Intelligence in Ape and Man

Intelligence in Ape and Man

Intelligence in Ape and Man

Intelligence in Ape and Man

Excerpt

Twenty years ago I received a NIMH postdoctoral fellowship to teach visual language to a chimpanzee--but I was diverted from doing so for over a decade. In 1954 I had gone to Yerkes Laboratories in Orange Park, Florida, with my wife and son, on my first job, to learn about chimpanzees. After a few months there I discussed the language project with Henry Nissen, who was acting director during Karl Lashley's illness, and persuaded him to lend me an animal. Together we settled on Sally, an 18 month old female, sufficiently unfavored to be an ideal candidate for loan. Although Professor Nissen was loathe to see any chimpanzee depart, he not only consented but also wrote Paul Meehl, then chairman at Minnesota, underscoring the difference between Sally and King Kong. Images had begun to form at Minnesota, the intended site of the fellowship, of a brute swaggering mutinously through the hall, even perhaps commandeering the faculty washroom. Nissen put these images to rest and the fellowship application was once again untroubled.

However, the fellowship was awarded late and by the time it was, Sally was engaged in another project. Nissen was not able to release her or provide a substitute. It became necessary to buy a chimpanzee, although hardly possible to do so with the $500.00 research budget of the fellowship. I was tempted by an advertisement for a one-armed, subadult male on sale for $450.00, but decided that a one-armed ape was not a propitious beginning for a language to be based on manipulation. Advised by Klüver's (1937) monograph, I bought Cebus monkeys instead--friendly, manipulative, a poor man's chimpanzee. However, with them I ended up studying not language but reinforcement: how a more probable lever press would reinforce a less probable one.

Part of the background for the chimpanzee project and for this book came from a seminar on Philosophy of Psychology, known as the Meegel--Feegel, in honor of its redoubtable teachers, Herbert Feigl and Paul Meehl. Taught during a . . .

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