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The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal Hardcover – 16 Oct 1967

4.5 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 16 Oct 1967
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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; First Edition edition (16 Oct. 1967)
  • ASIN: B0038XJGXS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
A truly enlightening account of the human condition. Using a scientific approach, refering to Darwinian theory, Desmond Morris explains many of the physiological and phsychological characteristics of human beings. This book seems to hit the nail on the head and although written over 30 years ago, still makes perfect sense.
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Format: Paperback
This book is vital for anyone who's ever wondered about modern man and our absurd behaviour. It is NOT a science book so don't be frightened of it - it's an often hilarious description of how we got ourselves into this awful mess (living in big cities, having wars and so on) with some really insightful and authoritative thinking thrown in. Unless you're an extreme creationist or an axe-grinding geneticist, you will love this book, whoever you are.
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Format: Paperback
I generally liked this book and I definitely recommend it for its view of humans as just another species. However, in my view it has two weaknesses.

Firstly, the author has a tendency to descend to political and social commentary, which tends to come across as a bit dated at times. In some cases it feels more like a view into the culture of 1967 than any profound insight into human nature. For example, he asserts that the "psychological damage" done to our territorial nature by "rows of uniformly repeated, identical houses" is "incalculable" - surely a social comment, not a scientific view. Nuclear war and population growth are mentioned more than once as real concerns - again, his analysis is a reflection of the time and place that the book was written. (He may well be right about his theories of course, and probably is in many places - it's just quite subjective).

Secondly, quite a lot of the book reads like a "just so" story. <Just So Stories (Wordsworth's Children's Classics)>. E.g. when discussing how humans feed, he describes how we like a few well-spaced meals rather than continual grazing. This is held as an example of our carnivorous ancestry. On the next page however, he describes how we do sometimes eat (sweet) inter-meal snacks. This doesn't present any problems though: hey presto! in this case we do it because of our primate ancestry. If you follow the same line of reasoning, you could conclude that we like sunbathing because of our reptile ancestry.

The chapter on animals seems the worst in this respect, sometimes almost laughably so.
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Format: Paperback
If any of you kids out there hadnt noticed, in the network premier of 'Bring it on' an american cheerleading film, the token intelligent/quirky guy is reading 'The Naked Ape' by Desmond Morris, and for those of you who have read that book, i heartily recommned this one. A continuation if you will, of many themes in his flagship book, it makes you question things you hadnt even noticed and you will undoubtably have several moments of 'of course, why didnt i think of that?'. Elaine Morgan is also a good read (Aquatic Ape Hypothesis) I read both while doing my psychology degree, and while they are written to be accessaable to everyone, they still have many good ideas, and written better, i might add, than many technical books which often have confusing jargon for the most simple of things.
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Format: Paperback
Every sentance contains so much to think about. One chapter may take some time to fully appreciate. Psychology, sociology and physiology are all covered in magnificent detail. You may never look upon other people in the same way again. You will find that the chapter on sex is a brilliant insight. Well worth investing your time in.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first read this book over twenty years ago as a undergraduate and found it groundbreaking in its breadth and scope concerning the human race, it's evolution in relation to the other major animal groups and how this human evolution made us the dominant species on Earth even with all our "quirks and inherent weakness".
It was easy to understand and a very persausive argument, pretty much taking up where Darwin left off but in a much more understandable fashion while going into depth about why we react and act as we do.

Since I intially read this and the other books in the series, there has been some academic criticism about various assertions the book makes. Mainly about what it says about humans, our general behaviour patterns and the reasons for them.
However, for me it is still almost like a "bible" of scientific common sense in terms of it's explanation of many aspects of human behaviour that I still continue to experience in the real world today.I still feel Morris is "onto something" with his remarkable insights to the human condition, how it relates to the animal world and how we have managed to adapt our animal nature to the complex "man made" enormous cityscapes and nation groupings of humans today.
Whether as an argument for Human behaviour it will continue to makes sense in times to come I have no idea but compared to other explanations for human behaviour such as Freud and other "Psycho babble" it for me is much more plausible.

Read it! You may be suprised!
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