Closely examining anthropocentric theories of culture, de Waal counterposes the notion of anthropodenial, "the a priori rejection of shared characteristics between humans and animals when in fact they may exist." He takes issue with "selfish gene" theories of behaviour, arguing spiritedly that there are better models for explaining why animals--and humans--do what they do. And, against Aristotle, he argues that humans are not the only political animals, if by politics we mean a social process "determining who gets what, when, and how." What animals and humans clearly share, he concludes, are societies in which stability is an impossibility--an observation that may disappoint utopians, but that helps explain some of the world's peculiarities.
Perhaps no human alive knows more about the great apes than does Frans de Waal. With The Ape and the Sushi Master, he ably shows that he knows a great deal about humans, too. Students of biology, culture, and communication will find much food for thought in his pages. --Gregory McNamee...Continua