How Monkeys See World: BBS Multiple Book Review

Stevan Harnad harnad at
Sun Mar 24 00:28:39 EST 1991

Below is the abstract of a book that will be accorded multiple book
review in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), an international,
interdisciplinary journal that provides Open Peer Commentary on
important and controversial current research in the biobehavioral and
cognitive sciences. Commentators must be current BBS Associates or
nominated by a current BBS Associate. To be considered as a commentator
on this book, to suggest other appropriate commentators, or for
information about how to become a BBS Associate, please send email to:

harnad at  or harnad at pucc.bitnet        or write to:
BBS, 20 Nassau Street, #240, Princeton NJ 08542  [tel: 609-921-7771]

To help us put together a balanced list of commentators, please give some
indication of the aspects of the topic on which you would bring your
areas of expertise to bear if you are selected as a commentator.
          BBS Multiple Book Review of:

		(University of Chicago Press 1989)

         	Robert Seyfarth & Dorothy Cheney
		University of Pennsylvania
		Philadelphia PA 19704

                seyfarth at
                cheney at

Our book examines the mechanisms that underlie social behavior and
communication in East African vervet monkeys. Our goal is to describe
the sophistication of primate intelligence and to probe its limits. We
suggest that vervets and other primates make good primatologists. They
observe social interactions, recognize the relations that exist among
others, and classify relationships into types. Monkeys also use sounds
to represent features of their environment and compare different
vocalizations according to their meaning. However, while monkeys may
use abstract concepts and have motives, beliefs, and desires, their
mental states are apparently not accessible: they do not know what they
know. In addition, monkeys seem unable to attribute mental states to
others: they lack a "theory of mind." Their inability to examine their
own mental states or to attribute mental states to others severely
constrains their ability to transmit information or to deceive one
another. It also limits the extent to which their vocalizations can be
called semantic. Finally, the skills that monkeys exhibit in social
behavior are apparently domain specific. For reasons that are presently
unclear, vervets exhibit adaptive specializations in social
interactions that are not extended to their interactions with other
species (although they should be).
Stevan Harnad INTERNET:  harnad at    harnad at
srh at    harnad at      harnad at princeton.uucp
BITNET:   harnad at pucc.bitnet           CSNET: at

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