Folk Physics for Apes: The Chimpanzees theory of how the world works

Paperback | May 15, 2003

byDaniel Povinelli

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From an early age, humans know a surprising amount about basic physical principles, such as gravity, force, mass, and shape. We can see this in the way that young children play, and manipulate objects around them. The same behaviour has long been observed in primates - chimpanzees have beenshown to possess a remarkable ability to make and use simple tools. But what does this tell us about their inner mental state - do they therefore share the same understanding to that of a young child? Do they understand the simple, underlying physical principles involved? Though some people wouldsay that they do, this book reports groundbreaking research that questions whether this really is the case. Folk Physics for Apes challenges the assumptions so often made about apes. It offers us a rare glimpse into the workings of another mind, examining how apes perceive and understand the physical world - an understanding that appears to be both similar to, and yet profoundly different from our own.The book will have broad appeal to evolutionary psychologists, developmental psychologists, and those interested in the sub-disciplines of cognitive science (philosophy, anthropology). The book additionally offers for developmental psychologists some valuable new non-verbal techniques for assessingcausal understanding in young children.

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From the Publisher

From an early age, humans know a surprising amount about basic physical principles, such as gravity, force, mass, and shape. We can see this in the way that young children play, and manipulate objects around them. The same behaviour has long been observed in primates - chimpanzees have beenshown to possess a remarkable ability to make ...

Professor Daniel Povinelli is the recipient of the James McDonnell foundation, Centennial Fellowship in Human cognition ($1,000,000)

other books by Daniel Povinelli

Format:PaperbackDimensions:391 pages, 9.45 × 6.61 × 0.87 inPublished:May 15, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198572190

ISBN - 13:9780198572190

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Table of Contents

An initial word about 'folk physics'Preface1. Folk physics cannot be assumed2. Escaping the argument by analogy3. Causality, tool use, and folk physics: a comparative approach4. The trap-tube problem5. The trap-table problem6. The inverted- and broken-rake problems7. The flimsy-tool problem8. The tool-insertion problem: the question of shape9. The rope, hook, touching-stick, and related problems: the question of physical connection10. The support problem: physical connection revisited11. The bendable-tool and tool-construction problems: the question of tool modification12. Toward a folk physics for chimpanzeesReferences

Editorial Reviews

`Without doubt, Povinelli is the international leader of the field of non-human primate cognition, and his original and ground-breaking experimental studies have led to new understandings of the minds of monkeys and apes. His previous studies illuminated the limits of social understanding or'folk psychology' in these animals. In this new book, Povinelli attacks a different domain, that of 'folk physics', to probe how much or how little our primate cousins understand about the important topic of physical causality. In putting their minds under his microscope, Povinelli simultaneouslyuncovers clues about the evolution of human cognition.'Simon Baron-Cohen, University of Cambridge