How chimps view the world
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10-06-2014, 12:57 AM (This post was last modified: 10-06-2014 01:12 AM by ghostexorcist.)
How chimps view the world
I recently purchased a book entitled Folk Physics for Apes: The Chimpanzee's Theory of How the World Works (2003). As the name implies, the book explores how the chimps view the world. The author uses the results of experiments involving tool manipulation to derive his information. I haven't gotten into the meat of the book describing the experiments, but I already like what I've read thus far.

The first couple of chapters describe the difference between "folk physics" and "scientific physics." The former is the common sense view of how we think the world works. The latter is of course the way the world really works based on scientific observation. To illustrate the difference between the two the author recalls Galileo's 16th-century experiment in which he dropped a large cannon ball and a small musket ball at the same time. The folk physics of the day believed that the heavy cannon ball would hit the ground well before the much lighter musket ball. However, the result of the experiment was that both hit pretty much at the same time. Thus, the "ought" of the world is not always the same as the "is."

These same chapters also explain why exploring the chimpanzee’s view of the world is important. Many individuals (including myself) fall prey to the fallacy of the “argument by analogy.” The basic idea is that if two individuals exhibit the same behavior, such as a human and chimp using tools in a similar manner, then there must be similar thought processes behind said action. The experiments in the book show that this is not the case. These explain the differences between human and chimp mental processes and shed light on the evolution of thought in the ape lineage.

I will read the book during my free time while I’m studying in Tanzania. I’ll take notes and add them here when I get back.
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