There is a claim by a German philosopher, named Max Scheler.

Ein Affe, dem man eine Banane halb geschält in die Hand gibt, flieht vor ihr, während er sie ganz geschält frißt, ungeschält aber selber schält und dann frißt.

Translation by me:

A monkey/ape who is given a half peeled banana into his hand flees from it, whereas he eats it if it is fully peeled, or peels and eats it if it is not peeled.

Sometimes we use "Affe" interchangeably for monkey or ape, so I am not sure, what Scheler meant exactly. The text can be found here. I think the book is: Max Scheler (1928), Die Stellung Des Menschen Im Kosmos

I'm skeptical because of the first answer to this question: Was the experiment with five monkeys, a ladder, a banana and a water spray conducted?, where an anthropology professor is cited:

If you have bananas on a pole, you'll lose your bananas.

Source: http://m.fastcompany.com/32476/please-dont-feed-consultants

So do monkeys/apes flee from half peeled bananas?

  • 2
    Does the author give any specific hint of why would that be? Anyway apparently they just eat it youtube.com/watch?v=owoeO0hh9P8 (I am always amazed how many dumb videos are on YouTube...)
    – nico
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 20:38
  • @nico The author says that the banana is not recognized as the same thing. He also gives another example of a spider. A fly in the net is felt by the spider through the strings. The spider immediately eats the fly. But if one puts the fly into the field of vision of the spider, it flees from it. The author concludes that animals are not capable of recognizing things on a more abstract level. The banana is not the same thing as the half peeled banana. I will watch your video after work. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 7:56
  • I could imagine there might be some species where lower-socially-ranking individuals might fear a half-peeled banana for self preservation, if they weren't hungry (if a banana is half peeled, it is likely some other individual in the group had started eating it, who would likely attack them for stealing it). That doesn't really support the philosopher's point though... Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 14:42
  • Hans Volkelt (who did an experiment with spiders that Scherer mentions and attributes in an adjoining sentence) sometimes talked about the experiments with apes ("Affen") that were done on Teneriffa by Wolfgang Köhler, so maybe this has it's origins there. Couldn't find it online, though: „Intelligenzstudien bei den Teneriffa‐Affen“, 1921 ‐Artikel „Vom Seelenleben der Tiere“, 1921
    – bukwyrm
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 22:04


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