Frans de Waal is an eminent primatologist renowned not only for his many publications in scientific journals, but also for several widely read books, including Chimpanzee Politics and, more recently, The Bonobo and the Atheist. In the latter work, Professor de Waal explores how non-human primates, even in the absence of anything we might call “religion,” have a profound capacity for empathy and social cohesion in a way that may serve as a basis for morality in the case of humans. Speaking with John Dunne of Emory University, Professor de Waal reflects on these and other issues, such as the notion of “culture” among primates, in a way that raises intriguing questions about our notion of “religion.”
John Dunne is an Associate Professor of Religion at Emory University in the Department of Religion and the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University, where he co-founded the Collaborative for Contemplative Studies. He is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, a formal advisor to the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, and an academic advisor for the Ranjung Yeshe Institute.