Evolution of Emotions and Empathy in the Primates, Frans B. M. de Waal

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the Department of Philosophy and the Neuroscience Institute will host a Neurophilosophy Forum talk by Prof. Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor of Psychology at Emory University: Evolution of Empathy and Emotions in the Primates (abstract below).


Time: Friday, Sept. 10, 3 – 5 PM.

Place: 25 Park Place, Atlanta, GA; Second Floor Presentation Space


For in-person attendees, registration is required. Limited seats are available, so register now if you plan to come in person.

Registration link: https://forms.gle/iekdfuBQLq2ds2VW9


**For your safety and ours, masks are strongly encouraged for in-person attendees.**


For those who prefer to attend virtually or do not register in time for in-person: https://bit.ly/3mOhHVb 

Passcode: 292313


Frans B. M. de Waal


Emory University, Atlanta, USA and Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Emotions suffuse much of the language employed by students of animal behavior -- from "social bonding" to "alarm calls" -- yet are still regularly avoided as an explicit topic in scientific discourse. Given the increasing interest of human psychology in emotions, and the neuroscience on animal emotions such as fear and attachment, the taboo that has hampered animal research in this area is outdated. It is crucial to separate emotions from feelings, which are subjective experiences that accompany the emotions. Whereas science has no access to animal feelings, animal emotions are as observable and measurable (face, voice, physiology, neural activity) as human emotions. They are mental and bodily states that potentiate behavior appropriate to most social situations. I will discuss early ideas about animal emotions and draw upon research on empathy and the perception of emotions in primates to make the point that the study of animal emotions is a necessary complement to the study of behavior. Emotions are best viewed as the organizers of adaptive responses to environmental stimuli.


Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal is a Dutch/American biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982), compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. His scientific work has been published in hundreds of technical articles in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His popular books - translated into 20+ languages - have made him one of the world's most visible primatologists. His latest books are Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? (Norton, 2016) and Mama’s Last Hug (Norton, 2019). De Waal is C. H. Candler Professor Emeritus at Emory University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Utrecht University. He has been elected to the (US) National Academy of Sciences as well as the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2007, Time declared him one of The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People Today.

Friday, September 10, 2021 at 3:00pm to 5:00pm

25 Park Place Building(SunTrust Tower), 223- CAS Lecture Hall
25 Park Place, Atlanta, GA

Event Type



Atlanta Campus

Colleges and Schools

College of Arts and Sciences


Students, Faculty/Staff, Alumni, Public, Emeriti, Perimeter College Retirees

Neuroscience, Philosophy
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