William Poe's Reviews > Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are

Our Inner Ape by Frans de Waal
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Jul 08, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in March, 2008

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 that as social animal, both chimps and humans have an inate tendancy toward cooperative group behavior - that "morality" comes from the bottom up, not the top down. We are not "moral creatures" because of say, religion, but rather it arises from our biology. As a master in anthropology, I completely agree. The form and structure of what is acceptible or not in a culture differs broadly throughout indigenous peoples, but in all cases, the precepts work toward group cohesion. That is what has made humans a successful species. I think anyone would love Our Inner Ape and want to read more by de Waal after reading it.
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