Why Chimpanzees Don’t Hold Elections: The Power of Social Reality

Lisa Feldman Barrett: Abstraction, together with the rest of the Five Cs, empowers your large, complex brain to create and share social reality. All animals pay attention to physical things that allow them to survive and thrive. We humans add to the world by collectively imposing new functions on physical things, and we live by them. Each of the Five Cs is found in other animals to varying extents. Crows, for example, are creative problem-solvers who use twigs as tools. Elephants communicate in low rumbles that can travel for miles. Whales copy one another’s songs. Ants cooperate to find food and defend their nest. Bees use abstraction as they wiggle their bums to tell their hive-mates where to find nectar. In humans, however, the Five Cs intertwine and reinforce one another, which lets us take things to a whole other level.


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