8 dec: In search of humanism: Frans de Waal

In search of humanism among primates

World famous biologist Frans de Waal reveals that morality is not dictated to us by religion or social structures, but is the product of our biological nature. His research shows that empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans. Many monkeys and apes come to another’s aid in a fight, putting an arm around the victim of an attack. Understanding empathy’s survival value in evolution can help to build a more just society based on a more accurate view of human nature.

Prof. Frans B. M. de Waal is a Dutch/American behavioral biologist known for his work on the social intelligence of primates. His first book Chimpanzee Politics compared chimpanzees involved in power struggles with human politicians. Since then, De Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behaviour, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His latest book is The Bonobo and the Atheist. In 2007 De Waal was selected by Time as one of The World’s 100 Most Influential People Today.

Monday 8th December, 19.30-21.00 hrs. Vrijhof/Agora.