The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist
De Waal (Frans)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Amazon.co.uk Review

  1. The Ape and the Sushi Master is a welcome return from noted primatologist Frans de Waal, who investigates ape culture in this fascinating new book. To watch apes dressed in human clothing and mimicking human manners--an old standby in films and television shows--can make some human viewers uncomfortable, writes de Waal; somehow, by doing so, the apes are crossing some line in the sand, a line that speaks to issues of culture, which humans alone are presumed to have. But culture, in de Waal's estimation, does not mean using an oyster fork properly or attending smart gallery openings. Instead, it "means that knowledge and habits are acquired from others--often, but not always, the older generation." Culture implies communication and social organisation, and in this, he notes, humans by no means have a monopoly. A sushi chef learns by acquiring knowledge and habits from more accomplished masters, but so do chimpanzees learn to wash bananas in jungle streams, and so do birds learn to break open molluscs on the rocks below them.
  2. Closely examining anthropocentric theories of culture, de Waal counterposes the notion of anthropodenial, "the a priori rejection of shared characteristics between humans and animals when in fact they may exist." He takes issue with "selfish gene" theories of behaviour, arguing spiritedly that there are better models for explaining why animals--and humans--do what they do. And, against Aristotle, he argues that humans are not the only political animals, if by politics we mean a social process "determining who gets what, when, and how." What animals and humans clearly share, he concludes, are societies in which stability is an impossibility--an observation that may disappoint utopians, but that helps explain some of the world's peculiarities.
  3. Perhaps no human alive knows more about the great apes than does Frans de Waal. With The Ape and the Sushi Master, he ably shows that he knows a great deal about humans, too. Students of biology, culture, and communication will find much food for thought in his pages.
    … Gregory McNamee
Synopsis
  1. Primatologists Frans de Waal has published a number of books on chimpanzee behaviour, including "Peacemaking Among Primates". In The Ape and The Sushi Master the author continues his explorations of human and primate culture in order to arrive at a better understanding of the roots of human behaviour. De Waal's study examines whether animals learn from one another and have what he defines as "culture", or whether their actions are purely based on genetics and instinct.

BOOK COMMENT:

2001



"De Waal (Frans) - The Apes’ Tea Party"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Preface



"De Waal (Frans) - The Whole Animal: Childhood Talismans and Excessive Fear of Anthropomorphism"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 1



"De Waal (Frans) - The Fate of Gurus: When Silverbacks Become Stumbling Blocks"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 2



"De Waal (Frans) - Bonobos and Fig Leaves: Primate Hippies in a Puritan Landscape"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 3



"De Waal (Frans) - Animal Art: Would You Hang a Congo on the Wall?"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 4



"De Waal (Frans) - Predicting Mount Fuji, and a Visit to Koshima, Where the Monkeys Salt Their Potatoes"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 5



"De Waal (Frans) - The Last Rubicon: Can Other Animals Have Culture?"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 6



"De Waal (Frans) - The Nutcracker Suite: Reliance on Culture in Nature"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 7



"De Waal (Frans) - Cultural Naturals: Tea and Tibetan Macaques"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 8



"De Waal (Frans) - Apes with Self-Esteem: Abraham Maslow and the Taboo on Power"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 9



"De Waal (Frans) - Survival of the Kindest: Of Selfish Genes and Unselfish Dogs"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 10



"De Waal (Frans) - Down with Dualism! Two Millennia of Debate About Human Goodness"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Chapter 11



"De Waal (Frans) - The Squirrel's Jump"

Source: De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, 2001, Epilogue



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  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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