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"An important and timely message about the biological roots of human kindness." —Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape Are we our brothers' keepers? Do we have an instinct for compassion? Or are we, as is often assumed, only on earth to serve our own survival and interests? In this thought-provoking book, the acclaimed author of Our Inner Ape examines how empathy comes nat "An important and timely message about the biological roots of human kindness." —Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape Are we our brothers' keepers? Do we have an instinct for compassion? Or are we, as is often assumed, only on earth to serve our own survival and interests? In this thought-provoking book, the acclaimed author of Our Inner Ape examines how empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans. By studying social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution, Frans de Waal demonstrates that animals–and humans–are "preprogrammed to reach out." He has found that chimpanzees care for mates that are wounded by leopards, elephants offer "reassuring rumbles" to youngsters in distress, and dolphins support sick companions near the water's surface to prevent them from drowning. From day one humans have innate sensitivities to faces, bodies, and voices; we've been designed to feel for one another. De Waal's theory runs counter to the assumption that humans are inherently selfish, which can be seen in the fields of politics, law, and finance, and which seems to be evidenced by the current greed-driven stock market collapse. But he cites the public's outrage at the U.S. government's lack of empathy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a significant shift in perspective–one that helped Barack Obama become elected and ushered in what may well become an Age of Empathy. Through a better understanding of empathy's survival value in evolution, de Waal suggests, we can work together toward a more just society based on a more generous and accurate view of human nature. Written in layman's prose with a wealth of anecdotes, wry humor, and incisive intelligence, The Age of Empathy is essential reading for our embattled times.


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"An important and timely message about the biological roots of human kindness." —Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape Are we our brothers' keepers? Do we have an instinct for compassion? Or are we, as is often assumed, only on earth to serve our own survival and interests? In this thought-provoking book, the acclaimed author of Our Inner Ape examines how empathy comes nat "An important and timely message about the biological roots of human kindness." —Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape Are we our brothers' keepers? Do we have an instinct for compassion? Or are we, as is often assumed, only on earth to serve our own survival and interests? In this thought-provoking book, the acclaimed author of Our Inner Ape examines how empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans. By studying social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution, Frans de Waal demonstrates that animals–and humans–are "preprogrammed to reach out." He has found that chimpanzees care for mates that are wounded by leopards, elephants offer "reassuring rumbles" to youngsters in distress, and dolphins support sick companions near the water's surface to prevent them from drowning. From day one humans have innate sensitivities to faces, bodies, and voices; we've been designed to feel for one another. De Waal's theory runs counter to the assumption that humans are inherently selfish, which can be seen in the fields of politics, law, and finance, and which seems to be evidenced by the current greed-driven stock market collapse. But he cites the public's outrage at the U.S. government's lack of empathy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a significant shift in perspective–one that helped Barack Obama become elected and ushered in what may well become an Age of Empathy. Through a better understanding of empathy's survival value in evolution, de Waal suggests, we can work together toward a more just society based on a more generous and accurate view of human nature. Written in layman's prose with a wealth of anecdotes, wry humor, and incisive intelligence, The Age of Empathy is essential reading for our embattled times.

30 review for The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society

  1. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    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 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    You've got to love a book about primates that has chapter headings with quotes by Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant. And that's why this book is so exceptional, it makes you reconsider what is so special about our species in the first place and whether the Western concept of human exceptionalism is even a healthy trait to begin with. Are concepts of justice, equality and empathy really glorious creations of the enlightenment or are they simply labels for phenomena that occur across the animal kingdom? You've got to love a book about primates that has chapter headings with quotes by Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant. And that's why this book is so exceptional, it makes you reconsider what is so special about our species in the first place and whether the Western concept of human exceptionalism is even a healthy trait to begin with. Are concepts of justice, equality and empathy really glorious creations of the enlightenment or are they simply labels for phenomena that occur across the animal kingdom? Frans de Waal really opens our eyes to the true meaning of evolution and he does so in a noncondescending yet completely brilliant manner.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Francisco

    Every once in a while, when your heart is heavy with all the fighting and hatred and envy and competition and the nastiness of your fellow humans, it is good to read about the kindness of other animals (besides man). Yes, there is plenty of cruelty in nature but there is also cooperation, compassion and loyalty. It's so fascinating (and so healing) to read example after example of animals caring for each other. Oh, and Franz de Waal, a biologist, writes with humor and clarity. Every once in a while, when your heart is heavy with all the fighting and hatred and envy and competition and the nastiness of your fellow humans, it is good to read about the kindness of other animals (besides man). Yes, there is plenty of cruelty in nature but there is also cooperation, compassion and loyalty. It's so fascinating (and so healing) to read example after example of animals caring for each other. Oh, and Franz de Waal, a biologist, writes with humor and clarity.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cameron

    Reading this book constantly reminded me of our arrogance to consider that animals are not conscious, feeling beings. The author, a primatologist, does a great job recounting decades of animal research to back up his claim that both humans and our related animal cousins have a long history of community, social structure and organization, and responsibility to that community. He does an excellent job providing empirical research evidence that demonstrates that many species, particularly the great Reading this book constantly reminded me of our arrogance to consider that animals are not conscious, feeling beings. The author, a primatologist, does a great job recounting decades of animal research to back up his claim that both humans and our related animal cousins have a long history of community, social structure and organization, and responsibility to that community. He does an excellent job providing empirical research evidence that demonstrates that many species, particularly the great apes, clearly show empathy towards one another; including caring for each other, sharing resources (sex too!), and playing politics. He makes the case that the source of our own empathic emotions are shared with our cousins dating back millions of years, perhaps tens of millions of years. This is a wonderful book if you love animals, believe that animals share our emotions, or care to learn more about how and why we developed our sense of caring for one another member of our species.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hákon Gunnarsson

