around the world, touched many hearts, and Binti was hailed as a heroine. It was the first time in U.S. history that an ape figured in the speeches of leading politicians, who held her up as a model of compassion.” 4 likes
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