Frans de Waal Quotes.
Human morality is unthinkable without empathy.
The whole reason people fill their homes with furry carnivores and not with, say, iguanas and turtles, is because mammals offer something no reptile ever will. They give affection, they want affection, and respond to our emotions the way we do to theirs.
It is well known that apes in the wild offer spontaneous assistance to each other, defending against leopards, say, or consoling distressed companions with tender embraces.
People want to work with somebody who feels shame, who worries about the perceptions of others. Dishonesty is something we don’t like in others.
To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us.
Male bonobos really don’t fit the human male ideal.
Religion may have become a codification of morality, and it may fortify it, but it’s not the origin of it.
After World War II it was decided that, in order to prevent the Germans and the French from having another war, it would be better to tie them together into one economic pact so they would invest in each other and have mutual stakes. Until now, that has worked to prevent warfare between the two.
Closeness to animals creates the desire to understand them, and not just a little piece of them, but the whole animal. It makes us wonder what goes on in their heads even though we fully realize that the answer can only be approximated.
Octopuses have hundreds of suckers, each one equipped with its own ganglion with thousands of neurons. These ‘mini-brains’ are interconnected, making for a widely distributed nervous system. That is why a severed octopus arm may crawl on its own and even pick up food.
Empathy as a complex emotion is different. It requires awareness of the other person’s feelings and of one’s own reactions. The appropriate reaction may not be to cry when another person cries, but to reassure them, or even to leave them alone.
The original form is the contagion of fear and alarm. You’re in a flock of birds. One bird suddenly takes off. You have no time to wait and see what’s going on. You take off, too. Otherwise, you’re lunch.
Chimpanzees, typically, kiss and embrace after fights. They first make eye contact from a distance to see the mood of the others. Then they approach and kiss and embrace.
There is little evidence that other animals judge the appropriateness of actions that do not directly affect themselves.
Male chimpanzees have an extraordinarily strong drive for dominance. They’re constantly jockeying for position.
The more self-aware an animal is, the more empathetic it tends to be.
We are by far the most contradictory of all primates. An animal with this much internal conflict has never lived on this earth.
There are many reasons for kindness, and religion is just one of them.
We are territorial, power-hungry and even more brutal than chimpanzees.
Future benefits rarely figure in the minds of animals.
Religions have a strong binding function and a cohesive element. They emphasize the primacy of the community as opposed to the individual, and they also help set one community apart from another that doesn’t share their beliefs.
War is evitable if conditions are such that the costs of making war are higher than the benefits.
Chimpanzees have very strong preferences and aversions that are completely personality-linked. The people who are unsuccessful in working with chimpanzees are those who take this personally.
The fact that the apes exist and that we can study them is extremely important and makes us reflect on ourselves and our human nature. In that sense alone, you need to protect the apes.
I think the sense of fairness in humans is very strongly developed, and that’s why we react so strongly to all the bonuses received by Wall Street executives. We want to know why they deserve these benefits.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I am wary of any persons whose belief system is the only thing standing between them and repulsive behavior.
The possibility that empathy resides in parts of the brain so ancient that we share them with rats should give pause to anyone comparing politicians with those poor, underestimated creatures.
If you look at human society, it is very easy, of course, to compare our warfare and territoriality with the chimpanzee. But that’s only one side of what we do. We also trade, we intermarry, we allow each other to travel through our territory. There’s an enormous amount of cooperation.
One thing bothered me as a student. In the 1960s, human behavior was totally off limits for the biologist. There was animal behavior, then there was a long time nothing, after which came human behavior as a totally separate category best left to a different group of scientists.
You should know as much as you can about the human species if you have a hand in designing human society.
I have often noticed how primate groups in their entirety enter a similar mood. All of a sudden, all of them are playful, hopping around. Or all of them are grumpy. Or all of them are sleepy and settle down. In such cases, the mood contagion serves the function of synchronizing activities.
Chimps don’t have language. Humans actively instruct others about how things should be done. Chimpanzees probably pick up cultural traditions by observation.
Humans have a lot of pro-social tendencies.
I am personally not against keeping animals at zoos, as they serve a huge educational purpose, but treating them well and with respect seems the least we could do, and with ‘we’ I mean not just zoo staff, but most certainly also the public.
We need to separate the process of evolution – which is, indeed, a self-serving process – and the actual motivations of animals.
I was raised Catholic. Not just a little bit Catholic, like my wife, Catherine. When she was young, many Catholics in France already barely went to church, except for the big three: baptism, marriage, and funeral. And only the middle one was by choice.
When humans behave murderously, such as inflicting senseless slaughter of innocents in warfare, we like to blame it on some dark, ‘animalistic’ instinct.
Dogmatists have one advantage: they are poor listeners.
If you look at national economies today, for example, the American economy, the European economy, the Indians, the Chinese, we’re all tied together. If one of them sinks, the rest are going to sink with them and if one floats, the rest are lifted up. I find that very interesting.
Sometimes I read about someone saying with great authority that animals have no intentions and no feelings, and I wonder, ‘Doesn’t this guy have a dog?’
The enemy of science is not religion. Religion comes in endless shapes and forms… The true enemy is the substitution of thought, reflection, and curiosity with dogma.
It is hard to get animals which normally pay little attention to each other to do things together. One can teach dolphins to jump simultaneously out of the water precisely because they show similar behavior spontaneously, but try to make two domestic cats jump together and you will fail.
Exclusive homosexuality is not very common in nature.
The term ‘alpha female’ originated in my field of animal behavior, but has acquired new meaning. It refers to women who are in charge, for example, by flirting and dating on their own terms. It is also used maliciously for a loud-mouthed, controlling woman who has no patience with deviating opinions.
You need to indoctrinate empathy out of people in order to arrive at extreme capitalist positions.
The role of inequity in society is grossly underestimated. Inequity is not good for your health, basically.
There are beautiful examples of art done by chimpanzees in human care.
It wasn’t God who introduced us to morality; rather, it was the other way around. God was put into place to help us live the way we felt we ought to.
Very ancient parts of the brain are involved in moral decision making.
Religion looms as large as an elephant in the United States, to the point that being nonreligious is about the biggest handicap a politician running for office can have, bigger than being gay, unmarried, thrice married, or black.