Frans de Waal cracks the moral codes of bonobos and sparks religious controversy
World-renowned, Dutch-born, Emory University C.H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior Frans de Waal took the stage at the 2013 Goteborg Book Fair to talk about his new book, The Bonobo And The Atheist (W.W. Norton trade paperback; March, 2014), beginning with reflections on his 30 year long studies of primates of all kinds (except cats). Dr. de Waal then proceeded to show startling videos of humanistic conflict resolution behaviors and facial expressions in the female-dominated society of bonobo apes and charted the 25 million year evolutionary relationship of bonobos to humans. Next, Dr. de Waal showed videos demonstrating the existence of empathy in bonobo society, including the ability to understand facial expressions and body postures, and acts of consolation in primates. Dr. de Waal wrapped his presentation with videos demonstrating complex forms of empathy and self-identity in elephants; bonobo concern for the well-being of others; kaputian monkey tests of fairness in sharing cucumbers vs. grapes, and arriving at the controversial conclusion that morality preceded religion in primates, before taking questions from the audience on revenge and equality in bonobo apes.
Book and Author Headlines
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