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Primates and Philosophers

by Frans de Waal
an interview with the author
July 2007

This interview may be posted on other web sites provided the interview is linked back to without the nofollow attribute.

Transcript from live chat with Frans de Waal - 7/30/2009

Welcome! You have entered [BookTalk Chatroom] at 8:58 pm
[Chris OConnor] 8:59 pm: I really appreciate you guys for being here
[BookTalk Chatroom]: Saffron has entered at 8:59 pm
[Chris OConnor] 8:59 pm: Hey Jackie
[Robert Tulip] 8:59 pm: Don't worry Chris, it is a hard book. The veneer theory is a key point. It is the idea that morality primarily constrains our natural immoral instincts. This has a strong basis in law and religion, but de Waal argues we are naturally good at our true inner core.
[Saffron] 9:00 pm: Hi
[Chris OConnor] 9:00 pm: Welcome
[Chris OConnor] 9:00 pm: Well, it is amazing that we have so many active members and so few are interested in live author chats.
[Saffron] 9:00 pm: Ya, I think so too
[BookTalk Chatroom]: Frans de Waal has entered at 9:00 pm
[Chris OConnor] 9:00 pm: Welcome Frans de Waal ;)
[Frans de Waal] 9:01 pm: Hello, here I am.
[Chris OConnor] 9:01 pm: I will share with everyone that Frans admitted to not being the world's fastest typist
[Chris OConnor] 9:01 pm: So we'll be gentle on him :)
[Robert Tulip] 9:01 pm: Welcome Frans. Primates and Philosophers is a great book. I really enjoyed reading it, as well as Our Inner Ape. Thanks for joining the chat.
[Chris OConnor] 9:02 pm: Frans, people will probably stagger in as time goes by. It is quite common.
[Frans de Waal] 9:02 pm: Stagger sounds like a bar, but going out, not coming in.
[Chris OConnor] 9:02 pm: Well, some of us might stagger LOL
[Robert Tulip] 9:05 pm: Primates and Philosophers. It is a deep book, opening hard questions about the source of morality. I really like the method of starting from an empirical framework and then trying to see how this fits against human intellectual traditions. Frans, do you see this method as central to evolutionary morality?
[Robert Tulip] 9:06 pm: sorry, typo - the method
[Robert Tulip] 9:08 pm: Evolutionary morality is a great topic. Do you see it as covering both how our morals have emerged from our genetic inheritance, and how the process of evolution is now taking place, slowly at the genetic level and more rapidly in cultural evolution?
[Frans de Waal] 9:08 pm: The issue of data vs. theory is interesting, because I believe too often people start from a theory which constrains their view. Reality is always more complex than you think.
[Frans de Waal] 9:09 pm: The topic of evolution of morality is on the rise. The AAAS had a symposium about it this year.
[Chris OConnor] 9:09 pm: Will you be attending?
[Robert Tulip] 9:09 pm: Is the claim that animals don't feel empathy an example of theory-laden view?
[Frans de Waal] 9:10 pm: The symposium was in February, got lots of attention.
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[BookTalk Chatroom]: Saffron has entered at 9:10 pm
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[BookTalk Chatroom]: Saffron has entered at 9:10 pm
[Frans de Waal] 9:10 pm: Saffron got stuck in revolving door?
[Chris OConnor] 9:11 pm: LOL Looks like it.
[Saffron] 9:11 pm: yup
[Chris OConnor] 9:11 pm: I told you we would see some staggering.
[Saffron] 9:11 pm: my oops
[Robert Tulip] 9:11 pm: Those doorbell sounds can be turned off by clicking Options then Sounds, and unticking the boxes
[Chris OConnor] 9:11 pm: Thanks, Indie.
[DWill] 9:11 pm: Sorry I'm late--work, you know.
[Chris OConnor] 9:11 pm: Good to have you join us, DWill.
