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 colThis 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 understood on a variety of fronts. Ethically, it totally shits on the natural law conception of normative ethics as advanced by Aquinas. I don't think Aquinas would have considered same sex mutual genital play as a 'natural' phenomena, but ... it is (for bonobos). Perhaps the only sexual behaviour that was taboo was incest, and that is interesting from an evolutionary point of view.
Aquinas was not the philosopher of reference in this book but Thomas Hobbes and Machiavelli. Hobbes' conception of the 'state of nature' perhaps resembles the default setting of the primate world. However, the competitive and aggressive nature of Chimpanzees reflects the 'nasty brutish and short' Hobbesian state of nature; perhaps it may be said that the Bonobos reflect a more Lockean/Rousseaunian amour de soi and more notable, Rousseau's Amor Propre.
Lots of philosophical musing can be had about the role of experimentation to reflect our ethical intuitions. The X-phi advocates of us would have a field day of provocative ideas thinking about morality in terms of non human animals, de Waal's portfolio of work in primatology reflects the deeply philosophical nature of primatology/ethology and implications on humanity in terms of politics, normative ethics, philsosophical psychology and even in terms of some form of spirituality. Our kinship with these noble animals should be acknowledged as a reflection on ourselves.
A nice compantion piece to read with Dawkins. I think Dawkins himself has referenced de Waal's work.
Highly recommended. I read this book in just around a week. Couldn't let it go.
Now I have to get back to 'Decline and fall of the Roman Empire' *sigh*...more
This is an interesting attempt of Anthropology and Archaeology by Freud. One thing that I found especially interesting is the wide variety of resourceThis is an interesting attempt of Anthropology and Archaeology by Freud. One thing that I found especially interesting is the wide variety of resources that he used and appeals to for these essays. I would never have expected Freud to have based his work on totemism on Durkheim for instance. I have to say though, there was a lot in this book I could not understand. If I attempted to understand this book, there seemed in my view, a large emphasis on sexuality and taboo, particularly on incest rituals and different kinds of sexual relations that were taboo. Psychoanalysis has a fascinating place in understanding people's motivations that takes place on a meaning level, but methodologically sound? That's another issue and unfortunately rigour is the nom de jeur of good science. All the same, this works as an interesting historical document of the European perspectives on non-western cultures....more
This book is for anyone. This gives a nice context to Relativity, without actually explaining much about it, but by through two relevant stories (oneThis book is for anyone. This gives a nice context to Relativity, without actually explaining much about it, but by through two relevant stories (one about the theory of light and the other about the transition to non-euclidean geometries), Einstein, the man himself, gives an accessible potted scientific history of the past century and a half.
Most recommended, I dont have a maths or science background and you don't need one for this book. ...more
This is a story that really touches me. As a 17 year old boy once upon a time, I lived as a little bit of each of these boys. The ending really gets mThis is a story that really touches me. As a 17 year old boy once upon a time, I lived as a little bit of each of these boys. The ending really gets me. What a work. I love the quote: History just is one fucking thing after another (sic) by one of the characters. ...more