This conversation was led by Brian Hare, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University. The only way to understand what it is to be human is to know what it is like to be not human. In this talk, we explored the minds of our closest relatives, bonobos and chimpanzees, and dogs — our closest friend. We looked at how these animals help us understand what makes us human, and how our minds came to be. We arrived at the idea that it was friendliness that powerfully shaped both the bodies and minds of bonobos and dogs during their evolution. We then considered if our own species evolved due to selection for friendliness. We argued that comparing our friendly nature to other animals solves the paradox of human kindness and cruelty and points to the need for cross-group friendships to encourage a friendlier future. These ideas are explored in Hare’s new book with Vanessa Woods, Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity.
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