[Robert Tulip] 9:11 pm: Frans, talking about how reality is complex, your discussion of veneer theory is an interesting way to compare the evidence you find among the primates with conventional morality of law and religion.
[Chris OConnor] 9:12 pm: Frans, someone emailed me this question...I will wait till you have responded to Robert.
[Frans de Waal] 9:12 pm: I invented this term, to the dislike of veneer theorists, because too many were arguing that all that we have is "deep down" a nasty side, and that morality is a mere overlay.
[Chris OConnor] 9:12 pm: "I’ve heard that humans share about 96% of our DNA with Chimpanzees. But this statistic doesn’t have much impact on me unless I know how much we share with other species of animals, such as dogs, cats, horses and such. How close are we to other mammals? How about reptiles? Are we talking just a few percentage points difference between us and say... turtles?"
[Saffron] 9:13 pm: red is bad
[Frans de Waal] 9:13 pm: We share 50% with a banana. Does that make you feel better or worse?
[Chris OConnor] 9:13 pm: LOL sorry
[Chris OConnor] 9:14 pm: Well, if 50% is accurate it makes me feel better. It validates the concept that humans and the other apes share a common ancestor.
[Chris OConnor] 9:14 pm: I will try yellow. Just trying to make our text different.
[Robert Tulip] 9:14 pm: Your critics in P&P suggest no one believes in veneer theory, but my impression is that it is at the core of mainstream law and religion, for example with Saint Augustine's theory of original sin. The idea is that morality is a veneer keeping us from acting out our instinctive desires.
[Frans de Waal] 9:14 pm: We share 98.5% with bonobos and chimps. I believe it's 93% with macaques.
[Saffron] 9:15 pm: Yellow is easier to read, thanks
[BookTalk Chatroom]: geo has entered at 9:15 pm
[Frans de Waal] 9:15 pm: Yes, most veneer theorists hate the label, because of course it sounds literally superficial.
[Chris OConnor] 9:15 pm: true
[Chris OConnor] 9:15 pm: Welcome Geo ;)
[Frans de Waal] 9:16 pm: So, they say that they didn't mean it this way, or that in fact superficialities (such as culture compared to biology) still count!
[BookTalk Chatroom]: Treat has entered at 9:16 pm
[DWill] 9:16 pm: So, against veneer theorists, you would you say that "Morality receives a helping hand from nature" is a good summary of your argument--or would you go much further?
[geo] 9:16 pm: Hi, sorry I'm late.
[Chris OConnor] 9:16 pm: Geo, feel free to jump in and ask Frans a question
[Frans de Waal] 9:17 pm: Oh, I'd go much further. Nature gave us the psychology that morality uses to build its system. Without it, morality would be nowhere.
[Robert Tulip] 9:17 pm: But discussion of veneer theory is a good way to critique the assumptions of conventional morality. If our inner core is naturally good, that throws into question a lot of the conventional dichotomy between humans and animals. For example your observation of animals feeling empathy cuts against the conventional views.
[Frans de Waal] 9:18 pm: Yes. There are two fights. One with the Kantians, who believe morality is based on the ratio. Another with biologists, who can't see that we evolved as a highly social species, not just a selfish one.
[DWill] 9:19 pm: I don't see how our inner core can be said to be either naturally good or bad. Isn't it a mixture?
[Chris OConnor] 9:19 pm: I'd say so DWill
[Saffron] 9:19 pm: how about neither good or bad
[DWill] 9:20 pm: yes, that's better
[Chris OConnor] 9:20 pm: I'd think that all animals tend to cooperate when cooperation is beneficial to survival.
[Frans de Waal] 9:20 pm: You're right. I would never say it's purely good. Lots of competitive tendencies. The problem is that if you try to go against the nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw view, you're immediately accused of having rose colored glasses.
