Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Imaginative Minds$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Ilona Roth

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264195

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264195.001.0001

Show Summary Details

Great Ape Cognition and the Evolutionary Roots of Human Imagination

Great Ape Cognition and the Evolutionary Roots of Human Imagination

Chapter:
(p.30) (p.31) 2 Great Ape Cognition and the Evolutionary Roots of Human Imagination
Source:
Imaginative Minds
Author(s):

THOMA SUDDENDORF

ANDREW WHITEN

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197264195.003.0002

The imaginative powers of humans obviously exceed those of other species; however these characteristics and knowledge did not spring from nowhere. Instead they evolved on the shoulders of the distinctive psychology of man’s pre-human ancestors. This chapter defines the key characteristics of the ancestral foundations of man and describes the evidence in great ape behaviour for two aspects of imagination. The first level of imagination is inventiveness. Inventiveness is the capacity to generate novel and diverse behavioural responses to any given environmental circumstance. In the experimental studies presented in this chapter wherein chimpanzees are tasked to solve particular problems, it was found that great apes such as gorillas, orang-utans, and chimpanzees display imaginative skills compared to other primates. The second aspect of imagination refers to the capacity to operate mentally in a ‘pretend’ world. This second level of imagination is higher than inventiveness as it requires holding mind distinctions between the hypothetical and real world. Although the experimental studies generated intriguing results, these results are limited, and while the pretence in apes should be observable, it is dominated by the manifestation of a more general capacity for secondary representation.

Keywords:   ancestral foundations, great ape behaviour, inventiveness, pretend world, mind distinctions, hypothetical world, real world, pretence

British Academy Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.