Intelligence of Apes and Other Rational Beings


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Duane M. Rumbaugh and David A. Washburn

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A new way to look at the mysteries of the animal mind

What is animal intelligence? In what ways is it similar to human intelligence? Many behavioral scientists have realized that animals can be rational, can think in abstract symbols, can understand and react to human speech, and can learn through observation as well as conditioning many of the more complicated skills of life. Now Duane Rumbaugh and David Washburn probe the mysteries of the animal mind even further, identifying an advanced level of animal behavior—emergents—that reflects animals’ natural and active inclination to make sense of the world. Rumbaugh and Washburn unify all behavior into a framework they call Rational Behaviorism and present it as a new way to understand learning, intelligence, and rational behavior in both animals and humans. Drawing on years of research on issues of complex learning and intelligence in primates (notably rhesus monkeys, chimpanzees, and bonobos), Rumbaugh and Washburn provide delightful examples of animal ingenuity and persistence, showing that animals are capable of very creative solutions to novel challenges. The authors analyze learning processes and research methods, discuss the meaningful differences across the primate order, and point the way to further advances, enlivening theoretical material about primates with stories about their behavior and achievements.

Duane M. Rumbaugh, Regents Professor emeritus in the Departments of Psychology and Biology at Georgia State University, is the cofounder and recent director of the Language Research Center there. David A. Washburn is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the Language Research Center at Georgia State University.

“Intelligence of Apes and Other Rational Beings is the best single source where one can find out what apes and monkeys know and how we know it. It is also an entertaining, highly informative candid history of studies of anthropoid learning and cognition, which points the way toward future discoveries.”—Russ Tuttle, Professor of Anthropology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Chicago

“In this remarkable book, Duane Rumbaugh and David Washburn illuminate the questions of primate intelligence with style, with savvy, and with compassion. This is an intensely provocative—and readable—journey through an important subject.”—Deborah Blum, author of Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection

“An important contribution to our understanding of the evolution and development of intelligence and cognition.”—Gary Greenberg, Wichita State University

"An important, original book that presents a body of primate learning and a perspective that has heretofore not received the attention that it deserves.”—James King, University of Arizona

"This book summarizes decades of research on ape behavior, and it’s a mindblower."—National Geographic Adventure

"Earnestly written in a clear style, [this] book will most likely appeal to academics and students of animal behavior. . . . For those with an interest in primate intelligence and some scientific background, this passionately argued and well-substantiated summation judiciously renders the complexities of the animal mind."—Publishers Weekly

“The book is worth the attention of anyone interested in animal learning and behavior. Its interdisciplinary nature links studies in ethology, neurophysiology, behavior, and cognition through the overarching principle of rational behaviorism. . . . Rumbaugh and Washburn’s theory increases the sophistication of our understanding of complex behaviors and affords animals a more esteemed position in our world. Intelligence of Apes and Other Rational Beings provides a window into the ways that animals are creative.”—Francine Dolins, Science

“This is a noteworthy, admirable attempt to synthesize the literature on primate intelligence. In doing so, it succeeds all the more in detailing the impressive career of one of the most important ape cognition researchers of the past 40 years.”—Craig Stanford, The Quarterly Review of Biology

“Intelligence, creativity and complex learning in non-human animals have concerned psychologists and others throughout the history of psychology and the evolutionary sciences. . . . Rumbaugh and Washburn have addressed these issues by amassing data from animal research and developing concepts that can be useful in understanding intelligent behavior in both non-human animals and human beings.”—H. Carl Haywood, American Psychological Society

 Awarded the D.O. Hebb Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award for 2005 by the Executive Committee of Division 6 of the American Psychological Association.

Winner of the 2006 Distinguished Primatologist Award from the American Society of Primatologists.

ISBN: 9780300099836
Publication Date: August 11, 2003
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
35 b/w illus.
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