    This is the second book by Frans de Waal that I read, and I like his work so much that he is fast becoming one of my favorite non fiction writer. He is very good at writing about animals, and the research that is being done into their behavior, a subject that I’m quite interested in. He does it with a lot of anecdotes, and lot of reference to scientific research, in a writing style that is never dry. In this book he is looking into animal emotions, but there is a twist. This book is written in t This is the second book by Frans de Waal that I read, and I like his work so much that he is fast becoming one of my favorite non fiction writer. He is very good at writing about animals, and the research that is being done into their behavior, a subject that I’m quite interested in. He does it with a lot of anecdotes, and lot of reference to scientific research, in a writing style that is never dry. In this book he is looking into animal emotions, but there is a twist. This book is written in the midst of the banking crisis that started in 2007, and he looks, among other things, into “economic” relationships between animals. The outcome is quite interesting. He is of course not the first writer to put up the parallel between humans and the way nature works, survival of the fittest and all that, but he has the science to back up his claims about how work and reward works in relationships in nature.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Frans de Waal is (almost) singlehandedly turning upside down the long-held notion of humans (and other animals) as supremely selfish, concerned only with their own survival, and perhaps survival of their offspring. de Waal finds instead huge amounts of empathy, cooperation, and concern amongst species, amongst tribal and other groups, and amongst families. de Waal has studied primates for years, and just about everything we thought was unique to humans also shows up in monkeys. They can count, t Frans de Waal is (almost) singlehandedly turning upside down the long-held notion of humans (and other animals) as supremely selfish, concerned only with their own survival, and perhaps survival of their offspring. de Waal finds instead huge amounts of empathy, cooperation, and concern amongst species, amongst tribal and other groups, and amongst families. de Waal has studied primates for years, and just about everything we thought was unique to humans also shows up in monkeys. They can count, they share, they can admire themselves in the mirror, they can deceive other primates -- and so on down the list. Years ago there was a theory about what sets humans apart known as "homo ludens" -- in other words, we're different because we're the animal that laughs. Well, after reading de Waal's groundbreaking book, you'd be hard put to find anything that humans do that the other primates (and probably birds and even rats) can't do almost as well.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Murali Behara

    Indeed it is extraordinary how the horses and sled-dogs cooperate with each other and act in unison drawing the carriage or the sled at breakneck speeds, on cross-country pathways! Especially the blind-husky, Isobel who ran the lead tandem?! In Dutch bicycle-culture, it is very common for boys to offer girls a ride, because the girls have to hold on tight, and also lean with the rider says, Dr. Frans de Waal, who is a Dutchman himself, who continues, "On motorcycles this is even more critical. T Indeed it is extraordinary how the horses and sled-dogs cooperate with each other and act in unison drawing the carriage or the sled at breakneck speeds, on cross-country pathways! Especially the blind-husky, Isobel who ran the lead tandem?! In Dutch bicycle-culture, it is very common for boys to offer girls a ride, because the girls have to hold on tight, and also lean with the rider says, Dr. Frans de Waal, who is a Dutchman himself, who continues, "On motorcycles this is even more critical. Their higher speed requires, deeper tilt in turns and lack of coordination can be disastrous. The passenger is a true partner in ride....". Very True! Guess for the same reason, I find partner-dancing (eg. Tango) so interesting (pardon my little digression). Another fascinating true story the author relates is apparently published in the Journal of New England Medicine. This was about Oscar the tom cat who made his rounds in a geriatric clinic in Providence, RI. The cat sniffed and observed each patient, strolling from room to room. When he decided someone is about to die, he curled up besides them, purring and gently nuzzling them. He left the room only after the patient has taken his/her last breath! Here are some of the salient things in author's own words, that I've book-marked, and hope to recount for a very long time. "The appeal that elephants hold for humans is nothing less than astonishing and already witnessed in ancient Rome, not a place for squeamishness. Pliny the elder describes the way the crowd reacted to 20 elephants being savaged in an arena. When they had lost all hope of escape, they tried gain compassion of crowd, by indescribable gestures of entreaty, deploring their fate with sort of wailing, so much to the distress of public... that the public rose in body, bursting into tears and in unison started cursing the generals and heads of Pompeii. We humans are complex characters who form social hierarchies naturally, but at the same time we have an aversion to them and readily sympathize with others, unless we are threatened. We tolerate differences in income and standards of living, only up to a degree. We have deeply ingrained sense of fairness. The faith Danes(ref. people from Denmark), put in one another is called social capital, which may well be the most precious capital there is. In survey after survey, Danes have the world's highest happiness score. I saw people in America living in the kind of poverty that I knew only from the 3rd world! How could the richest nation in the world permit this? It became worse for me when I discovered that poor kids go to poor schools. How can a society claim equal opportunity, if location of one's birth determines quality of one's education and eventually quality of one's life. The obscene earnings of top 1% is back to the great depression levels and we have become, a winner takes all society, with an income gap that seriously threatens the social fabric. Europe is a more livable place and it lacks the giant under-educated, under-class of the United States. Marxism is founded on an illusion of culturally engineered human. Similar illusion plagued the US feminist movement, assuming gender roles are ready for a complete overhaul! The greatest problem today, of different groups rubbing shoulders on a crowded planet, is excessive loyalty to one's own nation, one's own ethnic-group, and one's own religion. Humans are capable of deep disdain for anyone who looks different or thinks in another way. When push comes to shove, groups do not hesitate to eliminate another! When asked about Iraqi civilian casualties, Donald Rumsfeld once said, well we do not do body counts on 'other people'. Fostering empathy is not made easy by the entrenched opinion, in Law schools, Business schools and Political corridors, that we are essentially competitive animals. Conservatives who champion social Darwinism, miss the point by a mile, that we are deeply and innately social animals! Empathy is a part of our evolution. Humans must be biologically equipped to function effectively in many social situations without undue reliance on cognitive processes. Ultimately the reluctance to talk about animal emotions has less to do with science than with religion, and particularly the religions that arose in isolation from animals! With monkeys and apes around every corner, no rain-forest culture has ever produced a religion, that puts humans outside of nature! Similarly in the east, surrounded by native primates in India and China, religions don't draw a sharp line between humans and other animals. Men may reincarnate as animals, and animals may attain divinity, like the monkey god Hanumaan. Only the Judeo-Christian religions place humans on a pedestal making them the only species with a soul. It is not hard to see how the desert nomads might have arrived at this view. Without animals holding up a mirror to them, the notion we are alone came naturally to them. They saw themselves as created in God's image and only intelligent life on the planet. It is extremely telling how westerners reacted when they finally got to see animals capable of challenging these notions! All of this occurred after western religion spread it's human exceptional-ism to all corners of the world. Empathy engages brain areas that are more than a hundred million years old. Evolution added layer after layer, until our ancestors felt what others felt and also understood what others might want or need. It is put like a Russian doll. Called the 5th horseman of apocalypse, dehumanization has a long history of excusing atrocities. Although men are violent and territorial, men clearly do have empathy. Cross cultural studies claim female brains are more hardwired for empathy but men can be just as empathetic as women. Why does the 'dismal science' attract so few female students and never produced a female Nobelist?! Could it be that women don't feel any connection to the caricature of a rational being, whose only goal in life, is to maximize profit? Where are human relations in all of this. Every individual is connected to something larger than itself. Those who depict this as contrived and not part of biology, don't have the latest neurological data on their side! The connection is deeply felt! The role of compassion in society is not one of sacrificing time and money to relive the plight of others but also to push political agenda to elevate human dignity! One instrument that greatly enriches our thinking has been selected by ages, which means tested over and over with regard to it's survival value. That is our capacity to connect to and understand others and make their situation our own, the way Lincoln did when he came eye to eye with shackled-slaves in Ohio. To call upon this inborn capacity is only to any society's advantage" Hence 4-stars!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Is it just me, or does current non-fiction contain way too many personal anecdotes. Do I really care about something that happened to your brother-in-law? "Hot, Crowded, and Flat" was chock full of them. The difference between that work and "The Age of Empathy" is that there is some actual science behind de Waal's work. The "Age of Empathy" is really about several different emotions and traits thought to be uniquely human like empathy, sympathy, self awareness, sense of fair play, and egalitaria Is it just me, or does current non-fiction contain way too many personal anecdotes. Do I really care about something that happened to your brother-in-law? "Hot, Crowded, and Flat" was chock full of them. The difference between that work and "The Age of Empathy" is that there is some actual science behind de Waal's work. The "Age of Empathy" is really about several different emotions and traits thought to be uniquely human like empathy, sympathy, self awareness, sense of fair play, and egalitarianism. The author outlines examples from the animal world that show these characteristics to be anything but unique. Most of the examples are with Chimpanzees which are of course our closest relative, but there are also interesting studies with elephants, crows, dogs, etc. I thought this book started out strong, was a little weak in the middle, but finished up extremely strong. The section on human egalitarianism was particularly fascinating. Egalitarianism is a trait we do not share with Chimpanzees. Chimps have a far more hierarchical social system. De Waal related a story about an alpha chimp who was blustering up to a big dominance display. Right in the middle of it, he comically slipped on a tree branch. De Waal was observing and laughed out loud, but he noticed none of the chimps did. They were all dead serious. Humans admire and respect there leaders, but also like to see them fall a peg or two on occasion. De Wall also finished with a great comparison of Europe and America from an immigrants point of view. He stressed that of the three pillars of the French Revolution "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", The US always emphasized the first, Europe the second, but a truly happy society would probably focus on Fraternity. Another enlightening bit came in his conclusion where he described why religion has such a hard time accepting evolution. He states that only the monotheistic religions of the middle east are so fixated on human uniqueness where African and Asian religions do not draw such a hard line between humans and nature. The reason? There are no apes in the middle east. To the founders of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, we did indeed appear unique and special.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Richard Williams