[Saffron] 9:20 pm: isn't assigning a label a value judgment, anyway
[Robert Tulip] 9:20 pm: Nice people finish first
[Chris OConnor] 9:21 pm: true, Frans
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[DWill] 9:21 pm: Although, if goodness is a real thing, then we'd have to say it's in our animal core (good news)
[BookTalk Chatroom]: DWill has entered at 9:21 pm
[Frans de Waal] 9:22 pm: There are interesting predecessors to my view, such as Westermarck, whom I mention in my book. He realized that morality is unexplained by culture or religion alone.
[Robert Tulip] 9:22 pm: I'm sympathetic to the Kantian line of the transcendental imagination as the source of rational duty. However, it produces a rather individualist philosophy which seems not to mesh with the observation of how primates are social animals.
[Frans de Waal] 9:23 pm: The idea of reasoned morality is unsupported by neuroscience and psychology. For example, moral dilemmas activate ancient parts of the brain, much older and more emotional than our prefrontal cortex. Kant was simply wrong.
[BookTalk Chatroom]: Suzanne E. Smith has entered at 9:23 pm
[DWill] 9:23 pm: The whole role of reason in our actions is suspect with you, Dr. de Waal
[Frans de Waal] 9:24 pm: We often reason after the fact, to explain things.
[Chris OConnor] 9:24 pm: interesting
[DWill] 9:24 pm: And then there is the "trolley problem," in which the rational response is not the one most people would ever want to perform
[Saffron] 9:25 pm: It seems to me, first I better say I haven't read this book -- I read Our Inner Ape -- but have follow much of the discussion of this book on BT, that we have morality to help us cooperate and be better at being social -- which is our main adaptive advantage -- being the weak, vulnerable creatures we are.
[Frans de Waal] 9:25 pm: Oh, there are now more trolley problems formulated then there are trolleys!
[Robert Tulip] 9:25 pm: However, we can use our prefrontal cortex to analyze moral decisions and assess their consequences. This seems at the basis of use of precedent in law. Our emotions are genetic, but our reason seems to apply a higher faculty.
[Chris OConnor] 9:25 pm: Suzanne - you emailed me a comment about the Trolley problem. Would you like to post it now?
[Suzanne E. Smith] 9:26 pm: And law would tell us not to push another person to his death.
[DWill] 9:26 pm: There aren't many trolleys at all over here!
[Chris OConnor] 9:26 pm: Suzanne asked: "Do you believe it is moral behavior to kill a human being to "possibly" save other human beings?"
[Frans de Waal] 9:26 pm: The interaction between reasoning and emotions is an interesting one, and in fact many of our emotions are quite intelligent. Shame and guilt come to mind, and are important, but all emotions involve some level of cognition, except perhaps the primary ones, such as fear.
[Suzanne E. Smith] 9:27 pm: I wanted to know if Dr. de Waal believes it is moral to push one person to his death to save others.
[DWill] 9:27 pm: That's the thing--no duality between emotion and reason
[Chris OConnor] 9:28 pm: I think people want so badly to have everything black and white, right and wrong, moral or immoral. But life often presents tough choices where there isn't a perfect answer.
[Frans de Waal] 9:28 pm: Wait, this is going too fast. The question of Suzanne is not what they ask. They ask people what they would do faced with the trolley problem, not what is moral.
[Saffron] 9:28 pm: Yes
[Robert Tulip] 9:29 pm: The trolley problem illustrates that our natural emotional response can deliver a sub-optimal result. A better example is medical rationing, where we decide to provide resources in emotional ways, even though logical allocations would produce better overall health results, and to that extent would be more moral.
[Frans de Waal] 9:29 pm: Were they to ask "what is moral?" perhaps they'd get a different answer?
[Robert Tulip] 9:29 pm: I need simple answers, running out of storage.
[DWill] 9:30 pm: Is it a good time for a topic shift?
[Frans de Waal] 9:30 pm: The trolley problem gets at natural (evolved) inhibitions that guide our decisions and may conflict with nicely reasoned (Kantian) solutions.
