Human behaviour is a black box. For example, if evolution is a struggle to spread one’s own genes, then how come we have fellow feelings' Evolutionary psychology seeks to explain this conundrum through Darwinian ideas, but not everyone is convinced that all the riddles can be solved by it.
De Waal, a noted primatologist, thinks human behaviour cannot be fully explained by selfish genes and Darwinian competition. A researcher of the social lives of chimpanzees and bonobos, humans’ closest animal relatives, he draws on his vast experience to explain our fellow feeling as well as power-obsessed, violent side.
According to de Waal, we are ‘bipolar apes’ ' as much like bonobos as like chimps. While the former are a model of peace and hedonistic orgies, the latter are known for their viciousness and “red in tooth and claw” competitive behaviour.
De Waal delves deep into power, sex, violence and kindness shown by apes and humans to untangle the strands of these behavioural traits. His analysis is informative as well as entertaining. Readers will learn why they behave they way they do. An exciting read.