'A rewarding, thought-provoking journey' – Wall Street Journal
'Admirably clear and cogent… a fine introduction… deserves a wide audience' – Financial Times
'Beautifully written, well researched and thought provoking' – Jane Goodall
The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals
The definitive account of what we do and what we don’t know about the differences between animal and human minds.
It has been said that every psychologist must at some point fill in the following sentence: ‘The human being is the only animal that....’ Yet despite the many claims for human uniqueness, there is seemingly little consensus about what sets our minds apart from those of other animals.
In The Gap, Thomas Suddendorf puts the record straight by providing the first complete account of exactly what makes human minds different from any others, and how this difference arose. Drawing on two decades of research on apes, children and human evolution, he surveys all the main areas often cited as uniquely human (language, intelligence, morality, culture, ‘theory of mind’ and ‘mental time travel’); proposes that just two innovations account for why our minds appear so distinct in all these areas – our open-ended ability to imagine and reflect on different situations and our insatiable drive to link our minds together; and argues that this gap is becoming wider not just because we are becoming smarter but also because we are making ourselves appear more special by reducing the capacities of our closest living relatives – by causing their extinction.
Weaving together the latest findings in animal behaviour, child development, anthropology, psychology, physiology, genetics, neuroscience and more, The Gap is an original, provocative and authoritative book that will change the way we think about our place in nature. It is essential reading for anyone interested in what we really are, where we come from and where we are going – and our continuing relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom.