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

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    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.

    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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