Fall 2014 – Eugene Lang College, New York
Ape Cultures and Human Nature
Does culture still define human nature? From their Japanese colleagues, Euro-American primatologists learned socially that socially learned behaviors distinguish groups of other primates, too. But then why is it that the complexity of chimpanzee cultures hardly exceeds the use of hammer and anvil while some Homo sapiens have lately begun to build Boeing 747s? And what happens if humans and apes develop a new culture together, as in a recently terminated ape language project in Iowa? From the point of view of science and technology studies, this course explores historical antecedents and anthropological and philosophical implications of the current primatological controversy over cultural differences in apes.