Does biology condemn the human species to violence and war? Previous studies of animal behavior incline us to answer yes, but the message of this book is considerably more optimistic. Without denying our heritage of aggressive behavior, Frans de Waal describes powerful checks and balances in the makeup of our closest animal relatives, and in so doing he shows that to humans making peace is as natural as making war.

In this meticulously researched and absorbing account, we learn ...

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Does biology condemn the human species to violence and war? Previous studies of animal behavior incline us to answer yes, but the message of this book is considerably more optimistic. Without denying our heritage of aggressive behavior, Frans de Waal describes powerful checks and balances in the makeup of our closest animal relatives, and in so doing he shows that to humans making peace is as natural as making war.

In this meticulously researched and absorbing account, we learn in detail how different types of simians cope with aggression, and how they make peace after fights. Chimpanzees, for instance, reconcile with a hug and a kiss, whereas rhesus monkeys groom the fur of former adversaries. By objectively examining the dynamics of primate social interactions, de Waal makes a convincing case that confrontation should not be viewed as a barrier to sociality but rather as an unavoidable element upon which social relationships can be built and strengthened through reconciliation.

The author examines five different species—chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys, stump-tailed monkeys, bonobos, and humans—and relates anecdotes, culled from exhaustive observations, that convey the intricacies and refinements of simian behavior. Each species utilizes its own unique peacemaking strategies. The bonobo, for example, is little known to science, and even less to the general public, but this rare ape maintains peace by means of sexual behavior divorced from reproductive functions; sex occurs in all possible combinations and positions whenever social tensions need to be resolved. "Make love, not war" could be the bonobo slogan.

De Waal's demonstration of reconciliation in both monkeys and apes strongly supports his thesis that forgiveness and peacemaking are widespread among nonhuman primates—an aspect of primate societies that should stimulate much needed work on human conflict resolution.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The author ( Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes , LJ 12/15/82) here contrasts reconciliation behavior in chimpanzees, bonobos (``pygmy chimpanzees''), rhesus and stumptailed monkeys, and humans, to demonstrate the wide range of peacemaking strategies among primates. This book balances previous studies on aggression by examining the role of reconciliation in strengthening social ties. While the chapter on human peacemaking is superficial, it emphasizes the need for further research. De Waal's thesis should interest scholars in many fields, while his anecdotal approach will appeal to general readers. Recommended.-- Beth Clewis, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community Coll. Lib., Richmond
Waal (Wisconsin Regional Primate Center) examines the ways in which aggression and reconciliation are both necessary, complementary aspects of primate social relationships; describes these aspects in chimpanzee, rhesus monkey, stumptail monkeys, bonobos monkeys; points out implications for their human relatives. Seventy-five photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674033085
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 310
  • File size: 669 KB

Meet the Author

Frans B. M. de Waal is C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Psychology Department and Director of Living Links, part of the Yerkes Primate Center, Emory University.

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Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgments Prologue 1 False Dichotomies “Good” Aggression “Bad” Peace The Individual and the Group Captive vs. Field Studies 2 Chimpanzees The Arnhem Project Reconciliation and Consolation Sex Differences A Coalition Breaks Deadly Violence Reflections on the Dark Side Self-Awareness and Chimpocentrism 3 Rhesus Monkeys Matriarchs and Matrilines The Transfer of Rank Aggression Levels The Exploratory Phase Implicit Reconciliations Hard Evidence Class Structure Climbing the Ladder 4 Stump-Tailed Monkeys Our Beauties Orgasmic Reconciliations Two Macaques All-Embracing Unity 5 Bonobos The “Pygmy Chimp” Is Neither Wild Bonobos and Wild Theories The Smartest Ape? The Peanut Family Games Bonobos Play Kama Sutra Primates The Sex-Contract Hypothesis Sex for Peace Epilogue 6 Humans The Paucity of Knowledge Degrees of Sophistication Conditions of Peace Children Cultures The Oath of the Elbe Conclusion Bibliography Index
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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Barnes & Noble.com Author Essay

My Double Life

My first taste for popularization came in the 1970s when I worked at the Arnhem Zoo, in the Netherlands. For years, I addressed organized groups of zoo visitors, including lawyers, housewives, university students, psychotherapists, police academies, bird-watchers, and so on. There is no better sounding board for a would-be popularizer. The visitors would yawn at some of the hottest academic issues but react with recognition and fascination to basic chimpanzee psychology that I had begun to take for granted. I learned that the only way to tell my story was to bring the individual chimpanzees to life and pay attention to actual events rather than the abstractions that scientists are so fond of.

Writing popular science books is both a pleasure and an obligation. It is a pleasure, because one writes under fewer constraints than in scientific articles that leave no room for an anecdote here and a speculation there. Peer-reviewed journal articles aren't always fun to produce.

There is a need for popularization. This is where the obligation comes in: Someone needs to explain to the larger audience what the field is all about. This may be hard for some disciplines, such as chemistry or mathematics, but if one works with monkeys and apes, as I do, it is a thankful, easy task. Like us, these animals live in soap operas of family affairs and power politics, so that all one needs to do is dig into their personal lives while attaching whatever scientific messages one wishes to discuss. People relate very easily to primate behavior and do so for the right reasons: The similarities with their own experiences are striking and fundamental.

And so, I began to lead a double life early on in my career. On the one hand, I am now a university professor and scientist who needs to write papers and obtain grants. At the same time, I am a popularizer who tries to see the bigger picture. Initially, I mainly communicated about my own work -- such as in Chimpanzee Politics and Peacemaking Among Primates -- but more and more my writings cover the work of others. My later books, such as Bonobo, Good Natured, and my most recent book, The Ape and the Sushi Master, are good examples: My own studies constitute only a fraction of what is going on in the field of primatology.

My mission in The Ape and the Sushi Master is to abolish the traditional Western dualisms between human and animal, body and mind, and especially culture and nature. I don't know why I am so fundamentally opposed to these dualisms -- many other scientists fervently embrace them. It must have something to do with how close or distant one thinks one is to animals. At the very least -- even if I won't convince everyone -- I hope to make my readers reflect on where these attitudes come from: how they are tied to human self-perception shaped by culture and religion.

--Frans de Waal

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