24 July 2010

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall has been studying chimpanzees for fifty years now, and The Wall Street Journal this weekend has published an extensive essay in which she reflects on this golden anniversary of her life's work.

As is much of her work, this essay is a rebuke to human chauvanism. Goodall atributes to the chimps such a "human" trait as a sense of wonder, or what one might call in recognition of the writings of Edmund Burke, a sense of the sublime.

After writing of the elaborate rituals of chimpanzees in the magnificent presence of the waterfall in Kakombe Valley, "swaying thythmically from foot to foot, hurling huge rocks, then sitting and watching the water as it falls," she says, "Surely these displays are triggered by a sense of wonder."

Here's the complete essay.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.