Do animals think? Can they count? Do they have emotions? Do they feel anger, frustration, hurt or sorrow? Are they bound by any moral code? "Wild Minds" provides authoritative answers to these long-standing questions. Marc Hauser, a scientist in the field of animal cognition, uses insights from evolutionary theory and cognitive science to examine ...
Do animals think? Can they count? Do they have emotions? Do they feel anger, frustration, hurt or sorrow? Are they bound by any moral code? "Wild Minds" provides authoritative answers to these long-standing questions. Marc Hauser, a scientist in the field of animal cognition, uses insights from evolutionary theory and cognitive science to examine animal thought. Treating animals as neither machines devoid of feeling nor as extensions of humans, but as independant beings driven by their own complex impulses, Hauser's work describes his background research in the field: "a master tour of the animal mind".
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Publishers Weekly, 2000-02-14 Deeply skeptical of popular tales of altruistic dolphins, psychic dogs and cats, empathetic elephants and moralistic apes, Harvard animal scientist Hauser believes that such stories are fraught with assumptions and misleading comparisons between animal and human minds. Aiming to strike a balance between those scientists who view animals as mindless, instinct-driven automata and laypersons who assume animals are just like us, Hauser, a professor of psychology, draws heavily on animal cognition studies, neuroscience and evolutionary theory to delve into animals' "wild minds," shaped by environmental pressures and specific social contexts. This "admittedly reductionistic approach" sheds new light on social learning in octopuses, baboons, birds, guppies and rats; on the imitative behavior of songbirds, dolphins and chimpanzees; on rhesus monkeys' reconciliation habits; and on communication in echolocating bats and dancing honeybees. Although Hauser believes that emotions play a central role in animals' decision making, his views are sometimes hard to distinguish from those of behaviorists: he insists that animals lack moral senses, a deep understanding of death or the capacity for empathy, sympathy, shame, guilt and loyalty, because they lack self-awareness--a conclusion with which many pet owners will sharply disagree. Though Hauser disdains anthropomorphizing and takes pains to avoid it, we learn that "the animal kingdom is filled with honest Joes and poker-faced cheaters," the latter including "extremely cagey" chickens and great apes with "unscrupulous, Machiavellian intelligence." An intriguing compendium of little-known animal research, this unconvincing inquiry raises more questions than it answers. Hauser's belief that animals are "Kafka-creatures, organisms with rich thoughts and emotions, but no system for translating what they think into something that they can express to others" ultimately serves to narrow his field of vision. B&w drawings. Agent, John Brockman. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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