Michael Tomasello is Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig since 1998. He is one of the very few people to have done systematic research on the cognitive capacities of both nonhuman primates and human children. He has worked to identify the unique cognitive and cultural processes that distinguish humans from their nearest primate relatives, the great apes. He studies the social cognition of great apes at the Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Center in Leipzig. In his developmental research he has focused on how human children become cooperating members of cultural groups, focusing in recent years on uniquely human skills and motivations: joint intentions, joint attention, collaboration and social norms. His books (translated into 11 languages) include: First Verbs (1992); Primate Cognition (1997); The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (1999); Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition (2003); Origins of Human Communication (2008), and Why We Cooperate (2009).
The Griph-lecture is the annual lecture of the Groningen Institute of Philosophy. This lecture is organized by the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Groningen, in cooperation with Studium Generale Groningen.