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Folk Physics for Apes
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Folk Physics for Apes: The Chimpanzee's theory of how the world works

Daniel Povinelli


From an early age, humans know a surprising amount about basic physical principles, such as gravity, force, mass, and shape. We can see this in the way that young children play and manipulate objects around them. The same behavior has long been observed in primates — chimpanzees have been shown to possess a remarkable ability to make and use simple tools. But what does this tell us about their inner mental state — do they therefore share the same understanding to that of a young child? Do they understand the simple, underlying physical principles involved? Though some people would say that the ... More

Keywords: behavior, primates, chimpanzees, inner mental state, physical principles, gravity, force, shape, young children, simple tools

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2003 Print ISBN-13: 9780198572190
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198572190.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Daniel Povinelli, author
Co-Director, Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Louisiana at Lafayette