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УLanguageФ and intelligence in monkeys and apes Comparative developmental perspectives. Edited by Sue Taylor Parker and Kathleen Gibson. New York Cambridge University Press. 1990 xvii + 590 pp. $65

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AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL. ANTHROPOLOGY 85:465-476 (1991)
Book Reviews
HOWMONKEYS
S E E THE WORLD: INSIDE THE MIND
OF ANOTHER
SPECIES. By Dorothy L. Cheney
and Robert M. Seyfarth. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1990, x + 377 pp.,
pervades the structuring of the questions
and the organization of the volume as a
whole. Except for Premack’s pioneering
work on the minds of apes, explorations of
$24.95 (cloth).
langua e and mind by philosophers have
been s ow to penetrate studies of primate
intelligence and discussions of the evolution
of language-no doubt because the language
“LANGUAGE”
AND INTELLIGENCE
IN MONKEYS
AND of analytic philosophy appears impenetrable.
APES:COMPARATIVE
DEVELOPMENTAL
PERSPECHow Monkeys See the World is the summaTIVES. Edited by Sue Ta lor Parker and
Kathleen Gibson. New Iyork: Cambridge tion of 11years of fieldwork on East African
University Press. 1990, xvii + 590 pp”., vervets with an emphasis on their social
behavior and communication as it informs us
$65.00 (cloth).
about the extent and limitations of monkey
How Monkeys See the World is the most intelligence. The book takes the reader into a
important field investigation of animal intel- consideration of intentionality, communicaligence to emerge from the anthropolog/ tion, and the nature of knowledge and mind
rimatology literature. The book is bril- that has been at the heart of discussion in the
Eantly conceived and executed, and it philoso hy of mind for several decades.
How %onkeys See the World yields excitdeserves to be at the center of any discussion
about the evolution of primate and human ing new insights into the evolution of mind in
primates and probably in other species. The
intelligence.
“Language” and Intelligence in Monkeys insight lies in the h pothesis, not new but
and Apes, edited by Parker and Gibson, con- never so convincing y documented and arsists of studies of monkeys and a es and is gued, that primate intelligence emer ed
relatively untouched by philosop ical con- within the domain of social interaction. #he
cepts of mind. Papers are collected into six authors conclude that mental processes (like
topics: theoretical frameworks, development analogical reasoning) by which knowledge
of Cebus intelligence, the question of imi- may be extended across contexts entails contation and cultural transmission, social in- scious access to what is known and the attelligence and communication in apes, nu- tribution of similar knowledge and mental
merical and classificatory abilities, and processes (a theory of mind) to others. Differdevelopment of “sign language” in labora- ences between primate intelligences consist
tory-trained apes. Although the Pia etian of differential extensions of these originally
perspective is argued with remarkab e con- domain-specific capacities across contexts
viction (b Parker, Gibson, and several other and modalities. The differentiation of cogniof the aut ors) both its comparative develop- tive ca acities within primates can be acmental and evolutionary arguments are counte for by the extension of knowled e,
i.e., representations of relationships in t e
weak.
Insights from the philosophy of lan age social domain (including kinds of threats),
and mind are the impetus for pro ound across contexts from own group to the groups
changes in the formulations of experimental of neighboring conspecifics, to other
cognitive gsycholoy It is a pleasant sur- to inanimate objects, and
prise that ennett, t e most comprehensible environment. Cheney and
of American philosophers of mind, has col- speculate on the mechanism(s) by which
laborated so closely with Cheney and Sey- knowledge becomes conscious and is exfarth on How Monke s See the World to tended across modalities. The material on
produce this philoso {ical analysis of ani- monkeys presents so little evidence for the
mal intelligence in tRe wild. His influence extension of knowledge across content do-
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@ 1991 WILEY-LISS, INC.
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BOOK REVIEWS
mains (much less consciousness) that their
speculation is ‘ustly constrained.
Evidence o abstract concepts and conscious behavior in laboratory-trained apes
highlights the puzzle of the extension of
knowledge across contexts to which researchers have only preliminary intuitions.
Can researchers recognize conscious access
to knowledege manifested in the wild, and
would such a recognized manifestation constitute sufficient evidence for selection on
one particular content domain rather than
some other (social rather than technical, for
exam le)? In “Upgrading a mind,” Premack
(19847argued that amon his chimpanzees,
the ability to conceptua!fize abstract relations among relations was an artifact of the
language-training program. The possibility
that langua e training (language-like behavior) itsel affords the ground upon which
such conscious access to knowledge (extension across content domains on an abstract
conce tual level) is built remains to be explore:.
Part I of “Language”and Intelligence in
Monkeys and Apes attem ts to present a
more unified theoretical ramework for a
com arative develo mental evolutionary
psyc ology. The aut ors contend that the
correlation of neurological maturational
events and behavioral stages of development
demonstrates an underlying lineal hylogenetic elaboration inherent in the ifferent
cognitive capacities of nonhuman primates
and humans. Parker’s (P&G 1)articulation
of a neo-Piagetian framework is correlated
with developmental neurolo by Gibson
(P&G 31, creating a simple an superficially
persuasive argument for the recapitulation
of the ontogeny of primate intelli ence in the
evolution of human cognition an language.
