Next of Kin. What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are
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Roger Fouts
Intelligence, Animals, Animal rights

Report on the book of Roger Fouts, by Manuel de la Herrán Gascón

Chimpanzees are able to understand oral language and communicate among them and with human beings through the language of signs (for deaf people). Besides, as Roger Fouts describes it, they think and act in such a similar way as human beings do, that it is easy to recognize in them close relations, why not think of them as our cousins.

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Roger Fouts has spent thirty years of his life doing research on the origins of human intelligence and human language. He has proved through his works and shown through audiovisual material that chimpanzees are able to use language. The author taught this communication system to Whasoe, a chimpanzee female that taught it to her adopted son and made it general in the whole chimpanzee community.

[...] We like to think that science is the noble search for objective knowledge, and that it is always serving truth, but actually, scientists represent the prejudices of the time they are living. Intellectual fanaticism is very dangerous because it is possible to transmit false facts as knowledge, and these false ideas are liable to become the base for building a moral border line. Unfortunately, History has taught us that the union of arrogance and culture can lead the exiled from the moral universe of a culture, to a nightmare. [...]

[...] Since Aristote, Science has served morality. The Greek philosopher established that men were the most perfect beings created, followed, in this order, by elephants, dolphins and women. It took two thousand years to take a man the right to hit his wife away. [...] But the moral border line in Occident did not exclude just women but also African, Asiatic and Indian people [...] The height of shame was reached in 1904, during the universal exhibition in Saint Louis, where a group of pygmy and other races of "lower culture and intelligence" were exhibited in cages shared with chimpanzees and monkeys. [...]

[...] Our ethics are based in the difference between those who have the right to enter in our moral universe and those who have not [...] What would happen if we include in it any intelligent being, conscious of his own identity, able to maintain familiar relationships and have feelings? We would be immediately obliged to recognize the great primates -chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans- as beings worthy of belonging to our community, since they all have these characteristics [...]

Next of Kin Primos hermanos


Report on the book, by Manuel de la Herrán Gascón




Science, Technology and Thinking

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