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What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions?$
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Vinciane Despret

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780816692378

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816692378.001.0001

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For Tying Knots

For Tying Knots

Who invented language and mathematics?

(p.153) T For Tying Knots
What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions?

Vinciane Despret

, Brett Buchanan
University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explores animals’ capacity for mathematics, arithmetic, and recognizing numerical difference, whether through cognitive ability or gestalt sensing. In an analysis of a knot-tying ape, the author suggests that rather than a drive for play or utility, the act of generating forms constitutes the motivation for its behaviour. The author is critical about searching for the singular origin of language under disciplinary dispositives that condition where those origins are found.

Keywords:   arithmetic, mathematics, logic, language, primates, knot tying, origins

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