Only Gibson (P&G 3) comes close to considering a neurological mechanism with the
potential to abstract and extend primate
intelli ence about their natural habitat. She
descri es the development of neurophysiological structures responsible for complex
sensorimotor coordination, but it is not integrated into a theory of intentionality or consciousness. Because Gibson does not address
the problems of mind, she cannot bridge the
gap between monkey and a e intelligence,
much less between ape an human cognition. All large mammals, including ourselves, must utilize numerous recursive
mental processes without consciousness.
What constitutes the prerequisites for some
of the information from some of these pro-
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cesses to attain consciousness? Notable psycholossts, neurologists, philosophers, and
biologists disagree about whether or not intentionality and consciousness are merely
“the a eurunce of volition” (p. 107, emphasis aba)ed)-simply
an additional level of
hierarchical neurological recursion (see
Marcel and Bisiach, 1988).
Parker and Gibson argue that a functional
elaboration of hand-eye coordinationlinked t o extractive foraging and the use of
tools-focused selection on increasin constructional capacities (re uiring Yarger
brains) in early hominids. fanguage and
intelligence are conceived of as extensions of
the constructional behavior employed in tool
use and manufacture into domains of social
or anization, lanning, and communication.
ktinucci ( &G 5) argues that the struc-
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that the relative retardation of inde endent
locomotion in Cebus and human in ants as
compared with gorilla and macaque infants
necessarily channels exploratory behavior
from the mouth to the hands during stage 2
prehension development. Thus, the use of
the hand as an instrument of exploration
from the earliest stages of development may
explain the more sophisticated tool and object manipulation in Cebus and human
adults. The appearance of inde endent locomotion rather than selection or object manipulation becomes the constrainin develo mental parameter. Here, the deve opment
o different systems is far from independent,
and differences in developmental rates affect
both the kind and complexity of behaviors
among related species.
Fra aszy’s (P&G 6) discussion suggests
that t e stages within the various domains
are analytic fictions resulting from the arbitrary division of rocess into discrete performances in time. s a result, parameters that
control transitions between states are not
differentiated. Investigators, she claims,
have missed potential explanations of developmental transformation (especially during
early infancy) “by overlookingcomponents in
the behavioral s stem other than the inferred cognitive a ilities or maturation, and
by acce ting synchronous change as evidence o functional linkage” (p. 179).
Using a systems approach, Fragaszy con-
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BOOK REVIEWS
trasts the developmental variation between
human- and mother-reared capuchins and
demonstrates that the timing and appearance of locomotion or prehension are not tied
to cognitive maturation but rather to cyclical
physical processes affected by whether or not
the infant is carried by the mother. Sensitive
to the external context of behavior, this approach focuses on the dynamic organization
of elements, not on the functional consequences of that organization. Emergent behavior is observed challenging the cognitive
formulations that posit the assimilation and
construction of knowledge of space and objects as dependent on the appearance of voluntary movement.
A systems approach predicts behavioral
discontinuity in the onto en of behavior
and in evolution. The lac o spontaneous
limitation of tool use in monkeys or apes
produces such a discontinuity (Visalberghi
and Fragaszy, P&G 9; Tomasello, P&G 10).
Co itive constraints on representational
a b E y (object permanence, means-ends,
and self-recognition)in specific domains are
postulated to account for the lack of imitation in capuchins and, by extension, in other
monkeys and apes. Cheney and Seyfarth, on
the other hand, argue that representational
ability can be demonstrated in limited contexts but that the animals are incapable of
extending such representations across contexts. Because imitation and instruction amplify and transform technical and social intelligence, they ma be a decontrolling
arameter in the evo ution of hominid intelEgence
Vauciair (P&G 11)attempts to structure
stages of representational complexit in rimate s stems of communication. He $iscusses t e discontinuity between human and
nonhuman langua e-affiliated activities in
terms of the socia conventions that dominate the meanings and functions of human
language. Activities central to building conventional symbolic meanin typical of human interactions are virtual y absent amon
monkeys and a es: imitation, combinatoriaf
and symbolic p ay; and the interactive patterns such as mutual focus, turn taking,
giving, and ointing.
Miles’s ( &G 19) interesting paper on
development of reference in the signing of
an orangutan, Greenfield and Savage-Rumbaugh’s (P&G 20) thorou h paper on the
ammatical com inations of lexisystemic
ams an demonstrative estures used by a
%kobo chimpanzee, and omez’s (P&G 12)
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work on intentional communication in a nonsigning gorilla provide evidence for arallels
between ape and deaf children’s ear y use in
communicative modes (lin istic and nonlinguistic). This existence o parallels raises
(but does not answer) questions about the
ontogenetic and hylo enetic continuity of
processes that un erlie anguage-like behavior and about the effect of language training
onco ition.
