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How Monkeys See the World: Inside the Mind of Another Species Paperback – 1 Mar 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; New edition edition (1 Mar 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226102467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226102467
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,057,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
On the 5th of September, 1379, as two herds of swine, one belonging to the commune and the other to the priory of Saint-Marcel-le-Jeussey, were feeding together near that town, three sows of the communal herd, excited and enraged by the squealing of one of the porklings, rushed upon Perrinot Muet, the son of the swinekeeper, and before his father could come to his rescue, threw him to the ground and so severely injured him that he died soon afterwards. Read the first page
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cheney and Seyfarth started research on vervet monkeys as post doctoral fellows of Rockefeller University, an interest that was to lead to 13 years (1977-1990) of field work in the Amboseli National Park of Kenya and eventually this book.
The question is "How do monkeys see the world?" and the interesting answer of Cheney and Seyforth is that monkeys see and learn that A leads to B but don't know why. As they say,"An individual who cannot reflect upon his own knowledge to form hypotheses about what he knows, will almost by definition be unable to extend knowledge from one context to another".

This basic fact accounts for the lack of teaching of young monkeys. They have to learn by observation that A leads to B. The adult doesn't know that it knows anything so it is not surprising that it doesn't do any teaching. Monkeys live in a world of action and reaction without an understanding of what is happening.

Cheney and Seyfarth note that at least 70% of the deaths of vervet monkeys in Amboseli are from predation and that frequent predators are leopards and pythons.
Consequently reactions to different alarm calls are tailored to meet the threat (leopard- run for a tree, python- stand on back legs and look around), but secondary signals indicating leopards or pythons that are clear to humans are lost to the vervets. They can't make a mental picture of the behavior of leopards or pythons and consequently fail to see the danger of a recent leopard kill (leopards nearby) or a fresh python track leading into a bush. They were observed on occasion to walk straight into the bush despite a very clear and fresh track indicating that the snake was there.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
What Can a Monkey Know? 26 Mar 2002
By xaosdog - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in connection with graduate coursework under Seyfarth at the University of Pennsylvania. Cheney and Seyfarth describe a fascinating line of research on primates, mainly but not solely their own work on vervet monkeys. The goal is to form an account of the mind of the nonhuman primate -- how much do they understand about themselves, about other minds, and about the world?
I think that these are questions that fascinate almost all of us. What would it be like to be very nearly as intelligent as a human being, but to lack language (not merely a means of communication but also a way of formulating knowledge -- therefore a modality of knowing)? It is, of course, impossible ever to understand as a monkey understands or to feel as a monkey feels, but there is no better way to learn what a monkey can know or feel than Cheney and Seyfarth's engaging book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
How monkeys see the world 12 Sep 2012
By Baraniecki Mark Stuart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cheney and Seyfarth started research on vervet monkeys as post doctoral fellows of Rockefeller University, an interest that was to lead to 13 years (1977-1990) of field work in the Amboseli National Park of Kenya and eventually this book.
The question is "How do monkeys see the world?" and the interesting answer of Cheney and Seyfarth is that monkeys see and learn that A leads to B but don't know why. As they say,"An individual who cannot reflect upon his own knowledge to form hypotheses about what he knows, will almost by definition be unable to extend knowledge from one context to another".

This basic fact accounts for the lack of teaching of young monkeys. They have to learn by observation that A leads to B. The adult doesn't know that it knows anything so it is not surprising that it doesn't do any teaching. Monkeys live in a world of action and reaction without an understanding of what is happening.

Cheney and Seyfarth note that at least 70% of the deaths of vervet monkeys in Amboseli are from predation and that frequent predators are leopards and pythons.
Consequently reactions to different alarm calls are tailored to meet the threat (leopard- run for a tree, python- stand on back legs and look around), but secondary signals indicating leopards or pythons that are clear to humans are lost to the vervets. They can't make a mental picture of the behavior of leopards or pythons and consequently fail to see the danger of a recent leopard kill (leopards nearby) or a fresh python track leading into a bush. They were observed on occasion to walk straight into the bush despite a very clear and fresh track indicating that the snake was there.
Their conclusion is mirrored in human development, where it is only at the relatively late age of 4-6 years that children can imagine another persons point of view (i.e. think in the abstract). This is shown in the important experiment by Wimmer and Penner (page 207) and seems to indicate that this is the developmental stage where monkeys and humans part company.

In my opinion this is a very valuable book, especially as the work was done over such a long period and in the animals natural environment.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
this is a required textbook for anthropology graduate course 19 Jan 2013
By kathy fietz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i paid very little for this book and it had a gorgous thick library binding
rather than the paperback most students had. a fascinating book
and printed on beautiful paper and arrived fast too.
its like a story and very easy to follow
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