They are quick to exploit campsites and farms and are widely regarded as aggressive, destructive, crop-raiding hooligans. The modern human mind must acquire information, organize it, and generate behavior in ways that have been shaped by our evolutionary past. Like most primates, baboons are social creatures, living in large groups of 100, where individual rank—and the ability to claim food or a mate—is based on a complex web of birth and consort relationships. But the earlier chapters especially were practically as charming. For all of their failings, the behaviorists did understand that, whereas behavior can be unambiguously observed and measured, knowledge and the content of mental states are abstract, hard to measure, and difficult even to define. Baboon mothers who build good relationships with other adults greatly increase the chance of their offspring's survival.
Cheney and Seyfarth show that monkeys are much more complex than we used to think, in their use of vocalizations and in their treatment of social companions. It is exactly what such a book should be—full of imaginative experiments, meticulous scholarship, limpid literary style, and above all, truly important questions. Reading a baboon's mind affords an excellent grasp of the dynamics of baboon society. And the best way to avoid being taken by lions, leopards, crocodiles, or pythons is to live in a group, with all of the opportunities and compromises that group life entails. It will get you thinking-and maybe spur you to travel to Africa to see it all for yourself. While describing important research about baboon cognition and social relations, this book charms as much as it informs. Seyfarth's fascinating response to Darwin's challenge.
His shriek reflected his outrage at this egregious betrayal of expectation. Females: Kinship, Rank, Competition, and Cooperation 6. The baboon knew all of the relationships between the goats so well that at night she would carry a bleating kid from one barn directly to its mother in another barn. The result is enough interpersonal drama to rival Jane Austen, as the baboons make and break alliances and try to anticipate the actions of their friends and rivals, all while avoiding frequent attacks by predators. For example, the authors compare the treatment of a baboon who raises the ire of a high-ranking baboon to a human character who suffers a similar fate in an Edith Wharton novel after angering someone in high society.
Robert Seyfarth studies the social behavior, vocal communication, and cognition of nonhuman primates in their natural habitat. New Scientist, November 16, 1991, Robin Dunbar, review of How Monkeys See the World, p. Baboons live in groups of up to 150, including a handful of males and eight or nine matrilineal families of females. Skinner, who together developed the doctrine of behaviorism. The book is a sagacious milestone that deserves the close attention not only of biologists and primatologists, but also of psychologists and social scientists. Such numbers force baboons to form a complicated mix of short-term bonds for mating and longer-term friendships based on careful calculations of status and individual need. The result of all this social intrigue is a kind of Jane Austen melodrama, in which each individual must predict the behavior of others and form those relationships that return the greatest benefit.
It is, instead, biased in the way it responds to features of the world—actively organizing experiences and generating behavior on the basis of preexisting schemes. In this engaging, thoughtful work, the authors range widely and plumb topics deeply. King, review of How Monkeys See the World: Inside the Mind of Another Species, p. It is almost impossible to persuade a swamp sparrow to sing any notes other than its own. As they explore which baboon activities are instinctive and which activities result from a sequential thought process, Cheney and Seyfarth outline the baboons' complex social hierarchy within their society, which is largely dependent on birth, sexual relationships, and friendships especially between females and males who provide them with protection. In this way, the animal quickly develops an array of behaviors that are well suited to its needs. Cheney and Seyfarth have set out to observe--and by a set of ingenious experiments, test--the mental processes of baboons as exhibited by their grasp of social complexity.
And how do you really assess what an animal knows? Rushes away with lettuce in mouth, paying no attention to other cup or to setting. Written with a scientist's precision and a nature-lover's eye, Baboon Metaphysics gives us an unprecedented and compelling glimpse into the mind of another species. Seyfarth's fascinating response to Darwin's challenge. Seyfarth, a professor of psychology who has retired but remains an active researcher, is a specialist in animal behavior and communication. First, natural selection often creates brains that are highly specialized. Cheney—pioneers in the study of primate psychology—take up the challenge.
It's nice to have so many collected in one book and I can't help feeling up to speed on the subject now. In this way, the animal quickly develops an array of behaviors that are well suited to its needs. All this makes Baboon Metaphysics a captivating read. However, the monkeys have surprising gaps in their understanding of their environment, even of the behavior of their own predators. One of the most difficult aspects of finding food arises from the fact that as many as 100 other individuals in your group also want the food for themselves.
Library Journal, March 1, 1992, review of How Monkeys See the World, p. The former faculty judges of phenomena, or the appearance of things, and forms generalizations from these: to the latter it belongs, by direct intuition, to perceive things, and recognize truths, not cognizable by our senses. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, August, 1991, Sonia Ragir, review of How Monkeys See the World, p. His knowledge has no content. Finally, baboons are not particularly good-looking—many other monkeys are far more photogenic. Empiricism and rationalism were hotly debated at the time.