OngPepperberg (P&G 18),in her superb
article on numerical concepts in an African
gray parrot, questions how the observer’s
assumptions impose form (without a necessary function) on the intelligence observed.
Pep erberg’s work underscores the likelihooi that underlying functions and mechanisms for communication and other cognitive tasks (e.g., memory, information
processing,.categorization) are not the same
across species. Pep erberg speculates (alon
lines similar to the ypothesis of Chene an
Seyfarth) that cross-modal transfers oTabilities may be common in the wild. Although
uestions about the natural function of such
s ills must be answered in the animal’s natural habitat, researchers may manipulate
these cross-modally accessible skills in captivit to address questions of comparative
inte ligence.
So little exists on comparative ontogeny in
an evolutionary perspective that the systematic observations of nonhuman primate development are valuable in themselves. For
this reason, and not for its insights into the
evolution of intelligence or language, I recommend “Language” and Intelligence in
Monkeys and Apes to researchers interested
in comparative primate ontogeny.
With all the careful examination of assumptions about mental process and methodology, neither book is sufficiently critical
of its evolutionary assumptions. Cheney and
Seyfarth‘s careful observations offer ample
op ortunity to explore alternative units of
se ection (matrilines or troops for example)
and the adaptiveness of stratification for
group survival. They cite evidence contradictor to their assumption of selection on the
in ividual:
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Whitten (1983) found no relation between a female’s dominance rank and the survival of her infants, whereas in our stud neither infant survival
nor life span was greater $r high-ranking females.
Similarly, among males there was not sz nzfzcant
correlation between dominance rank and fequency
of copulation. (Cheney and Seyfarth, 1990:34, emphasis added)
468
BOOK REVIEWS
However, they ignore the potential significance of their own data:
the relation between dominance rank and reproductive success in nonprimates or in primate species
other than vervets provide more consistent evidence that high status is correlated with high reproductive success. (Ibid.)
Goodall found dominant males who copulated most often with estrus females had
lower rates of conception than subordinate
males who (free from worries of being supplanted) left the group for short consort matings (Goodall, 1986). Simple relations between rank and re roductive success are
complicated by the e fects of an animal’s age,
len h of tenure in the group, friendships
an mate preferences, and expenditures in
parental care, all of which affect fertility or
access to mates.
Why do such findings fail to stimulate an
examination of alternatives to individual reroductive success as the mechanism of seLction and status striving as the focus of
that selection? Is it not possible that, because
of the dependence of individual reproductive
success on the condition of the group as a
whole, hierarchical social orderin levels the
expected differential between hig - and lowstatus individuals (Plotkin, 1988)?
Cheney and Seyfarth acknowledge the
challenge posed by the disparities between
field and laboratory performances to the evolutionar proposition that cognitive skills,
such as t e ability t o use signs as representations of objects and relations and to make
jud ents based on analogical reasoning,
euo ue to serve some adaptive function in the
animals’ natural habitat. Evolutionar presumptions do not seem to stimulate t e exploration of some stochastic process, i.e., the
ossibility su gested by Antinucci (P&G 5),
for example, t at changes in developmental
timing (perhaps brought about by alterations in skeletal maturatiodpatterns of locomotion) affect the nervous system independently of any demands placed on one or
another aspect of cognitive performance.
In addressing similar concerns Pepperberg (P&G 18) concludes:
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At present we can only speculate that the cognitive
capacities that we see in the laboratory were indeed first developed under some set of evolutionary
pressures. We are furthermore assuming that these
capacities are the same as those used in the wild
(i.e., that capacities that are adaptive in one instance can be applied in divergent situations). Such
an assumption, although not without support.. . ,
has been challenged.. , . In many cases, natural
correlates have yet to be found for the advanced capcities exhibited in the laboratory. (Pepperberg,
&G p. 497)
Selection on an adaptive content domain
ma not account for the emergence of analogica reasoning or language, which is, among
other things, a system of reference to abstract relations.
How Monkeys See the World is a milestone
in the analysis of monkey behavior and its
implications for understanding the function
of primate intelligence. The ‘Zanguage”and
Intelligence of Monke s and A es extends a
neo-piagetian metho ology an theory of human ontogeny to nonhuman priamtes but
presents a flawed explanation of phylo enetic differences in adult primate inte ligence. To explain the emergence of human
intelligence and langua e, a more sophisticated understanding o evolutionary processes needs to be applied to our increasingly
sophisticated concept of mind.
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SONIA
RAGIR
SociologylAnthropology
The Cit University of New York
The Coie e of Staten Island
Staten Is and, New York
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LITERATURE CITED
GoodallJ (1986)The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of
Behavior. Cambridge: Harvard.
Marcel AJ, and Bisiach E (1988)Consciousness in Contemporary Science. Oxford: Clarendon.
Plotkin HC (1989) Intelligence and evolutionary epistemology. Human Evol. 3(6):437448.
Premack D (1984) Upgrading a mind. In TG Bever, JM
Carroll, and LA Miller (eds.): Talking Minds: The
Study of Language in the Cognitive Sciences. Cambridge: MIT, pp. 181-208.
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