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Frans de Waal

Geburtstag: 29. Oktober 1948

Fransiscus Bernardus Maria „Frans“ de Waal ist ein niederländischer Zoologe und Verhaltensforscher, der sich seit Anfang der 1970er Jahre speziell mit Schimpansen und Bonobos befasst, aber auch mit Makaken, Kapuzineraffen, Elefanten und Buntbarschen.

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„Uns nur als Killeraffen zu betrachten, bezeichne ich als den Beethoven-Fehler: Beethoven war unorganisiert und schlampig, seine Musik jedoch ist der Inbegriff von Ordnung.“ in Der Spiegel 34/2006

„Die Kultur des Menschen liegt gleichsam an der Leine seiner biologischen Natur. Niemals kann sich Kultur gegen die Natur des Menschen richten.“ in Der Spiegel 33/2002


„Eine sehr interessante Zeit ist angebrochen. Menschen werden biologischer, Tiere werden kultureller.“ in Der Spiegel 33/2002

„Nie hat ein Tier mit einem größeren inneren Konflikt auf dieser Erde gelebt. Insofern haben wir nicht einen Affen in uns, sondern mindestens zwei. Mit diesem Widerspruch müssen wir leben.“ in Der Spiegel 34/2006

„Sigmund Freud und auch der französische Ethnologe Claude Lévi-Strauss haben uns eingehämmert, wir Menschen seien die einzigen Kulturwesen. Die Vorstellung einer tierischen Kultur war deshalb im Westen undenkbar.“ in Der Spiegel 33/2002

„Ein junger Affe ist vergleichbar mit dem Lehrling eines Sushimeisters. Der schaut seinem Meister einige Jahre lang bei der Arbeit zu. Dadurch hat es die Abläufe so verinnerlicht, daß er sie am Tag seiner Feuertaufe selbst ausführen kann. Zu dieser Transferleistung sind auch Affen fähig. Und das ist Kultur.“ in Der Spiegel 33/2002

„The enemy of science is not religion.... The true enemy is the substitution of thought, reflection, and curiosity with dogma.“

„If we look straight and deep into a chimpanzee's eyes, an intelligent self-assured personality looks back at us. If they are animals, what must we be?“


„Friedrich Nietzsche, who famously gave us the ‘God is dead’ phrase was interested in the sources of morality. He warned that the emergence of something (whether an organ, a legal institution, or a religious ritual) is never to be confused with its acquired purpose: ‘Anything in existence, having somehow come about, is continually interpreted anew, requisitioned anew, transformed and redirected to a new purpose.’

This is a liberating thought, which teaches us to never hold the history of something against its possible applications. Even if computers started out as calculators, that doesn’t prevent us from playing games on them. (47) (quoting Nietzsche, the Genealogy of Morals)“
The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates

„Perhaps it's just me, but I am wary of any persons whose belief system is the only thing standing between them and repulsive behavior.“ The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates

„I sometimes try to imagine what would have happened if we’d known the bonobo first and the chimpanzee only later—or not at all. The discussion about human evolution might not revolve as much around violence, warfare and male dominance, but rather around sexuality, empathy, caring and cooperation. What a different intellectual landscape we would occupy!“ Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are

„Being both more systematically brutal than chimps and more empathetic than
bonobos, we are by far the most bipolar ape. Our societies are never completely peaceful, never completely competitive, never ruled by sheer selfishness, and never perfectly moral.“


„So, don’t believe anyone who says that since nature is based on a struggle for life, we need to live like this as well. Many animals survive not by eliminating each other or keeping everything for themselves, but by cooperating and sharing. This applies most definitely to pack hunters, such as wolves or killer whales, but also to our closest relatives, the primates.“ The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society

„When we see a disciplined society, there is often a social hierarchy behind it. This hierarchy, which determines who can eat or mate first, is ultimately rooted in violence.“ The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates

„Are we open-minded enough to assume that other species have a mental life? Are we creative enough to investigate it? Can we tease apart the roles of attention, motivation, and cognition? Those three are involved in everything animals do; hence poor performance can be explained by any one of them.“ Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

„Along with people in other creative professions, such as artists and musicians, many scientists experience this transcendence. I do so every day. For one, it's impossible to look an ape in the eye and not see oneself. There are other animals with frontally oriented eyes, but none that give you the shock of recognitions of the ape's. Looking back at you is not so much an animal but a personality as solid and willful as yourself.“ The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates

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