Prof. Dr. Frans de Waal, Psychology Department, Emory University, Atlanta

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Mittwoch, 28.09.2016, 18:15 Uhr


Veranstaltende: Collegium generale
Redner, Rednerin: Prof. Dr. Frans de Waal, Psychology Department, Emory University, Atlanta
Datum: 28.09.2016
Uhrzeit: 18:15 - 19:45 Uhr
Ort: Auditorium maximum, Raum 110
Hauptgebäude
Hochschulstrasse 4
3012 Bern
Merkmale: Öffentlich
kostenlos

Zusammenfassung des Referats / Abstract

Despite the mechanistic view of animals that prevailed during last century, an undercurrent of scientists nourished a more cognitive approach. Initially, their research was ridiculed and suppressed, while a firm taboo was placed on anthropomorphism. They were told to favor simple explanations of behavior. From a Darwinian perspective, however, the simplest assumption about related species (such as humans and apes) isthat behavioral similarity is based on psychological and mental similarity. Cognitive continuity ought to be the default assumption. Neuroscience increasingly supports homologies, and human uniqueness claims have fallen one by one. Other primates are now being depicted as political, cultural, even moral beings. The wall between human and animal cognition has begun to resemble a Swiss cheese. This cognitive revolution is not limited to the primates, however. It is rippling across the entire animal kingdom, from tool-using crows to cooperating fish. Many unexpected new capacities have come to light, such as that animals monitor their own knowledge (metacognition) or reflect on past and future (time travel). Many cognitive capacities are the product of convergent evolution, which means they do not fit a one-dimensional scale from “lower” to “higher” forms. Instead of universal learning mechanisms that apply to all animals equally, we see highly variable cognitions connected to the ecological context of each species. I will provide an overview of the methods and findings of this new science, called evolutionary cognition, with an accent on primates and elephants and my own specialization in cooperation and empathy. The central message is one of cognition on demand.
 
Website Prof. Dr. Frans de Waal, Psychology Department, Emory University, Atlanta