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50 Years of Language Experiments with Great Apes

Igor Hanzel

The book approaches the language experiments with great apes performed in the last 50 years from the point of view of logical semantics, speech act theory, and philosophy of the social sciences based on the linguistic turn in philosophy. The author reconstructs the experiments with the great apes Washoe, Chantek, Lana, Sherman, Austin, Kanzi, Sarah and Sheba who were taught various kinds of languages, including the language of mathematics. From the point of view of the philosophy of science these experiments are interpreted as being part of the social sciences. The book proposes new mathematical experiments that are based on modern semantical reconstruction of the language of mathematics. The author shows that modern scientific research into great apes has shifted from natural science to social science.

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This work owes very much to the discussions I had with Professor H.-P. Krüger at the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany in summer 2015. Special thanks go to D. Glavaničová, E. S. Savage-Rumbaugh, R. A. Gardner and S. T. Boysen for their helpful insights and patient advices.

I am grateful to the Springer publisher for the permission to reproduce a table from D. M. Rumbaugh’s article “A computer-controlled language training system for investigating the language skills of young apes” page 386, published in the journal Behavior Research Methods and Instrumentation, 1973, Volume 5, Issue 5.

John Wiley and Sons gave the permission to reproduce a figure from E. S. Savage-Rumbaugh’s article: “Can apes use symbols to represent their world?” pages 46–47, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1981, Volume 364.

The journal Science gave the permission to reproduce a figure from D. Premack’s article “Language in chimpanzee?” page 809, published in this journal, Volume 172, Issue 3985.

Cambridge University Press gave the permission to reproduce three figures from J. Dore’s article “Holophrases, speech acts and language universals,” pages 34–35, published in Journal of Child Language, 1975, Volume 2, Issue 1.←9 | 10→ ←10 | 11→

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