His presentation is being sponsored by the Berry College Honors Program as part of the Oxbridge Lecture Series. Admission is free and open to the public.
De Waal is a Dutch/American biologist known for his research into the social intelligence of primates. His first book, “Chimpanzee Politics,” compared the behavior of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. In the years since that book was published in 1982, he has continued to draw parallels between primate and human behavior in such diverse areas as peacemaking, morality and culture.
The subject matter for his presentation is drawn from his latest book, “The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for Kinder Society.”
“Greed is out and empathy is in,” De Waal stated. “In biology, the focus on genetic self-interest — while not denied — is increasingly replaced by one on empathy, cooperation and fairness.
“In my own work with monkeys and apes, I have found many cases of one individual coming to another’s aid in a fight, putting an arm around a previous victim of attack, or other emotional responses to the distress of others. In fact, the entire communication system of nonhuman primates seems emotionally mediated, as Darwin suggested.”