    borrow the book, read chapter 7, "crooked timber" for an excellent summary of what the author intents us to understand from his book. then read the whole thing. worthwhile reading. the genre: science with a social purpose. first, to show us the latest science of empathy, and second to dispel the idea that humans are so unique to be a mountain range emerging from the plains of other creatures, but rather we are like a high peak surrounded by smaller ones, then foothills, then lower hills. those cr borrow the book, read chapter 7, "crooked timber" for an excellent summary of what the author intents us to understand from his book. then read the whole thing. worthwhile reading. the genre: science with a social purpose. first, to show us the latest science of empathy, and second to dispel the idea that humans are so unique to be a mountain range emerging from the plains of other creatures, but rather we are like a high peak surrounded by smaller ones, then foothills, then lower hills. those creatures like us; great apes, whales, dogs etc, differ not as much in kind but in amount. it's an easy but interesting and informative read, don't let the label science distract you, written for that mythical average educated reader, it's consciously aimed to teach and to be rememberable, the author wants people to use what they learn from him and for us use it to alter our world to better shape it to what people are really like, versus false notions of human nature, not based on science but wishful thinking.. which is the theme, understand what we are like as a result of evolutionary pressures, by a study not only of people but of our nearer relatives, chimps etc, then use those lessons to understand how we live together in community through the essential elements of empathy. it's a good, most relevant book given the political demands of the right for dog eat dog unfettered capitalism, which the author notes in the last chapter but doesn't seem to enter into the analysis early, good thing, science as straight as possible without a lot of commentary.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jenni Holland

    The Age of Empathy delves into social, economic, and political concerns of our time. By unlocking the the science of empathy in all mammals, Frans de Waal challenges the notion that greed and aggression are the dominate forces of human biology and survival. He gives of a new story of mammalian evolution, in which cooperation and empathy play a prominent role. Empathy becomes a much older and primal instinct, and much more relevant to our species. Waal knocks down those who use the idea of "survi The Age of Empathy delves into social, economic, and political concerns of our time. By unlocking the the science of empathy in all mammals, Frans de Waal challenges the notion that greed and aggression are the dominate forces of human biology and survival. He gives of a new story of mammalian evolution, in which cooperation and empathy play a prominent role. Empathy becomes a much older and primal instinct, and much more relevant to our species. Waal knocks down those who use the idea of "survival of the fittest" to excuse their behavior. From CEO's to politicians, religious leaders to economists Waal shows how social Darwinism has been used to defend greed and freeloading. He also points to how these policies have failed our society as we experienced in the hosing and banking crises, the fall of CEO's like Kenneth Lay, and trickle down economics. All the while connecting these human experiences to the experience of empathy in primate societies. It is fascinating to read about the advances in science that are changing our understanding of animal cognition and emotion. It turns out that animals are much more like 'us' than we thought. So much of what we thought we knew was wrong and limited by poor experimental design. The distinction between human and ape is becoming more gray than black and white. There is so much to think about and talk about after reading this book. It makes connections to so many different areas. I highly recommend it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I read this for our "science book club" meeting, and we all agreed that this book was not up to snuff. It was like they sat the author down in a comfy chair and said "Just start talking, we'll put your ramblings together into a book." There was not structure or framework to the book -- no overriding thesis (other than maybe "empathy is good, chimps have empathy, people should be more empathetic" -- so it was difficult to pull apart and analyze his arguments. He doesn't present enough scientific I read this for our "science book club" meeting, and we all agreed that this book was not up to snuff. It was like they sat the author down in a comfy chair and said "Just start talking, we'll put your ramblings together into a book." There was not structure or framework to the book -- no overriding thesis (other than maybe "empathy is good, chimps have empathy, people should be more empathetic" -- so it was difficult to pull apart and analyze his arguments. He doesn't present enough scientific context/background to give the reader a sense of what is generally accepted in the field, where there are disagreements, and where his personal beliefs intersect with what science has proved. And he makes huge leaps between observation ("I once saw a monkey give another monkey a hug") and lessons for mankind ("the election of Barack Obama is ushering in a new era of cooperation and mankind is on the brink of a new evolutionary step of civilization!"). If I had been reading this for pleasure, I might have enjoyed the author's reminiscences and stories more. But as a critical reader trying to understand how empathy in animals play out, and what impact this has for mankind, I was left extremely underwhelmed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Chimps have it. Elephants have it. Wolves have it. De Waal suggests the reason we don’t recognize that empathy imbues at least the mammalian world is because of the Western world’s religious insistence that humans are outside of nature. He reports that when Queen Victoria first saw apes, she called them “frightful, and painfully and disagreeably human.’” (207). Lot lurking in that queenly observation. De Waal believes that “empathy is a part of a heritage as ancient as the mammalian line. Empath Chimps have it. Elephants have it. Wolves have it. De Waal suggests the reason we don’t recognize that empathy imbues at least the mammalian world is because of the Western world’s religious insistence that humans are outside of nature. He reports that when Queen Victoria first saw apes, she called them “frightful, and painfully and disagreeably human.’” (207). Lot lurking in that queenly observation. De Waal believes that “empathy is a part of a heritage as ancient as the mammalian line. Empathy engages brain areas that are more than a hundred million years old. The capacity arose long ago with motor mimicry and emotional contagion, after which evolution added layer after layer, until our ancestors not only felt what others felt, but understood what others might want or need.” (208). He suggests that empathy is like a Russian doll, with shells that fine tune and deepen its reach, and that psychopaths seem to have the shells without the “old mammalian core.” (211). De Waal is not a fan of Ayn Rand.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    This is the first book I’ve read by Frans de Waal. It is written in simple, accessible language and is positively stuffed with provocative ideas and anecdotal stories. The premise, that empathetic behaviors and tendencies predate our evolutionary pedigree, directly addresses underrepresented views in both evolutionary biology as well as popular conceptions of our own animal nature. I found his unapologetic attitude about the political implications of his work to be personally refreshing and scie This is the first book I’ve read by Frans de Waal. It is written in simple, accessible language and is positively stuffed with provocative ideas and anecdotal stories. The premise, that empathetic behaviors and tendencies predate our evolutionary pedigree, directly addresses underrepresented views in both evolutionary biology as well as popular conceptions of our own animal nature. I found his unapologetic attitude about the political implications of his work to be personally refreshing and scientifically defensible. However, here’s what really sells the book: in casual conversation I found myself repeatedly (and indirectly) referencing “The Age of Empathy” as a touchstone for an astonishing array of tangential interdisciplinary topics. My only complaint is that I would have preferred a longer, more complex book on the subject.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lauragais

    Frans de Waal and Tanja Singer - The book "The Age of Empathy" is a light in the dark - there is no justification treating another living creature in contemptuous ways. Tanja Singer proves that empathy can be trained and learned and become part of our thinking and acting. We do not need to treat others badly to have personal gain. A very worthwhile thought, giving us hope that there is indeed a way to improve ourselves and make life more peaceful. Frans de Waal and Tanja Singer - The book "The Age of Empathy" is a light in the dark - there is no justification treating another living creature in contemptuous ways. Tanja Singer proves that empathy can be trained and learned and become part of our thinking and acting. We do not need to treat others badly to have personal gain. A very worthwhile thought, giving us hope that there is indeed a way to improve ourselves and make life more peaceful.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Book

    The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society By Frans de Waal “The Age of Empathy” is an interesting look at human empathy and what it can teach us how in becoming a better society. Dutch/American biologist with a Ph.D. in zoology and ethology and author of Our Inner Ape and others, Frans de Waal, takes the reader on a journey of empathy and its long evolutionary history. This provocative 306-page book includes the following seven chapters: 1. Biology, Left and Right, 2. The Other Da The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society By Frans de Waal “The Age of Empathy” is an interesting look at human empathy and what it can teach us how in becoming a better society. Dutch/American biologist with a Ph.D. in zoology and ethology and author of Our Inner Ape and others, Frans de Waal, takes the reader on a journey of empathy and its long evolutionary history. This provocative 306-page book includes the following seven chapters: 1. Biology, Left and Right, 2. The Other Darwinism, 3. Bodies Talking to Bodies, 4. Someone Else’s Shoes, 5. The Elephant in the Room, 6. Fair Is Fair, and 7. Crooked Timber. Positives: 1. Engaging and well-written book that is accessible to the masses. 2. A fascinating topic in the hands of a subject matter expert, empathy. 3. Entertaining and insightful. The book is easy to follow. Professor de Waal is fair and even handed. 4. Includes sketches that complement the excellent narrative. 5. Format is easy to follow. Each chapter begins with a chapter-appropriate quote. 6. Clearly defines the main premise of this book. “There is both a social and a selfish side to our species. But since the latter is, at least in the West, the dominant assumption, my focus will be on the former: the role of empathy and social connectedness.” 7. Provocative ideas. “This is not to say that monkeys and apes are moral beings, but I do agree with Darwin, who, in The Descent of Man, saw human morality as derived from animal sociality.” “We descend from a long line of group-living primates with a high degree of interdependence.” 8. There are some statements that resonate and leave a mark. “At times of danger, we forget what divides us.” 9. Modern evolutionary theories. “Mutual aid has become a standard ingredient of modern evolutionary theories, albeit not exactly in the way Kropotkin formulated it. Like Darwin, he believed that cooperative groups of animals (or humans) would outperform less cooperative ones. In other words, the ability to function in a group and build a support network is a crucial survival skill.” 10. The link between empathy and kindness. “There exists in fact no obligatory connection between empathy and kindness, and no animal can afford treating everyone nicely all the time.” 11. Discusses key concepts such as yawn contagion. “Yawn contagion reflects the power of unconscious synchrony, which is as deeply ingrained in us as in many other animals.” 12. The importance of mimicry. “Not only do we mimic those with whom we identify, but mimicry in turn strengthens the bond.” 13. Sympathy versus empathy. “If Yoni were human, we’d speak of sympathy. Sympathy differs from empathy in that it is proactive. Empathy is the process by which we gather information about someone else. Sympathy, in contrast, reflects concern about the other and a desire to improve the other’s situation.” 14. Examples given of altruism in apes. 15. Helpful advice. “In 2006, a major health organization advised American business travelers to refrain from finger-pointing altogether, since so many cultures consider it rude.” 16. The concept of mutualism. “This suggests mutualism and reciprocity as the basis of cooperation, thus placing chimps much closer to humans than to the social insects.” 17. Income inequality, say what? “He believes that income gaps produce social gaps. They tear societies apart by reducing mutual trust, increasing violence, and inducing anxieties that compromise the immune system of both the rich and the poor. Negative effects permeate the entire society.” 18. The reality of empathy. “Empathy for “other people” is the one commodity the world is lacking more than oil.” 19. Evolution in a nutshell. “We may not be able to create a New Man, but we’re remarkably good at modifying the old one.” 20. Notes and bibliography included. Negatives: 1. In a world looking for black and white conclusions this book offers a lot of gray areas that may not be as satisfying. 2. Repetitive. 3. Hard to live up to some of his other books. 4. Conservative-minded readers may have a tough time dealing with de Waal’s liberal bias. In summary, this was a solid accessible book. Professor De Waal succeeds in educating the public on empathy. His mastery of the topic is admirable and is careful to be grounded on the facts and not to oversell an idea. Some minor quibbles like redundancy and many gray areas keep it from scoring higher but overall a worthwhile read. I recommend it! Further recommendations: “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?”, “The Bonobo and the Atheist”, “Our Inner Ape”, “Chimpanzee Politics” by the same author, “Animal Wise: How We Know Animals Think and Feel” by Virginia Morell, “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect” by Mathew D. Lieberman, “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel” by Carl Safina, “The Soul of an Octopus” by Sy Montgomery, “Animal Wise” by Virginia Morell, “Zoobiquity” by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, “The Secret Lives of Bats” by Merlin Tuttle, and “Last Ape Standing” by Chip Walter.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    Nature is well known as "red in tooth and claw." Yet many organisms exhibit remarkable cooperative behavior: 1. A cat makes daily rounds in a geriatric clinic in Providence, Rhode Island, sniffing and observing each patient, and then selecting one to curl up and purr beside. The cat has nurtured at least 25 patients, sensing with uncanny accuracy when one is about to die . 2. In an experiment at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, chimpanzees at a sanctuary in Uganda were shown a human u Nature is well known as "red in tooth and claw." Yet many organisms exhibit remarkable cooperative behavior: 1. A cat makes daily rounds in a geriatric clinic in Providence, Rhode Island, sniffing and observing each patient, and then selecting one to curl up and purr beside. The cat has nurtured at least 25 patients, sensing with uncanny accuracy when one is about to die . 2. In an experiment at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, chimpanzees at a sanctuary in Uganda were shown a human unsuccessfully reaching through some bars for a plastic stick. Many of the tested chimps spontaneously came to help the person by picking up the item and handing it to them. They were not "trained" or "rewarded" for this assistance. The results held even when the experimenters increased the cost of helping, by requiring the chimps to climb a platform to retrieve the stick. 3. As a result of an explosion off the coast of Florida in 1954, a bottlenose dolphin was observed to be stunned -- it surfaced, listing badly to one side. Soon two other dolphins came to its side, buoying it to the surface in an apparent effort to allow it to breathe while it remained partially stunned, until their companion had recovered. 4. In 2005, a female humpback whale was spotted off the coast of California entangled in (and being injured by) some nylon ropes. Divers from a rescue team spent about one hour in a difficult (and treacherous) job of disentangling the whale. When the whale finally realized she was free, she swam in a large circle and nuzzled each diver in succession, evidently thanking them for their help. These and numerous other examples that de Waal cites demonstrate clearly the author's point that nature is much more than "red in tooth in claw," but instead can teach us humans a great deal in how to cooperate and understand each other in an increasingly polarized world.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Empathy, argues Dr. De Waal, is not unique to humans. It is, instead, something that can be found throughout the animal kingdom in a variety of forms, and we humans are remiss to not look at the positive traits we share with animals. I’ve heard plenty about the negative traits we share with animals, and it was fascinating (and refreshing) to read the opposite spin – that getting in touch with our animalistic instincts can, in fact, be a very good thing. This book was enlightening to me, especial Empathy, argues Dr. De Waal, is not unique to humans. It is, instead, something that can be found throughout the animal kingdom in a variety of forms, and we humans are remiss to not look at the positive traits we share with animals. I’ve heard plenty about the negative traits we share with animals, and it was fascinating (and refreshing) to read the opposite spin – that getting in touch with our animalistic instincts can, in fact, be a very good thing. This book was enlightening to me, especially because of some of the recent events that have engulfed modern society. It’s nice to be reminded that compassion, empathy, and teamwork are not weak societal constructs but are instead fundamental parts of our genetic make up and, in the end, leave us (both individually and collectively) stronger. The anecdotes Dr. De Waal uses to illustrate his points are fascinating – and yes, I know I keep using that word, but it so perfectly summarizes my feelings on this book. It’s fascinating, and it’s worth a read. Highly recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    A lot of people assume that humans are naturally selfish (see: classic economics, social darwinists, Ayn Randians, etc.) Frans de Waal tries to prove that this is not really the case, that though we may be selfish sometimes, empathy is a natural emotion that occurs in humans and even some non-humans. De Waal being a primatologist, this book focuses primarily on primates, though he does cover some other species (dolphins, whales, elephants, dogs) and humans. He makes a very convincing argument th A lot of people assume that humans are naturally selfish (see: classic economics, social darwinists, Ayn Randians, etc.) Frans de Waal tries to prove that this is not really the case, that though we may be selfish sometimes, empathy is a natural emotion that occurs in humans and even some non-humans. De Waal being a primatologist, this book focuses primarily on primates, though he does cover some other species (dolphins, whales, elephants, dogs) and humans. He makes a very convincing argument that these animals are capable of feeling empathy and even some other human-like emotions. I only wish he delved a little deeper into the implications of this fact, because there are many. For instance, how can we mesh capitalism, based on the idea that the selfish actions of individuals can create a greater good, with our knowledge that selfishness is not the natural state of humanity? I understand why he didn't want to head off too far in that direction, though it's definitely an interesting subject.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Stilwell

    Empathy and cooperation come naturally to us and play a big part in why we’re here today. Is caring for our fellow humans something that comes naturally to us? Turn on any news feed, and it seems unlikely. The truth is we likely wouldn’t be here if our default behavior was to be insensitive and uncompassionate to our fellow humans. Biology and history both support that we as humans have a strong sense of compassion and cooperation that tend to be an instinct for us. Consider parenting where empa Empathy and cooperation come naturally to us and play a big part in why we’re here today. Is caring for our fellow humans something that comes naturally to us? Turn on any news feed, and it seems unlikely. The truth is we likely wouldn’t be here if our default behavior was to be insensitive and uncompassionate to our fellow humans. Biology and history both support that we as humans have a strong sense of compassion and cooperation that tend to be an instinct for us. Consider parenting where empathy is second nature. Parents just have a natural sensitivity toward their offspring as a means to keep children healthy and safe. Imagine the fate of a helpless newborn if the parents were instinctively uncaring and dismissive. The chances of survival for the infant would be slight without outside intervention.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    I am so grateful that a scientist took it upon himself to write this book. It is an up-to-date explanation of the root of human empathy, its widespread existence among other animals, and its implications for human society. Most notably, this book concludes that there are two hands guiding human society: 1) the invisible hand of the market and 2) the hand of compassion. Scientific investigations have time and again concluded that people tend toward cooperation, a sense of fairness, and sharing mo I am so grateful that a scientist took it upon himself to write this book. It is an up-to-date explanation of the root of human empathy, its widespread existence among other animals, and its implications for human society. Most notably, this book concludes that there are two hands guiding human society: 1) the invisible hand of the market and 2) the hand of compassion. Scientific investigations have time and again concluded that people tend toward cooperation, a sense of fairness, and sharing more than they tend toward pursuing self-interest. As the world tries to comprehend and recover from economic, social, and environment tragedies, we should bear these facts in mind. Empathy is has what has kept humans going for millions of years -- ignoring it would be destructive and regretful.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shonna Froebel

    The author is a biologist who uses his studies of social behaviours in animals as a basis for the study of empathy. He argues that empathy comes naturally to humans as well as many animals. Acknowledging that there is far more research that needs to be done, he nevertheless shows that there is a solid base for further research on a variety of animals. While many have argued that humans are, by nature, selfish, looking out for themselves at the expense of others, de Waal argues against this, and The author is a biologist who uses his studies of social behaviours in animals as a basis for the study of empathy. He argues that empathy comes naturally to humans as well as many animals. Acknowledging that there is far more research that needs to be done, he nevertheless shows that there is a solid base for further research on a variety of animals. While many have argued that humans are, by nature, selfish, looking out for themselves at the expense of others, de Waal argues against this, and makes a good case. Using examples from recent history and culture, he shows the human side of this story. The animal side is shown through his own research with chimpanzees and elephants as well as the research of many other biologists. This is a compelling and hopeful book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Abigail McAlister

    This is my second Frans De Waal book and I am still incredibly impressed with his work. He does such a great job of taking complex ideas and presenting them SO clearly. He leans hard into the ethos argument, as he proves over and over his authority based on his experience working with primates. This helps to support his argument, in addition to the familial tone he writes in. I never felt talked down to, I never felt confused by his ideas or the connections he was making. I also like his repetit This is my second Frans De Waal book and I am still incredibly impressed with his work. He does such a great job of taking complex ideas and presenting them SO clearly. He leans hard into the ethos argument, as he proves over and over his authority based on his experience working with primates. This helps to support his argument, in addition to the familial tone he writes in. I never felt talked down to, I never felt confused by his ideas or the connections he was making. I also like his repetitiveness. The ideas are repeated just enough to get the point across. The idea of empathy as an ancient evolutionary adaptation is fascinating, encouraging, and supported well with research and anecdotes in this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bob Prophet