[Chris OConnor] 9:30 pm: Interbane, nice to see you chime in. :p
[Suzanne E. Smith] 9:30 pm: But they did say that people who thought you should sacrifice one person to save 5 others were thinking in the moral part of their brains. Is that right?
[Robert Tulip] 9:30 pm: Society complicates morality. I didn't know it was insulting to burp after eating in the south.
[Frans de Waal] 9:31 pm: There is a big distinction between conventions (relating to burping) and moral rules. Two-year olds already know this.
[Chris OConnor] 9:31 pm: Right or wrong, if I had to kill one innocent person to save 5 innocent people I would probably kill the 1.
[Robert Tulip] 9:32 pm: You couldn't know for sure
[Suzanne E. Smith] 9:32 pm: I could not do it.
[DWill] 9:32 pm: Really, Chris? How could you be sure your actions would work out, for one thing?
[Robert Tulip] 9:33 pm: What is the method of demarcation you use to distinguish conventions from morals?
[Chris OConnor] 9:33 pm: DWill, if I believed that my actions would work as intentioned. This scenario happens in real life. Tough decisions have to be made during wars. Save the 1 wounded soldier or help the 12 you are leading get to safety.
[Saffron] 9:34 pm: that is not the same a directly choosing to kill one person
[geo] 9:34 pm: It goes against our programming to choose death for even if it is to save others. I don't think I could do it, especially on the spur of the moment. However, would any of us accept a mission to go back in time to kill Hitler, that feels different somehow.
[Frans de Waal] 9:34 pm: Studies have been done on children. They ask if they went to a different country where they wear pajamas to school would they do it. They say "sure." they ask if it's ok in that country to hurt someone else, they say "no." the conclusion is that these young children already see morality as more universal than conventions.
[Suzanne E. Smith] 9:34 pm: I agree with Saffron
[Suzanne E. Smith] 9:35 pm: I think some people are naturally good (Mother Theresa) and some naturally bad (Hitler), but the majority are in between.
[DWill] 9:35 pm: Right, universality determines whether it's morality
[Frans de Waal] 9:35 pm: Any questions about other primates than Mother Teresa?
[geo] 9:35 pm: I agree with Saffron. It would be very difficult to actively kill someone regardless how sure you are of the outcome.
[Saffron] 9:35 pm: a convention is just a simple rule of how to interact
[Chris OConnor] 9:36 pm: But what makes morality universal? What is the scientific explanation for why everyone feels hurting or killing is bad?
[Chris OConnor] 9:36 pm: LOL
[Robert Tulip] 9:36 pm: I'm interested in the difference between humans and apes. We have lost contact with a lot of our connection with instinctive behavior seen in apes. However, that seems an evolutionary advantage in some ways, as it is the universal ideas of morality that have enabled civilization.
[Frans de Waal] 9:37 pm: We can never leave our ape ancestry behind us. We can at the most transform it.
[Saffron] 9:37 pm: morality has to be connect to living in society -- morality would not need to exist if society did not exist
[geo] 9:37 pm: Mother Teresa does stoop a bit.
[Chris OConnor] 9:37 pm: I agree
[Frans de Waal] 9:37 pm: I see morality as serving cooperation and a modus vivendi.
[DWill] 9:37 pm: And have we really lost connection with our instinctive behavior that apes also have?
[Chris OConnor] 9:38 pm: * running to dictionary to look up modus vivendi *
[Robert Tulip] 9:38 pm: Where our ancestries coincide, with respect to moral behavior, isn't that merely the most likely evolutionary stable strategy for socially complex creatures?
[Saffron] 9:38 pm: agree to disagree
[Saffron] 9:38 pm: oops missed the last e
[Robert Tulip] 9:38 pm: Kant said a moral universal (the categorical imperative) is that we should act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."[
[Chris OConnor] 9:39 pm: Thanks Saffron
[Frans de Waal] 9:39 pm: We are highly cooperative. Moral rules allow us to maintain society despite internal conflicts as it sets rule. The rules apply to the in group. It has been a struggle to apply them to out groups.
