The Mental Life of Monkeys and Apes eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 160 pages of information about The Mental Life of Monkeys and Apes.



Two strong interests come to expression in this report:  the one in the study of the adaptive or ideational behavior of the monkeys and the apes; and the other in adequate and permanent provision for the thorough study of all aspects of the lives of these animals.  The values of these interests and of the tasks which they have led me to undertake are so widely recognized by biologists that I need not pause to justify or define them.  I shall, instead, attempt to make a contribution of fact on the score of each interest.

While recognizing that the task of prospecting for an anthropoid or primate station may in its outcome prove incomparably more important for the biological and sociological sciences and for human welfare than my experimental study of ideational behavior, I give the latter first place in this report, reserving for the concluding section an account of the situation regarding our knowledge of the monkeys, apes, and other primates, and a description of a plan and program for the thorough-going and long continued study of these organisms in a permanent station or research institute.

In 1915, a long desired opportunity came to me to devote myself undividedly to tasks which I have designated above as “prospecting” for an anthropoid station and experimenting with monkeys and apes.  First of all, the interruption of my academic duties by sabbatical leave gave me free time.  But in addition to this freedom for research, I needed animals and equipment.  These, too, happily, were most satisfactorily provided, as I shall now describe.

When in 1913, while already myself engaged in seeking the establishment of an anthropoid station, I heard of the founding of such an institution at Orotava, Tenerife, the Canary Islands, I immediately made inquiries of the founder of the station, Doctor Max Rothmann of Berlin, concerning his plans (Rothmann, 1912).[1] As a result of our correspondence, I was invited to visit and make use of the facilities of the Orotava station and to consider with its founder the possibility of cooeperative work instead of the establishing of an American station.  This invitation I gratefully accepted with the expectation of spending the greater part of the year 1915 on the island of Tenerife.  But the outbreak of the war rendered my plan impracticable, while at the same time destroying all reasonable ground for hope of profitable cooeperation with the Germans in the study of the anthropoids.  In August, 1915, Doctor Rothmann died.  Presumably, the station still exists at Orotava in the interests of certain psychological and physiological research.  So far as I know, there are as yet no published reports of studies made at this station.  It seems from every point of view desirable that American psychologists should, without regard to this initial attempt of the Germans to provide for anthropoid research, further the establishment of a well equipped American station for the study not only of the anthropoid apes but of all of the lower primates.

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The Mental Life of Monkeys and Apes from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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