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

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,711 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Visit the author's Web site at www.ourinnerape.comIt’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 ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Riverhead Books (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
...more
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
Rakan
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
...more
Flint
Mar 31, 2009 Flint rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
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
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
Bill Forbes
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
...more
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
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!
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
...more
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
Suzanne
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
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!!!
Ken Gloeckner
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
Aria
It was a very interesting book. Many times I was surprised by our similarities to other apes. I think the main emphasis of the book, was to down play down the emphasis on human's stressful, aggressive, competitive behavior which is intuitively justified by "survival of the fittest" idea of evolution. Frans de Waal explains how cooperation, compassion, playful sexual bonds could also be developed evolutionary. I just think he paraphrased and repeated one idea (mostly even each sentence) several t ...more
Robert
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
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
...more
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
...more
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
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
...more
Clif
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
...more
Brandyn
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
...more
William Poe
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
djcb
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
...more
Andrew Pace
It is conventional wisdom that human society is in many ways opposed to human nature. When we do destructive things, we are simply succumbing to our animal nature. When we are compassionate, creative or otherwise positive, we are becoming something different. We are being "human".

This book attacks that conventional wisdom by demonstrating that many of the traits and abilities we consider to be unique to us are not only observable in the great apes, but quite common.

Many people are aware that gre
...more
Koroviev
This is a great book to learn about primate behaviour, not so sure about our "Inner Ape". The gist of it is that we are between Chimps and Bonobos, and share traits with both.

I liked almost everything touched upon in the book - existence of social hierarchies and power structure, of kindness and cooperation, competition, sexuality, conflicts and conflict-resolution etc, in primates. Prior to reading this, I had not appreciated the fact that morality stems from the presence of social structure a
...more
John Wiswell
I went into this book wanting to believe everything de Waal wrote, as his Good Natured shone such light on how much we have in common with other primates. He demonstrated that most of our ideas of goodness exist in our older genetic neighbors and that goodness is more natural than we often give it credit. Like in much of de Waal’s writing, here he compares beliefs of human behavior to observation of other primates, specifically chimpanzees and bonobos, which sport radically different social beha ...more
Lobeck
if you've read chimpanzee politics, you will hear lots of rehashed and recycled ideas. i don't particularly like de waal's writing style, which is awkward due in part to the fact that english is not his native language and, i suspect, to his own personal style of speach. conclusions and trains of thought are a little too anthropocentric, focusing too frequently on what ape behavior means for humans. although all species are bound to be different in some way, we still insist on legitimizing behav ...more
Riley
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
...more
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"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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The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved The Ape and the Sushi Master: Reflections of a Primatologist

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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!” 9 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.” 3 likes
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