Cognitive Ethology: A Behavioural Lens into the Primate Mind
Publication Type:Book Chapter
Source:Lectures on Recent Trends in Ethology and Behavioural Sciences, Department of Zoology, Christ College, Irinjalakuda, p.18–28 (2003)
Empirical studies on the cognitive abilities of nonhuman primates and their underlying mechanisms developed primarily because we assume that their intelligence and, if one may use the term, minds are most like our own. Through our understanding of them, we would possibly one day understand what it is like to be essentially human. However, this view that they are most like us also coexists in our minds with the equally pervasive idea that nonhuman primates differ fundamentally from us because they lack sophisticated language, and may, thus, also lack some of the capacities necessary for reasoning and abstract thought. Given the recent developments in our understanding of the cognitive abilities of many primates, including the possible existence of rudimentary semantic communication in some species, nevertheless, comparative studies on primate taxa may yet throw light on the nature and evolution of different human cognitive abilities, including that holy grail of current cognitive research ??? consciousness.