Our Inner Ape Book Summary - Our Inner Ape Book explained in key points

Our Inner Ape summary

Frans de Waal

A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are

4.6 (43 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

'Our Inner Ape' by Frans de Waal explores the evolutionary origins of human behavior and the similarities we share with our primate relatives. It reveals how our emotions, behaviors, and societal structures have been shaped by our primate ancestry.

Table of Contents

    Our Inner Ape
    Summary of 16 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 16

    Chapter Outline

    1. Moral apes

    2. Hippies

    3. Solidarity 

    4. Reconciliation

    5. Powerful chimpanzee males

    6. Ancestors

    7. Sperm competition

    8. Prevention of infanticide

    9. Fairness among apes

    10. Empathy

    11. Cruelty

    12. “Old” morality

    13. The two inner apes

    14. Using our inner apes


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    What is Our Inner Ape about?

    Human beings are just as closely related to the gentle bonobos as they are to the aggressive chimpanzees. Frans de Waal compares the lifestyle of these two species of apes, in whose groups opposing characteristics such as sympathy and violence, fairness and greed, and dominance and community spirit clash with one another. Their sexual behavior tells us that we need to rethink the origins of our morality.

    Our Inner Ape Review

    Our Inner Ape (2005) explores the fascinating similarities between humans and our closest primate relatives, shedding light on our complex behavior and instincts. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers insightful observations and research findings, helping us understand our own behavior through the lens of our primate ancestors.
    • Frans de Waal's expertise in primatology brings credibility and depth to the book's exploration of our inner ape, making it an authoritative and trustworthy resource.
    • The book's humorous anecdotes and captivating stories make it an enjoyable read, ensuring that it is far from boring.

    Who should read Our Inner Ape?

    • Anyone interested in behaviorism
    • Anyone interested in how morality is established
    • Anyone who wants to know who our ancestors were and what that means for us


    About the Author

    Frans de Waal (b. 1948) is a Dutch zoologist and ethologist with a focus on chimpanzees and bonobos. He is the director of the Living Links Center, an institute dedicated to researching the evolution of apes and humans. Time magazine ranked de Waal as number 79 among the most influential people in the world. In 2012, he received the Ig Nobel Prize for a study that showed that chimpanzees could identify other chimpanzees based on photographs of their behinds.

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    Our Inner Ape FAQs 

    What is the main message of Our Inner Ape?

    Our Inner Ape explores the similarities between humans and apes, shedding light on our shared behaviors and emotions.

    How long does it take to read Our Inner Ape?

    The reading time for Our Inner Ape varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Our Inner Ape a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Our Inner Ape is worth reading as it offers fascinating insights into our evolutionary origins and helps us understand ourselves better.

    Who is the author of Our Inner Ape?

    Frans de Waal is the author of Our Inner Ape.

    What to read after Our Inner Ape?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Our Inner Ape, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • She/He/They/Me by Robyn Ryle
    • Why is Sex Fun? by Jared Diamond
    • Mastery by George Leonard
    • See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar
    • Marriage Be Hard by Kevin and Melissa Fredericks
    • Phaedo by Plato
    • When You're Ready, This Is How You Heal by Brianna Wiest