The Primate Mind: Built to Connect with Other Minds

The Primate Mind: Built to Connect with Other Minds

by Frans B. M. de Waal, Pier Francesco Ferrari
     
 

“Monkey see, monkey do” may sound simple, but how an individual perceives and processes the behavior of another is one of the most complex and fascinating questions related to the social life of humans and other primates. In The Primate Mind, experts from around the world take a bottom-up approach to primate social behavior by investigating how

Overview

“Monkey see, monkey do” may sound simple, but how an individual perceives and processes the behavior of another is one of the most complex and fascinating questions related to the social life of humans and other primates. In The Primate Mind, experts from around the world take a bottom-up approach to primate social behavior by investigating how the primate mind connects with other minds and exploring the shared neurological basis for imitation, joint action, cooperative behavior, and empathy.

In the past, there has been a tendency to ask all-or-nothing questions, such as whether primates possess a theory of mind, have self-awareness, or have culture. A bottom-up approach asks, rather, what are the underlying cognitive processes of such capacities, some of which may be rather basic and widespread. Prominent neuroscientists, psychologists, ethologists, and primatologists use methods ranging from developmental psychology to neurophysiology and neuroimaging to explore these evolutionary foundations.

A good example is mirror neurons, first discovered in monkeys but also assumed to be present in humans, that enable a fusing between one’s own motor system and the perceived actions of others. This allows individuals to read body language and respond to the emotions of others, interpret their actions and intentions, synchronize and coordinate activities, anticipate the behavior of others, and learn from them. The remarkable social sophistication of primates rests on these basic processes, which are extensively discussed in the pages of this volume.

Editorial Reviews

Nature

Presents an authoritative, surprising and enriching picture of our monkey and ape cousins...The Primate Mind suggests that it may not be the capacity to imitate, but the motivation to do so that sets us apart from other animals. Like all good suggestions, this opens the door to more questions about the mechanisms and evolution of such motivation—and, ultimately, about how our own social minds evolved from the deeply interconnected minds of our primate cousins.
— Christian Keysers

Barnes & Noble Review

[The Primate Mind] showcases cutting-edge thinking about primate psychology and neurology...Even for non-specialists, The Primate Mind offers the excitement of seeing science begin to offer concrete answers to such fundamental and ancient human questions.
— Adam Kirsch

Choice

The research represented in this book clearly pushes the boundaries of what is known about how primates think, feel, and view the world and others around them. Overall, the book provides a wealth of fascinating and intriguing insights into primate minds.
— S. C. Baker

Nature - Christian Keysers
Presents an authoritative, surprising and enriching picture of our monkey and ape cousins...The Primate Mind suggests that it may not be the capacity to imitate, but the motivation to do so that sets us apart from other animals. Like all good suggestions, this opens the door to more questions about the mechanisms and evolution of such motivation--and, ultimately, about how our own social minds evolved from the deeply interconnected minds of our primate cousins.
Barnes & Noble Review - Adam Kirsch
[The Primate Mind] showcases cutting-edge thinking about primate psychology and neurology...Even for non-specialists, The Primate Mind offers the excitement of seeing science begin to offer concrete answers to such fundamental and ancient human questions.
Choice - S. C. Baker
The research represented in this book clearly pushes the boundaries of what is known about how primates think, feel, and view the world and others around them. Overall, the book provides a wealth of fascinating and intriguing insights into primate minds.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674058040
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
01/02/2012
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

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.

Pier Francesco Ferrari is Assistant Professor in Biology at the School of Medicine at the Università di Parma, Italy.

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