01 June 2007

"The city is not a concrete jungle. It's a human zoo." Spotlight on Desmond Morris U.K.

Desmond Morris U.K. is most famous for his work as a zoologist and ethologist; he is also a Surrealist painter. He first came to public attention in the 1950's as a presenter of the television programme Zoo Time. His studies focus on animal and human behaviour, explained from a zoological point of view. He's authored a bevvy of books (most notably The Naked Ape, The Human Zoo and People/BodyWatching) and hosted numerous television documentaries. His examination of humans from a bluntly zoological point of view has attracted much controversy. Morris invests much stock in the simple interpretation of body language and gestures and the comparison and similarities of those gestures betwixt animals and humans.

"We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."

Desmond's study of human behaviour via a zoological lens, in particular via natural evolutionary mechanisms, have been attacked as incomplete, incorrect, or overly simplistic. Some explanations have also been criticised for being male-centred or supporting a sexist view of sexual behaviour...............................

"I viewed my fellow man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape."

Some contend that his comments are often untestable, and as a result unscientific. Religious objectors to Darwinism reject on principle the idea humans are dominated by strictly animal instincts. Nevertheless, supporters defend him for starting, or at least bringing into mainstream discussion, the approach of applying principles of animal behaviourism to explaining human behaviour.

"We are, to put it mildly, in a mess, and there is a strong chance that we shall
have exterminated ourselves by the end of the century. Our only consolation will
have to be that, as a species, we have had an exciting term of office."

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