    This has become one of my favorite books, purchased in audiobook format, listened to twice. Excellent! Gave it as a gift to two people this year. This book discusses the origins of empathy and illustrates its importance in the evolution of human beings and other animals. We certainly didn't get this far by preying on one another and competing incessantly, even if that is the version of "human nature" we're peddled these days to justify and rationalize the systems and institutions currently in pl This has become one of my favorite books, purchased in audiobook format, listened to twice. Excellent! Gave it as a gift to two people this year. This book discusses the origins of empathy and illustrates its importance in the evolution of human beings and other animals. We certainly didn't get this far by preying on one another and competing incessantly, even if that is the version of "human nature" we're peddled these days to justify and rationalize the systems and institutions currently in place and their destructive impact on individuals and communities.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heather Denkmire

    There were so many variations on qualities related to empathy, it was a little overwhelming. Overall, though, the key point I appreciated was that empathy began (as did the more studied aggression and play) as a physical response. It's not some higher level function only humans possess. I'm most interested in the resistance people have to considering empathy a strength and this addresses that issue quite well. There were so many variations on qualities related to empathy, it was a little overwhelming. Overall, though, the key point I appreciated was that empathy began (as did the more studied aggression and play) as a physical response. It's not some higher level function only humans possess. I'm most interested in the resistance people have to considering empathy a strength and this addresses that issue quite well.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    What does it say about us that the primatologist is more enlightening on the human condition than pretty much anyone else?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Loose and lazy. The anecdotes rarely support clear theses let alone lessons. The whole is breathtakingly ignorant of social science and philosophy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

    Wouldn't you want to have a kinder society/world. De Waal give facts and scientific evidence that prove that empathy is innate, unconscious, and evolved in our brains, not just in humans but in most mammals. He is the world’s best- known primatologists and is a C.H. Candler professor of psychology and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Center, Atlanta, Ga. Below are.just a few interesting things I took away. He tells wonderful stories of how animals innately have e Wouldn't you want to have a kinder society/world. De Waal give facts and scientific evidence that prove that empathy is innate, unconscious, and evolved in our brains, not just in humans but in most mammals. He is the world’s best- known primatologists and is a C.H. Candler professor of psychology and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Center, Atlanta, Ga. Below are.just a few interesting things I took away. He tells wonderful stories of how animals innately have empathy, from monkeys to elephants. Elephants help each other, grieve for thier dead, have a sense of humor, have a playful fun-loving side and can cooperate and collaborate with each other and in groups. So do other animals such as monkeys, apes, baboons, macaques, whales and dolphins. Apparently, advanced empathy anchors in a sense of self, mental separation, mental mirroring, and self reflection. No animal can do without an awareness of the self for it must set its body apart and have a sense of agency in order to act to survive or feel for the other as he feels himself. All animals with mirror recognition have rare types of brain cells: dolphins, elephants and apes. Ven cells are long spindle cells that connect deeper layers of the brain. Damage to the VEN cells produce dementia involving loss of perspective taking, loss of empathy, loss of embarrassment, and a lack of humor, etc. This is just one interesting fact about how empathy is embedded in the brain. It’s easy and natural to be empathetic to those closer to one: families, communities, religions, and political groups, etc. Not so for those father away or different from us. The tough thing is to have empathy for those we conceive as different or “other”. True of different humans, but also to those we consider inferior such as animals. Frans de Waal in a very humorous way demonstrates we and animals are not so different after all. Excessive loyalty to a nation, a religion, political groups or just to the human species are all detrimental to empathy. However, He is deeply suspicious of those who try to “restructure” human nature. Failures in human societies such as Trotskys “glorious new man”, Skinners ‘behaviorism as resulted in Romanian orphans, and Marxism of the “cultured, engineered man”and the Nazi’s “ perfect man” are just a few examples of ideologies that decrease empathy and conflict. Even apes engage in conflict resolution !!! To the economic ideologies he says “Greed is out !! Empathy is In !! An entertaining, funny, informative books just full of research and facts from psychology, neurology, zoology, ethnology, and biology !!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kes