[Robert Tulip] 9:39 pm: Modus vivendi is how we live together - compromise.
[DWill] 9:40 pm: So you do not value the articulation of philosophy as much as the practical aspects of morality, Frans
[Frans de Waal] 9:41 pm: I interact quite a bit with philosophers, but they are high up in the air. You can tell from the discussions in the book. There is a dialogue, but with some disconnect.
[Robert Tulip] 9:42 pm: So compromise in the group is the highest morality? Isn't that subject to corruption when a dominant view can be imposed against evidence that it will be harmful?
[Frans de Waal] 9:42 pm: This is also why I compared morality with a tower. We can look at the summit in appreciation, but won't fully understand the tower without looking at the lower levels.
[DWill] 9:43 pm: That's good, Robert
[Saffron] 9:43 pm: It seems to me that philosophers need to catch up to what we are learning in the field of neuroscience. I think we have much to learn about morality from what we are learning about how individuals make decisions
[Frans de Waal] 9:43 pm: I am not sure compromise is high morality. But moral systems are to find agreement among conflicted parties.
[Robert Tulip] 9:44 pm: I thought your critics in P&P didn't engage with your observation about veneer theory. It was like they were saying a simplistic version is not believed by philosophers so it is irrelevant, even though it is at the centre of law and religion.
[Frans de Waal] 9:44 pm: Their main objective seemed to agree, but then quickly move to what makes humans unique.
[DWill] 9:45 pm: How do you account for their difference in perspective--valuing so highly our cognition?
[Robert Tulip] 9:45 pm: And isn't our capacity for rational cooperation through language unique?
[Chris OConnor] 9:46 pm: good question
[Frans de Waal] 9:46 pm: Language is great but not needed for cooperation. Have you seen the hunt of killer whales: highly coordinated, splashing seals off icebergs by five orcas in perfect synchrony. All without language.
[DWill] 9:47 pm: The tower again explains this
[Chris OConnor] 9:47 pm: Frans, yes. And it truly is an impressive display of cooperation.
[Frans de Waal] 9:47 pm: Here's the video:
[Chris OConnor] 9:48 pm: Don't click or you might leave
[Robert Tulip] 9:48 pm: lol
[Saffron] 9:48 pm: thanks
[Chris OConnor] 9:48 pm: hold the shift key when clicking
[DWill] 9:48 pm: I'm afraid
[Robert Tulip] 9:48 pm: But the problem is about the sources of human morality. I agree with you that most of our emotional sentiment is genetic, but it seems language is a key difference, explaining why humans have come to dominate the world.
[Saffron] 9:48 pm: you have good reason to be
[geo] 9:49 pm: Dolphins also hunt in groups with a great deal of cooperation.
[DWill] 9:49 pm: True, Robert, but not germane to morality?
[Frans de Waal] 9:49 pm: Language is important, also for morality, but at the end of it not at the start. Most philosophers think top down, and start with language, but language helped us add to what we already had.
[Saffron] 9:49 pm: language allows us to be cooperative in very complex ways and therefore increasing the complexity of our cultures and what we are able to accomplish
[Chris OConnor] 9:50 pm: but language didn't come developed long after we were moral beings.
[Robert Tulip] 9:51 pm: Humans have established a global civilization with nearly seven billion people. The moral ideas encoded in law have been a central evolutionary asset for this process.
[Frans de Waal] 9:51 pm: What it boils down to is that you can't have morality without empathy and that empathy is possible w/o language. So, language adds but doesn't necessarily create.
[Chris OConnor] 9:52 pm: I see what you're saying Robert. Since language developed and evolved morality has been enhanced and amplified...if that makes sense
[Robert Tulip] 9:52 pm: So we have a genetic foundation upon which we built a cultural tower?
