Read The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society by Frans de Waal Free Online
Book Title: The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society|
The author of the book: Frans de Waal
Edition: Souvenir Press
Date of issue: September 1st 2011
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Reader ratings: 5.4
ISBN 13: 9780285640382
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 956 KB
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Our Animal Nature: A Glass Half-full Approach
This book is primarily a detailed exploration of animal emotions (such as empathy) and on how they stunningly correspond to the human.
Two main threads of thought emerge from this correspondence:
1. The need to recognize animals as much closer to us and to treat them with that respect, empathy and humaneness.
2. An optimism that the “better angels of our nature” are as deep-wired in us as the baser instincts that we call ‘animal instincts’. Both aspects are animal instincts with long evolutionary histories and are not mere impositions of civilization. This means that the better aspects of human nature are not as brittle and prone-to-breakdown. No thin veneer of civilization, no nature red in tooth & claw, no “Lord of the Flies” scenarios. This is optimistic because this allows us to place great confidence in fundamental human nature and not just in institutions that control it. This reminds me of 'Paradise Built in Hell.'
While I completely subscribe to this second argument, the first left me slightly uneasy. To me it was not a necessary argument. It is also a, perhaps unintentionally, negative assertion. Implicit in it is the assumption that a species/animal has to be closer to human beings to deserve dignity of life. It is a powerful emotional argument to claim that a species is close to us and share our emotional inner life, but it is also discrimination. Life is rich and diverse; there is no reason to draw a ‘degree of separation’ from the human to measure how well a species must be treated. That is just another version of the anthropocentric world-view that de Waal works so hard to denigrate in this book.
That said, the idea that the majority of our most exalted virtues have parallels throughout the animal kingdoms and is an essential part of the evolutionary mechanism bodes very well indeed. It made me much more cheerful in my quest towards understanding how our species can live at peace with the rest of the world.
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Read information about the author"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 and Our Inner Ape. His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food-sharing. In 1993, he was elected to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 2008.
In 1977, de Waal received his doctorate in biology from Utrecht University after training as a zoologist and ethologist. His dissertation research concerned aggressive behavior and alliance formation in macaques.
In 1975, de Waal began a six-year project on the world's largest captive colony of chimpanzees at the Arnhem Zoo. The study resulted in many scientific papers, and resulted in publication of his first book, Chimpanzee Politics, in 1982.
In 1981, he moved to the United States for a position at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, and took his current position at Emory and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in 1991.
His research into the innate capacity for empathy among primates has led de Waal to the conclusion that non-human great apes and humans are simply different types of apes, and that there is little difference between these species.
His book, Our Inner Ape, examines human behavior through the eyes of a primatologist, using the behavior of common chimpanzees and bonobos as metaphors for human psychology.
De Waal was named one of Time magazine's most influential 100 people in 2007.
De Waal also works in the field of social psychology. De Waal is currently on the Editorial Board of Greater Good Magazine, published by the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California, Berkeley. His contributions include the interpretation of scientific research into the roots of compassion, altruism, and peaceful human relationships. Besides being a contributor, de Waal, also has an article on Empathy in Greater Good magazine. He further writes a column for Psychologie, a popular Dutch monthly magazine."