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Intelligence of Apes and Other Rational Beings [Hardcover]

Professor Duane M. Rumbaugh , David A. Washburn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 11 2003 Current Perspectives in Psychology
What is animal intelligence? In what ways is it similar to human intelligence? Many behavioural scientists have realized that animals can be rational, can think in abstract symbols, can understand and react to human speech, and can learn through observation as well as conditioning many of the more complicated skills of life. Duane Rumbaugh and David Washburn have identified an advanced level of animal behaviour that reflects animals' natural and active inclination to make sense of the world. Rumbaugh and Washburn unify all behaviour into a framework they call Rational Behaviourism and present it as a new way to understand learning, intelligence and rational behaviour in both animals and humans. Drawing on years of research on issues of complex learning and intelligence in primates (notably rhesus monkeys, chimpanzees and bonobos), Rumbaugh and Washburn provide delightful examples of animal ingenuity and persistence, showing that animals are capable of very creative solutions to novel challenges. The authors analyse learning processes and research methods, discuss the meaningful differences across the primate order and point the way to further advances, enlivening theoretical material about primates with stories about their behaviour and achievements.

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From Publishers Weekly

Prominent behavioral scientists Rumbaugh and Washburn are highly persuasive in their thesis that animals are rational, making decisions by using higher reasoning skills, not by trial and error and not by reacting in simple stimulus-response fashion to their environs. Yet the authors' theory of primate learning and intelligence, a framework they dub "rational behaviorism," fits with Skinnerian and Pavlovian models of conditioning in its explanations of more complex behaviors. For Rumbaugh and Washburn, the key is not simply in studying the response to the stimulus, but the process by which the response is formed, a process far more rich, involved and rational in its cognitive workings than many give animals credit for. The authors describe innovative studies, by themselves and by other researchers in the field, showing that primates can think in abstract symbols, learn through observation, and understand and react to human speech. The most engaging portion of the book focuses on language learning in primates, including descriptions of several ingenious experiments at the San Diego Zoo. Though earnestly written in a clear style, the book will most likely appeal to academics and students of animal behavior, as it reads like an engaging textbook, with some of the scientific explanations verging on dry. For those with an interest in primate intelligence and some scientific background, this passionately argued and well-substantiated summation judiciously renders the complexities of the animal mind.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"In this remarkable book, Duane Rumbaugh and David Washburn illuminate the questions of primate intelligence with style, with savvy, and with compassion. This is an intensely provocative and readable journey through an important subject." Deborah Blum, author of Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection

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5.0 out of 5 stars What Apes Can Teach Us July 30 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
In 'The Intelligence of Apes and Other Rational Beings', Duane Rumbaugh and David Washburn have provided a unique insight into the lives of apes and other nonhuman primates. Rumbaugh has been a major contributor in the investigation of language skills in nonhuman animals, but the present book takes an even more expanded view of animal intelligence. Rumbaugh and Washburn are promoting a new way of looking at the mental lives of animals, and whether you agree or disagree with this new perspective, the book is a "must-read."
In addition to presenting scientific evidence to support the position of the authors that a new perspective of animal intelligence is needed, the book is also an enjoyable recollection of the first author of his career and the influence of his scientific studies on this perspective of animal intelligence. The reader will learn about the ability of great apes (and in some cases other nonhuman primates) to learn language, arithmetic, and other complex cognitive skills.
Readers familiar with the psychology of learning will be particularly interested in the promotion of a new class of behaviors called Emergents. No longer satisfied that the behavior of animals can be separated into the classes of Respondents and Operants, Rumbaugh and Washburn add this third class of behaviors to describe instances in which novel, appropriate behaviors with no clear reinforcement history 'emerge'. This aspect of the book will be controversial, but in a stimulating and intellectually productive manner indicative of good scholarship. Not everyone will agree with the authors' new perspective, but the reader will appreciate the evidence in support of that perspective.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Apes Can Teach Us July 30 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In 'The Intelligence of Apes and Other Rational Beings', Duane Rumbaugh and David Washburn have provided a unique insight into the lives of apes and other nonhuman primates. Rumbaugh has been a major contributor in the investigation of language skills in nonhuman animals, but the present book takes an even more expanded view of animal intelligence. Rumbaugh and Washburn are promoting a new way of looking at the mental lives of animals, and whether you agree or disagree with this new perspective, the book is a "must-read."
In addition to presenting scientific evidence to support the position of the authors that a new perspective of animal intelligence is needed, the book is also an enjoyable recollection of the first author of his career and the influence of his scientific studies on this perspective of animal intelligence. The reader will learn about the ability of great apes (and in some cases other nonhuman primates) to learn language, arithmetic, and other complex cognitive skills.
Readers familiar with the psychology of learning will be particularly interested in the promotion of a new class of behaviors called Emergents. No longer satisfied that the behavior of animals can be separated into the classes of Respondents and Operants, Rumbaugh and Washburn add this third class of behaviors to describe instances in which novel, appropriate behaviors with no clear reinforcement history 'emerge'. This aspect of the book will be controversial, but in a stimulating and intellectually productive manner indicative of good scholarship. Not everyone will agree with the authors' new perspective, but the reader will appreciate the evidence in support of that perspective.
The contributions of Duane Rumbaugh to the understanding of primate behavior have been substantial, and this book is an excellent summary of what has been learned through Rumbaugh's research. It is well written and would be enjoyable for people of all ages who have an interest in learning about animal intelligence, ape behavior, and more general learning processes.
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too analytical for me Feb. 22 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I expected more anecdotal evidence and less scientific methodology for a general audience.
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