[Robert Tulip] 9:52 pm: Only after language first created the more complex problems law is needed to solve. You need neither for morality it seems.
[Frans de Waal] 9:52 pm: My guess is that humans had moral systems of social norms long before they had a highly developed language.
[Robert Tulip] 9:53 pm: We can choose to not act on our empathy.
[Saffron] 9:53 pm: Dr. de Wall, would you say as we became more and more social we became the more we needed morality?
[DWill] 9:53 pm: As far as religion an moral systems go, we have our innate good-naturedness to thank.
[Frans de Waal] 9:54 pm: Morality is mainly a tool to become more cooperative.
[Chris OConnor] 9:54 pm: right
[Robert Tulip] 9:55 pm: But are our ancestral social norms sufficient for morality? Yes we share with dogs a lot of social instinct, but humans are unique in ability to cooperate to assess instinctive results against precedent. That is what law is about.
[DWill] 9:55 pm: I find it interesting that punishment is so important to morality, yet almost no one (but you) talks about it in P & P
[Robert Tulip] 9:55 pm: Would it be immoral to genetically engineer people to feel empathy towards people who aren't in their 'in-group'?
[Robert Tulip] 9:55 pm: Interbane - that is called Christianity. Jesus said Love your enemies.
[Robert Tulip] 9:56 pm: Too bad we don't listen
[Frans de Waal] 9:56 pm: I am wary of genetic engineering. Don't mess with human nature.
[Chris OConnor] 9:56 pm: Yes, seems very dangerous.
[Robert Tulip] 9:56 pm: Immoral then? It seems that way to me, yet if the goal is to enhance morality...
[Frans de Waal] 9:57 pm: Enhancing empathy makes us not necessarily more moral. Because empathy is always filtered and selectively applied.
[Robert Tulip] 9:57 pm: I question your view that morality is mainly a tool to become more cooperative. Competition also has a strongly moral content, by revealing who is most competent.
[DWill] 9:57 pm: Could you explain that?
[Chris OConnor] 9:59 pm: But animals cannot coexist without finding common ground and learning to tolerate each other. Morality, to me, evolved as a tool for us living together.
[Frans de Waal] 9:59 pm: Are you asking me to explain? Unlimited empathy is no good: we would not be able to maintain our healthy psychology if we empathized with everybody equally. We need to filter, and empathy is heavily biased in real life towards those close to us.
[DWill] 9:59 pm: Would you rule out existence of empathy in non-mammals, by the way?
[Frans de Waal] 9:59 pm: I think birds have it: there's evidence for it.
[Chris OConnor] 10:00 pm: We empathize with OUR social group and not the one across the river.
[Robert Tulip] 10:00 pm: All things in balance. Morality of cooperation suggests, taken to extremes that we should reward all equally to maintain esteem. Morality of competition gives people incentive to win, and has been at the basis of economic growth.
[Frans de Waal] 10:00 pm: Yes, empathy is biased. It evolved likely to serve kin and the in group.
[Robert Tulip] 10:01 pm: Unlimited empathy isn't what I had in mind. Rather, a way for it to apply to those in our out-groups.
[DWill] 10:01 pm: An you (F d W) don't agree with Singer that we can really expand our circle all that much
[Chris OConnor] 10:01 pm: So why is it that I empathize so much with stray dogs and cats and animals in general? I'm curious how this empathy originated
[Robert Tulip] 10:01 pm: So to find a morality that includes the excluded, you have to look beyond our genetic inheritance?
[Chris OConnor] 10:02 pm: Stray dogs and cats are clearly not a part of my social group.
[Robert Tulip] 10:02 pm: ESS, they offer help
[Chris OConnor] 10:02 pm: What did you just call me?
[Frans de Waal] 10:02 pm: When you empathize with a stray dog, you're applying a mechanism that evolved for fellow humans to other species. Same, when a beluga whale saves a diver (as just happened in China). Belugas didn't evolve these reactions for this purpose, but the range can be expanded.
