Culture Prefigures Cognition in Pan/Homo Bonobos

Sue SAVAGE-RUMBAUGH, William M. FIELDS, Par SEGERDAHL

Abstract


This article questions traditional approaches to the study of primate cognition. Because of a widespread assumption that cognition in non-human primates is genetically encoded, these approaches neglect how profoundly apes’ cultural rearing experiences affect test results. We describe how three advanced cognitive abilities – imitation, theory of mind and language – emerged in bonobos maturing in a Pan/Homo culture.

Keywords


primate cognition, imitation, theory of mind, language, culture, ethnography.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1387/theoria.565