Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Is Civilization just a Mask for Egoistic Monsters?

Answers from a primate researcher

ZiF:Lecture by Frans de Waal
Date: December 9, 2003; 7.00 p.m.

Frans B.M. de Waal (born 1948, the Netherlands) was trained as a zoologist and ethologist in the European tradition at three Dutch universities (Nijmegen, Groningen, Utrecht), resulting in a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Utrecht, in 1977. His dissertation research concerned aggressive behavior and alliance formation in macaques. In 1975, a six- year project was initiated on the world's largest captive colony of chimpanzees at the Arnhem Zoo. Apart from a large number of scientific papers, this work found its way to the general public with Chimpanzee Politics (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982).
In 1981, Dr. de Waal accepted a research position at the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. There he began both observational and experimental studies of reconciliation behavior in monkeys. He received the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Peacemaking among Primates (Harvard University Press, 1989), a popularized account of fifteen years of research on conflict resolution in nonhuman primates. Since the mid-1980s, Dr. de Waal also worked on chimpanzees at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center and their close relatives, bonobos, at the San Diego Zoo.
In 1991, Dr. de Waal accepted a joint position in the Psychology Department of Emory University and at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, both in Atlanta. His current interests include food-sharing, social reciprocity, and conflict-resolution in primates as well as the origins of morality and justice in human society. Within this frame of work, he also critically reflects the widespread equalization of Darwinism and selfishness.

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