Is Man a Political Ape? Publication date : November 24, 2011
The author of such successful works as Au commencement était l’homme and Lucy et l’Obscurantisme, Pascal Picq is a senior lecturer in the Chair of Palaeoanthropology and Prehistory at the Collège de France.
When we say “Man is a political animal” the emphasis is on “political” but we tend to overlook the fact that humans are animals and that other species may be political too. That is what Pascal Picq reminds us of in this lively and sometimes provocative work, in which he explores the natural origins of politics.
The book opens with a guessing game in which the reader is presented with a short gallery of portraits and fables and is then asked to guess which well-known figure is hidden in the guise of a hamadryas baboon, an orang-utan, a gorilla, a bonobo or a titi monkey.
More than a series of entertaining riddles, this is a serious reflection on power, power ploys and their outcome, as demonstrated by apes. Sex, personal interest, conflict as well as concord and reconciliation are not limited to humans.
• Political practices examined by an eminent palaeoanthropologist and primatologist.
• A fascinating exploration of the power games our cousins the apes play.