[Chris OConnor] 10:02 pm: LOL
[DWill] 10:02 pm: Maybe there's little cost in empathizing with dogs and cats
[Robert Tulip] 10:03 pm: moral symbiosis, feed a dog and it'll be your alarm.
[Frans de Waal] 10:03 pm: Yes, the cost issue is important. During war it's costly to empathize with the enemy. But dogs and cats are always ok.
[Chris OConnor] 10:03 pm: Frans, I heard something about the whale incident. I have also read and seen videos of dolphins saving humans from sharks.
[Chris OConnor] 10:04 pm: Interbane, what symbiotic relationship exists when a dolphin saves humans from sharks?
[Frans de Waal] 10:04 pm: Here another link not to click on: ... 47507.html
[Chris OConnor] 10:04 pm: hahah
[Robert Tulip] 10:04 pm: Empathy is necessary but not sufficient for morality. It produces decisions distorted by emotion, where a more dispassionate approach gives a better result.
[Chris OConnor] 10:04 pm: Frans, those links will be in the chat transcript. When we finish this chat we'll put some links to your upcoming book too.
[Frans de Waal] 10:05 pm: I believe the sea mammals recognize us as mammals and apply the same sensitivity to each other to us.
[Saffron] 10:05 pm: emotions do not distort -- they provide information
[DWill] 10:05 pm: good point
[Saffron] 10:05 pm: emotion allow us to make decisions
[Chris OConnor] 10:06 pm: I find it amazing that some humans appear to completely lack empathy for animals and even their fellow humans.
[Frans de Waal] 10:06 pm: Right about morality and empathy. The moral emotions (incl. empathy) are essential building blocks, but morality is more than just emotion, all in second part of the book, when I reply to the philosophers.
[geo] 10:06 pm: Maybe emotion is applied after te fact, like reason?
[Saffron] 10:06 pm: people who have a brain injury that prevent them from feeling emotions can't make choices
[Frans de Waal] 10:07 pm: Psychopaths have no empathy. So, the veneer theorist's description of humans as essentially nasty and selfish describe a society of psychopaths.
[Robert Tulip] 10:07 pm: I think you're mixing up what morality has evolved in us to become, and what the ideal morality would be, Robert.
[Suzanne E. Smith] 10:07 pm: I find it more amazing that people can have empathy for other people but not for animals.
[Robert Tulip] 10:07 pm: Or vice versa Suzanne
[Chris OConnor] 10:07 pm: Suzanne - Yes, you're so right.
[DWill] 10:08 pm: Still, it's scary when people have exaggerated empathy for animals
[Robert Tulip] 10:08 pm: Saffron, emotions do distort our decisions when considered in isolation from reasoned evidence. For example people prefer giving work to their friends, even though others may be able to do a better job.
[Suzanne E. Smith] 10:08 pm: I must be scary
[Chris OConnor] 10:08 pm: Frans, this has been an interesting discussion. Please feel free to chat with us as long as you like. But I do want to hear about your upcoming book before we end this.
[DWill] 10:09 pm: No offense, Suzanne
[Saffron] 10:09 pm: but that is not necessarily wrong or bad
[Chris OConnor] 10:09 pm: DWill, what would you consider exaggerated empathy for animals?
[Frans de Waal] 10:09 pm: My upcoming book is about empathy. Morality plays little role in this book, as it is about the evidence and the mechanism of empathy. It will come out in September.
[Chris OConnor] 10:10 pm: Frans, we'll be reading it here. What is the title of your new book?
[Saffron] 10:10 pm: should be a good read, I look forward to it
[Frans de Waal] 10:10 pm: The Age of Empathy.
[DWill] 10:10 pm: I mean the person who believes that animals are "better" than humans, more deserving, actually, of care and love
[Chris OConnor] 10:10 pm: I like that.
