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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The God of the Gaps

The idea that human beings have been endowed with powers and properties not found elsewhere in the animal kingdom—or, so far we can tell, in the universe—arises from a simple impulse: just look around. It is an impulse that handily survives the fraternal invitation to consider the great apes. The apes are, after all, behind the bars of their cages, and we are not. Eager for the experiments to begin, they are also impatient for their food to be served, and they seem impatient for little else. After undergoing years of punishing trials at the hands of determined clinicians, a few have been taught the rudiments of various primitive symbol systems. Having been given the gift of language, they have nothing to say. When two simian prodigies meet, they fling their placards at each other. More is expected, but more is rarely forthcoming. Experiments—and they are exquisite—conducted by Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth indicate that like other mammals, baboons have a rich inner world. Simian social structures are often intricate. Chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas reason; they form plans; they have preferences; they are cunning; they have passions and desires; and they suffer. In much of this, we see ourselves. But beyond what we have in common with the apes, we have nothing in common, and while the similarities are interesting, the differences are profound.


Posted by Ajay :: 5:11 PM :: 0 comments

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