Making noise, not getting anywhere.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

On a Monkey's Back


One of Frans de Waal's objectives in publishing his Chimpanzee Politics in 1982 was to destroy the notion that only us humans are capable of complex social behaviour and congition, and that we are not so special after all. It was, I believe, mainly advocating a recasting of social human psychology in terms of primate behaviour.

Read today, though, it has an opposite effect on me, and throws the personality of the apes into sharp focus. I don't read so much that we are apes, but that these animals are people, and the fact that they are kept in enclosures, that their habitats are being destroyed, and that we humans have taken full control over their fate without accepting the responsibility for it, gives this book a very melancholy undercurrent. And the fact that chimps are scheming, power hungry bastards, doesn't change that one bit.


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