[Chris OConnor] 10:10 pm: A play on The Age of Reason
[Robert Tulip] 10:10 pm: That sounds fantastic Franz. Can I ask, have you looked at how phenomenology discusses these themes? For example Heidegger's view that moods are a primary form of human existence.
[Frans de Waal] 10:10 pm: It has two meanings: We live in a time when empathy has become important. But also I discuss the age of empathy.
[DWill] 10:10 pm: Good for the Obama years!
[Frans de Waal] 10:11 pm: Hmmm ... Heidegger. I am afraid not much on him in there.
[Robert Tulip] 10:11 pm: Lack of empathy is at the foundation of war and racism.
[BookTalk Chatroom]: has left at 10:11 pm
[BookTalk Chatroom]: geo has left at 10:11 pm
[BookTalk Chatroom]: Suzanne E. Smith has left at 10:11 pm
[BookTalk Chatroom]: has left at 10:11 pm
[DWill] 10:12 pm: Is your book based on primate research?
[Chris OConnor] 10:12 pm: Here is a link to NOT click on right now. ... 0307407764
[Frans de Waal] 10:12 pm: Yes, book is very much on animal studies, incl. also elephants.
Bye guys ... until next time perhaps.
[Chris OConnor] 10:12 pm: The Age of Empathy - "An engrossing, lucid exploration of the origins of human morality that challenges our most basic assumptions, from the world’s leading primatologist"
[BookTalk Chatroom]: Frans de Waal has left at 10:12 pm
[Saffron] 10:12 pm: good night
[DWill] 10:13 pm: Thank you very much!
[Chris OConnor] 10:13 pm: Wow, quick exist LOL
[Robert Tulip] 10:13 pm: The Age of Empathy - very interesting.
[Chris OConnor] 10:13 pm: exit*
[Chris OConnor] 10:13 pm: Thanks for all the great questions and comments guys.
[DWill] 10:13 pm: Thank you.
[Robert Tulip] 10:13 pm: Thanks Chris, for organizing it.
[Chris OConnor] 10:14 pm: It seems there are plenty of us that have some disagreements with de Waal, but discussing this stuff is fun
[Chris OConnor] 10:14 pm: You're very welcome, Robert. Did you get your books?
[Saffron] 10:14 pm: yat
[Saffron] 10:14 pm: oops
[Chris OConnor] 10:14 pm: yat!?
[Saffron] 10:14 pm: ya
[Chris OConnor] 10:14 pm: ROFL
[BookTalk Chatroom]: DWill has left at 10:14 pm
[Chris OConnor] 10:14 pm: I thought you were calling me something horrible
[Saffron] 10:14 pm: never
[Saffron] 10:15 pm: nigh!
[Chris OConnor] 10:15 pm: DWill left without a goodbye.
[Chris OConnor] 10:15 pm: Night Saffron!
[Chris OConnor] 10:15 pm: Talk to you on the forums.
[Chris OConnor] 10:15 pm: Thanks so much Robert
[BookTalk Chatroom]: Saffron has left at 10:15 pm
[BookTalk Chatroom]: Saffron has entered at 10:15 pm
[Chris OConnor] 10:15 pm: She's back.
[Chris OConnor] 10:15 pm: Stop talking about her.
[Robert Tulip] 10:15 pm: damn, ok
[Chris OConnor] 10:16 pm: LOL
[Robert Tulip] 10:16 pm: :grin:
[Chris OConnor] 10:16 pm: Robert, did you get your books?
[BookTalk Chatroom]: Saffron has left at 10:16 pm
[Robert Tulip] 10:16 pm: Hi Chris, yes I got Atheist Universe and the DVD. Thanks very much. Look forward to reading it.
[Chris OConnor] 10:17 pm: Ok, good. Just wanted to make sure.
[Chris OConnor] 10:17 pm: Ok, goodnight guys. I will save this transcript now.
[Chris OConnor] 10:17 pm: And I'll edit out the stupid things I've said.

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