The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates

Author(s): Frans De Waal


In this engaging book, leading primatologist and thinker Frans de Waal offers an illuminating new perspective on human nature. Bringing together his pioneering research on primate behaviour, the latest findings in evolutionary biology and insights from moral philosophy, de Waal explains that we don't need the spectres of God or the law in order to act morally. Instead, our moral nature stems from our biology - specifically, our primate social emotions, which include empathy, reciprocity and fairness. We can glimpse this in the behaviour of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom: chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbours and bonobos will voluntarily open a door to offer a companion access to their own food. Building on a wealth of evidence, de Waal reveals that morality is not dictated to us by religion or social strictures but is the product of our biological nature.


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"...Frans de Waal's compelling book..." The Independent "...Frans de Waal's insightful and accessible book..." Times Higher Education "In Frans De Waal's new book, The Bonobo and the Atheist, he takes on the thinkers who believe that morality has to be imposed on our brutish natures and catalogues the growing evidence that disproves them." The Guardian "The chimp and bonobo stories in de Waal's writings are, as always, entertaining and charming." Prospect

Frans de Waal has been named among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People. The author of Our Inner Ape among many other works, he is the C.H. Candler Professor in Emory University's Psychology Department.

General Fields

  • : 9780393347791
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : April 2014
  • : 211mm X 140mm X 52mm
  • : United States
  • : April 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 171.7
  • : 320
  • : 12 illustrations
  • : Frans De Waal
  • : Paperback