Folk Physics for Apes: The Chimpanzee's Theory of how the World Works / Edition 2

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From an early age, humans know a surprising amount about basic physical principles, such as gravity, force, mass, and shape. We can see this in the way that young children play, and manipulate objects around them. The same behavior has long been observed in primates - chimpanzees have been shown to possess a remarkable ability to make and use simple tools. But what does this tell us about their inner mental state - do they therefore share the same understanding to that of a young child? Do they understand the simple, underlying physical principles involved? Though some people would say that they do, this book reports groundbreaking research that questions whether this really is the case.

Folk Physics for Apes challenges the assumptions so often made about apes. It offers us a rare glimpse into the workings of another mind, examining how apes perceive and understand the physical world - an understanding that appears to be both similar to, and yet profoundly different from our own. The book will have broad appeal to evolutionary psychologists, developmental psychologists, and those interested in the sub-disciplines of cognitive science (philosophy, anthropology). The book additionally offers for developmental psychologists some valuable new non-verbal techniques for assessing causal understanding in young children.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Daniel Povinelli and his colleagues in Folk Physics describe 27 meticulously conducted and previously unpublished experiments designed to assess what chimpanzees really understand about the way their physical world works. This book presents a rigorous documented set of internally consistent results that offer a stalwart challenge for anyone harbouring ambitions to chart the true mentality of chimpanzees." — Andrew Whiten, Nature, Vol 409, Jan 11, 2001

"Folk Physics for Apes, written by anthropologist Daniel Povinelli; represents a recent contribution to hthis contentious history. . .Povinelli's bottom line is that chimpanzees think about the physical world in a way radically different from our own."—Science

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198572190
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/17/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor Daniel Povinelli is world famous for his controversial, but revolutionary experiments in the field of animal behavior. This book will attract considerable publicity, not least due to the controversial stance he takes in the long running debate over animal intelligence.

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Table of Contents

An initial word about 'folk physics'
1. Folk physics cannot be assumed
2. Escaping the argument by analogy
3. Causality, tool use, and folk physics: a comparative approach
4. The trap-tube problem
5. The trap-table problem
6. The inverted- and broken-rake problems
7. The flimsy-tool problem
8. The tool-insertion problem: the question of shape
9. The rope, hook-retrieval, touching-stick, and related problems: the question of physical connection
10. The support problem: physical connection revisited
11. The bendable-tool and tool-construction problems: the question of tool modification
12. Toward a folk physics for chimpanzees
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III

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