, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 349–356 | Cite as

Methodologies of Curiosity: Epistemology, Practice, and the Question of Animal Minds

Review of: Frans de Waal. Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? 2016. W. W. Norton & Company: New York. 340 p.
  • Yogi Hale HendlinEmail author

Umwelt theory has finally come of age. The paradigm-breaking power of Jakob von Uexküll’s technical term, after decades of inquiry by scholars such as Merleau-Ponty (1962) and Kauffman (1993) has become part of the vernacular of animal studies, psychology, sociology, and other scientific domains (Buchanan 2008; Lahti 2015; Stevens et al. 2018). The newfound fame of the Umwelt frame, however, is as much a boon to the field of biosemiotics as it is a burden, due to the usual serial misinterpretation and cooptation that occurs in popularizing a concept.

One prominent scholar, however, deeply wedded to the original lineage of meaning Umwelt theory offers, is the renowned ethologist and primatologist Frans de Waal, who has based his life work on understanding its core meaning through experimentation. From the first to the last page of de Waal’s latest overview of animal cognition, he anchors his interpretations in classical as well as cognitive ethology—steeped in the contributions of von...



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus School of PhilosophyErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamNetherlands
  2. 2.Core Faculty, Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity InitiativeErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamNetherlands
  3. 3.Environmental Health InitiativeUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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