Canisius ISHAR

Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations


The Bonobo and the Atheist: Morality, Religion, and Prosocial Primates


Frans de Waal
Professor, Emory University
Director, NPRC’s Living Links Center

August 2, 2013

Dr. de Waal comes to us from Atlanta, Georgia, where he is the Candler Professor of Psychology at Emory University, and he is the Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center.  He is a member of the (US) National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.  In 2007, he was selected by Time as one of The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People, and in 2011 by Discover as among the all-time Great Minds of Science.

Dr. de Waal is a behavioral biologist known for his work on the social intelligence of primates. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982) compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. Dr de Waal’s work has focused on the ‘building blocks’ of morality in other animals, and it has revolutionized not just primatology but moral psychology. By revealing our commonalities with other species, he gives us a deeper understanding of them and also of ourselves. His talk was a companion to his most recent publication, The Bonobo and the Atheist.