Primate Cognition: Philosophical, Linguistic, and Historical Perspectives
Both human and nonhuman primates maneuver in complex social environments and use elaborate communicative means to regulate their social relationships. This life in a complex social setting is believed to have driven primate brain evolution and intelligence. Within the Leibniz Science Campus on Primate Cognition (LSC), scholars from psychology, behavioral biology and neuroscience have teamed up to contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of intelligence, taking an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. Three core questions shall be addressed: the integration of information from multiple sources in social decision-making, the role of social cognition in primate communication, and the question what makes social cognition special compared to non-social cognition.
The questions posed and the answers collected by this kind of research will have strong repercussions for the way we conceive the differences between human and nonhuman primates, and ultimately, what it means to be human. Moreover, the way we judge the available evidence is strongly influenced by the wider scientific discourse. In the past years, for instance, we have seen a surge of interest in Animal Studies in the humanities (“animal turn”), which will feed back on the discourse in the natural sciences. In addition, there is still considerable debate to which degree primate communication offers insights into the origin of language. Finally, many of the themes presently addressed in the cognitive sciences effectively constitute old philosophical questions, with important implications for ethical considerations in primate research.
We now want to take the opportunity and bring together researchers from the humanities and the natural sciences in the newly established LSC. Together with the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, we invite applications of exceptionally open-minded and talented young researchers with a strong interest in interdisciplinary research for a temporary research group for the period of October 2015 to July 2017. Applicants may have diverse backgrounds such as philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, history of science, media studies or related fields. Fellows will receive the opportunity to investigate their own research questions in collaboration with colleagues from the natural sciences and the humanities. Fellows will be affiliated with the Lichtenberg-Kolleg and the LSC, have access to the LSC’s facilities and services and are expected to support our outreach activities by organizing events for a broader audience.