frans de waal : our inner ape

for life, love and marriage, and workplace our heritage was our fate in the last centuries and millennia.

today, in the age of knowledge and insight, we are able to change our fate and follow our own path once we know where to head.

but to follow our path towards a chosen target we must for a start know where we are. we have to understand our position, ourselves. to understand ourselves, we must understand our roots as humans. but those roots are much less our roots as mankind and much more our roots as primates.


frans de waal answers this in the very first sentence of his book ‘our inner ape’:

“one can take the ape out of the jungle, but not the jungle out of the ape.”
everything else follows. and you should follow his journey through all those astonishing similarities between the different primate family members by yourself – to understand who you are and what makes you tick. to become a better person, manager, leader, politician, member of society, human, primate.
(one striking link between this book and the findings of ‘the rise of the creative class’ by richard florida i must add, because it is not mentioned in ‘the inner ape’: “our societies probably work best if they mimic as closely as possible the small-scale communities of our ancestors.” (frans de waal) … “the modern trend to physically separate places where human needs are satisfied disrupts this tradition, making us live at one place, shop at another, and work at yet another. it´s a disaster for community building, not to mention the time, stress, and fuel it takes to move all those people around.” (frans de waal)

– sentences which immediately brought florida´s ‘community of ideas’ (and his ten principles to build it) to my mind again.)
and who is not intrigued by de waal´s first sentence should think about his book´s very last sentences (where ‘animal’ is humankind): “… we see one of the most internally conflicted animals to ever walk on earth. it is capable of unbelievable destruction of both its environment and its own kind, yet at the same time it possesses wells of empathy and love deeper than ever seen before. since this animal has gathered dominance over all others, it´s all the more important that it takes an honest look in the mirror, so that it knows both the archenemy it faces and the ally that stands ready to help it build a better world.”

… in life, management and leadership, i must add.