Culture Prefigures Cognition in Pan/Homo Bonobos

Citation data:

THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, ISSN: 2171-679X, Vol: 20, Issue: 3, Page: 311-328

Publication Year:
2005
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Repository URL:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10473
DOI:
10.1387/theoria.565
Author(s):
Savage-Rumbaugh, Sue, Fields, William M. , Segerdahl, Par, Rumbaugh, Duane
Publisher(s):
Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del País Vasco
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article description
This article questions traditional experimental approaches to the study of primate cognition. Because of a widespread assumption that cognition in non-human primates is genetically encoded and “natural,” these approaches neglect how profoundly apes’ cultural rearing experiences affect test results. We describe how three advanced cognitive abilities – imitation, theory of mind and language – emerged in bonobos maturing in a bi-species Pan/Homo culture, and how individual rearing differences led to individual forms of these abilities. These descriptions are taken from a rich ethnographic material, and we argue for the scientific superiority of participant-based ethnographic studies of primate cognition in shared Pan/Homo cultures.

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