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. Frans de Waal, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, believes that it’s just as natural to. The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society is the last in a long line of books and papers Frans de Waal (, ,

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The difference between that work and “The Age ve Empathy” is that there is some actual science behind de Waal’s work. When asked about Iraqi civilian casualties, Donald Rumsfeld once said, well we do not do body counts on ‘other people’. The author outlines examples from the animal world that show these characteristics to be anything but unique.

The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society by Frans de Waal

Few topics are as timely to the understanding of the human mind and behavior. 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. Published September 22nd by Crown first published January 1st The third part of empathy is what de Waal calls “targeted helping. As social animals living in groups, they also display similar farns of concern, as well as emotional empathj physical support for those experiencing difficulty, social discrimination, or injury.

The notion of “pure reason” is pure fiction. Come to think of it, this also reflects a distrust of government, not so much big government but rather the short-sightedness of most politicians. But Skilling had the science wrong, as does almost everyone off.

Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Waal knocks down those who use the idea of “survival of the fittest” to excuse their behavior.

The Age of Empathy

Biologically, humans are not selfish animals. Is the evolutionary spirit really all about greed, as Gekko claimed, or is there more to it? Evolution added layer after layer, until our ancestors felt what others felt and also understood what others might want or need.

De Waal, a renowned primatologist, knows the territory firsthand. And this is what de Waal and scholars like frsns have begun to track. Thus, while empathy may have developed because on average and in the long run it tends to ee to more survival and reproductive success, it is a category error to assume that these save purposes necessarily motivate individual instances of empathy.


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. Includes sketches that complement the excellent narrative. The only difference is that instead of trying to justify a particular ideological framework, the biologist has an actual interest in the question of what human nature is and where it came from. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Like other primatologists, he has also observed that many deeply felt human attitudes and ideas have suggestive precursors in chimpanzee behavior.

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.

The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society

I found his unapologetic attitude about the political implications of his work to be personally refreshing and scientifically defensible. We would not be where we are today had our ancestors been socially aloof. About Frans de Waal. Hard to live up to some of his other books.

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. 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.

He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Students of law, economics, and politics lack the tools to look at their own society with any objectivity. May 11, Book rated it really liked it Shelves: Evidently inspired by Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Genehe justified his actions with the belief that all people were ultimately motivated only by greed and fear.

Since any income should beat none at all, this means that both monkeys and people fail to follow the profit principle to the letter. Notes and bibliography included.

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. In this superb book, he shows how we are not the only species with elements of those cognitive capacities, empathy is as much about affect as cognition, and our empathic humanity has roots far deeper than our human-ness.


Without animals holding up a mirror to them, the notion we are alone came naturally to them. It made me much more cheerful in my quest towards understanding how our species can live at peace with the rest of the world. And these people were the lucky ones.

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 frsns polarized world. It was and my friend and colleague, Barbara McEwen, was explaining her research into the roles of vasopressin and oxytocin in memory processing.

Oct 24, Kelly rated it really liked it. De Waal’s theory runs counter to the assumption that humans are tye selfish, which can be seen in the fields of politics, law, and finance, and whichseems to be evidenced by the current greed-driven stock market collapse.

In decades of observations at the Yerkes colony, de Waal has noted that if the chimpanzees are given shareable food, like watermelons, they will race to get their hands on it. I like the point that we don’t decide to be empathic – we simply are. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Frans de Waal really opens our eyes to the true meaning of evolution and he does so in a noncondescending yet completely brilliant manner.

Americans are a generous people, yet raised with the mistaken belief that the “invisible hand” of the free market-a metaphor introduced by the same Adam Smith-will take care of society’s woes. The cat sniffed and observed each patient, strolling from room to room.