In partnership with the Royal Society of Literature
Nicky Clayton, Doris Lessing, Will Self, Andrew Whiten
Chair: Maggie Gee
Are our human abilities and instincts so very different from those of other animals? Nicky Clayton is Professor of Comparative Cognition at the University of Cambridge, and specialises in the interface between animal behaviour, experimental psychology and neuroscience, working mainly with members of the crow family (corvids). Doris Lessing, widely regarded as one of the most important post-war writers in England, has been fascinated with the behaviour of animals, and particularly of cats, since her childhood on an African farm. Will Self shares this fascination, and in his novel Great Apes explores what happens to artist Simon Dykes when he wakes to find that his girlfriend has turned into a chimpanzee. Andrew Whiten, Professor of Evolutionary and Developmental Psychology at the University of St Andrews, studies behaviour and cognition in chimpanzees and other non-human primates, as well as mainstream and autistic children.
How have human attitudes to animals changed over recent decades? Our panel of experts will discuss what, if anything, really distinguishes human beings from their fellow creatures.