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Culture Prefigures Cognition in Pan/Homo Bonobos

Savage-Rumbaugh, Sue and Fields, William M. and Segerdahl, Par and Rumbaugh, Duane (2005) Culture Prefigures Cognition in Pan/Homo Bonobos. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 20 (3). pp. 311-328. ISSN 2171-679X

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This article questions traditional experimental approaches to the study of primate cognition. Because of a widespread assumption that cognition in non-human primates is genetically encoded and “natural,” these approaches neglect how profoundly apes’ cultural rearing experiences affect test results. We describe how three advanced cognitive abilities – imitation, theory of mind and language – emerged in bonobos maturing in a bi-species Pan/Homo culture, and how individual rearing differences led to individual forms of these abilities. These descriptions are taken from a rich ethnographic material, and we argue for the scientific superiority of participant-based ethnographic studies of primate cognition in shared Pan/Homo cultures.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Fields, William M.
Additional Information: ISSN: 0495-4548 (print)
Keywords: primate cognition, imitation, theory of mind, language, culture, ethnography
Depositing User: Users 15304 not found.
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2014 17:33
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2014 17:33
Item ID: 10473
Journal or Publication Title: THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science
Publisher: Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del País Vasco
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Date: September 2005
Page Range: pp. 311-328
Volume: 20
Number: 3
ISSN: 2171-679X

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