    I really enjoyed this book about the research on empathy and "how empathy comes naturally to our species". It takes a look at human society and why we band together (in particular, through Waal's research on primates). Security is the first and foremost reason for social life. This brings me to the second false origin myth: that human society is the voluntary creation of autonomous men. The illusion here is that our ancestors had no need for anybody else. They led uncommitted lives. Their only pr I really enjoyed this book about the research on empathy and "how empathy comes naturally to our species". It takes a look at human society and why we band together (in particular, through Waal's research on primates). Security is the first and foremost reason for social life. This brings me to the second false origin myth: that human society is the voluntary creation of autonomous men. The illusion here is that our ancestors had no need for anybody else. They led uncommitted lives. Their only problem was that they were so competitive that the cost of strife became unbearable. Being intelligent animals, they decided to give up a few liberties in return for community life. This origin story, proposed by French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau as the social contract, inspired America's founding fathers to create the "land of the free." It is a myth that remains immensely popular in political science departments and law schools, since it presents society as a negotiated compromise rather than something that came naturally to us. Granted, it can be instructive to look at human relations as if they resulted from an agreement among equal parties. It helps us think about how we treat, or ought to treat, one another. It's good to realize, though, that this way of framing the issue is a leftover from pre-Darwinian days, based on a totally erroneous image of our species. As is true for many mammals, every human life cycle includes stages at which we either depend on others (when we are young, old, or sick) or others depend on us (when we care for the young, old, or sick). We very much rely on one another for survival. It is this reality that ought to be taken as a starting point for any discussion about human society, not the reveries of centuries past, which depicted our ancestors as being as free as birds and lacking any social obligations. I found this to also be a rather thought-provoking book. One observation is that Americans migrated to America - which historically required a degree of individualism / risk-taking and would result in a different society (culturally). (I do note that this observation probably only applies to Americans who voluntarily migrated.) In fact, American society is entering a period of correction, given the collapse of its financial system and the dimensions of its healthcare crisis. Reliance on the profit principle has proven disastrous, so that the United States now ranks dead last in the industrialized world in terms of the quality of the health care that it provides. Western Europe, on the other hand, has enviable health care but it is, for other rrasons and in other areas, moving in the opposite direction. When citizens are pampered by the state, they lose interest in economic advancement. They become passive players more interested in taking than in giving. Some nations have already turned back the clock on the welfare state, and others are expected to follow. Every society needs to strike a balance between selfish and social motives to ensure that its economy serves society rather than the other way around. = I really like the description of emotional contagion as well: Let’s say a wild rodent hears another squeal in fear and as a result becomes fearful itself. If this causes him to flee or go into hiding, he may avoid whatever fate befell the other. Or take a rodent mother,who is upset by her offsprings’ ultrasonic distress peeps. She becomes restless herself,until she quiets her pups (and herself) by nursing them or moving them to a warmer spot. So without any deep interest in others’ welfare, just by being emotionally aroused and reacting accordingly, animals may avoid danger or take care of their young. Things don’t get any more adaptive than that. The mother who “turns off” her pups’ aversive noise by taking care of their problem is showing other-oriented behavior for self-centered reasons. I call this self-protective altruism; that is, helping another so as to shield oneself from aversive emotions. Such behavior does benefit others, yet lacks true other-orientation. s this perhaps how concern for others evolved? Did it start with self-protective helping? Did this gradually evolve into helping geared toward the other’s well-being? Libraries’ worth of books try to draw a sharp line between selfishness and altruism, but what if we’re facing an immense gray area? We can’t exactly call empathy “selfish,” because a perfectly selfish attitude would simply ignore someone else’s emotions. Yet it doesn’t seem appropriate either to call empathy “unselfish” if it is one’s own emotional state that prompts action.The selfish/unselfish divide may be a red herring. Why try to extract the self from the other, or the other from the self, if the merging of the two is the secret behind our cooperative nature? = And there are some segments which are inherently political - how much inequality can we take? We humans are complex characters who easily form social hierarchies, yet in fact have an aversion to them, and who readily sympathize with others, unless we feel envious, threatened, or concerned about our own welfare.We walk on two legs: a social and a selfish one. We tolerate differences in status and income only up to a degree, and begin to root for the underdog as soon as this boundary is overstepped. We have a deeply ingrained sense of fairness, which derives from our long history as egalitarians. But this fairness also reminds me of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion - there's talk about the importance of reciprocity as well; and freeloaders are generally looked poorly upon. In this book, Waal approaches the topic by considering primates, who he observes to have a need for reciprocity (fair play) as well as an inequity aversion.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nick Klagge

    I loved this book, and it was an interesting contrast to read it immediately after another popular-consumption book by a biologist (which I didn't like), "Why We Run" by Bernd Heinrich. Frans de Waal comes across as warm, engaging, the kind of guy who would be welcome at your dinner party. I laughed aloud at his somewhat odd Dutch humor a couple of times. His little hand-drawn sketches are also a charming touch. The subject matter, of course, is what interested me in the first place, and I wasn't I loved this book, and it was an interesting contrast to read it immediately after another popular-consumption book by a biologist (which I didn't like), "Why We Run" by Bernd Heinrich. Frans de Waal comes across as warm, engaging, the kind of guy who would be welcome at your dinner party. I laughed aloud at his somewhat odd Dutch humor a couple of times. His little hand-drawn sketches are also a charming touch. The subject matter, of course, is what interested me in the first place, and I wasn't disappointed there either. De Waal's main area of interest is in understanding the evolution of empathy, and particularly, in what forms we can see it or its precursors in other animals--mostly chimpanzees, but many others as well, including elephants, dolphins, and even magpies. The book is largely dedicated to exploring "simple" forms of empathy. We most easily think of empathy as the advanced cognitive practice of "putting yourself in another's shoes," but de Waal tries to show that this is rooted in a variety of simpler precursors--starting with "emotional contagion," rising to "consolation," and finally to "targeted helping". He describes these as a "Russian doll," and also makes some interesting observations on what happens when the doll is "hollow"--when someone has the ability to put themselves in another's place cognitively, but lacks the basic emotional identification, dark things such as torture may arise. Another concept that de Waal focuses on is "motivational autonomy," by which he means, the fact that just because a behavior evolved for reason X, doesn't mean that when an individual exhibits that behavior, it is for reason X, and even further, it doesn't mean that reason X is the only legitimate reason for practicing the behavior. He uses this concept, which disentangles two quite distinct biological levels of analysis, to defend the existence of true empathy against the (common!) view that all empathic or altruistic behavior is "really" selfish. Thus, while empathy may have developed because on average and in the long run it tends to lead to more survival and reproductive success, it is a category error to assume that these save purposes necessarily motivate individual instances of empathy. Finally, although the book is subtitled "Lessons for a Kinder Society," de Waal is mercifully brief in his closing section on "what this means for modern society". He doesn't draw big sweeping conclusions (thankfully, he did not write a book called "How Chimpanzees Explain The World" or something like that), and is basically content to present some fascinating research and to suggest that we reconsider individualistic theories of society in its light. That, I think, is just right.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I first read Our Inner Ape, then went out and bought The Ape and The Sushi Master plus this book, because I loved the author and the subject matter so much. So this review is going to be a general review of all the Frans de Waal books listed above, also it's been a while since I read them and my copies are loaned or given away. Fascinating. Informative. I learned a great deal about Bonobos, humanoid psychology & evolution, and what behaviors are learned versus inborn. The best part is these books ar I first read Our Inner Ape, then went out and bought The Ape and The Sushi Master plus this book, because I loved the author and the subject matter so much. So this review is going to be a general review of all the Frans de Waal books listed above, also it's been a while since I read them and my copies are loaned or given away. Fascinating. Informative. I learned a great deal about Bonobos, humanoid psychology & evolution, and what behaviors are learned versus inborn. The best part is these books are written so well that you can really recommend them to almost anyone; they are that enjoyable and easy to read. I plan to get all Frans de Waal's writings on my Kindle and read them soon. (I did not have a kindle back when I read these 3 books)

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