The Age of Empathy

A Primatologist Explores the Development of Empathy in Primates

This month’s Great Read is a wonderful exploration of the deep roots of empathy in our primate cousins by Sir Frans de Waal.

Dr. de Waal began his study of primates by watching for violence, conflict, and warring behaviors, but he soon realized that there were just as many soothing, comforting, fight-avoiding, and consolation behaviors among the animals he studied.

This realization took him on a journey of understanding how empathy works and how it developed in our primate ancestors. The Age of Empathy is a fascinating book, and it’s also a delightful chance to spend time with a humorous and deeply engaged scientist. 

From the introduction to his book: 

“He has found that chimpanzees care for mates that are wounded by leopards, elephants offer reassuring rumbles to youngsters in distress, and dolphins support sick companions near the water’s surface to prevent them from drowning. From day one humans have innate sensitivities to faces, bodies, and voices; we’ve been designed to feel for one another.”

You can learn more or purchase The Age of Empathy here.

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