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Summary

A philosopher dons a wet suit and journeys into the depths of consciousness.

Peter Godfrey-Smith is a leading philosopher of science. He is also a scuba diver whose underwater videos of warring octopuses have attracted wide notice. In this audiobook he brings his parallel careers together to tell a bold new story of how nature became aware of itself.

Mammals and birds are widely seen as the smartest creatures on earth. But one other branch of the tree of life has also sprouted surprising intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. New research shows that these marvellous creatures display remarkable gifts.

What does it mean that intelligence on Earth has evolved not once but twice? And that the mind of the octopus is nonetheless so different from our own? Combining science and philosophy with firsthand accounts of his cephalopod encounters, Godfrey-Smith shows how primitive organisms bobbing in the ocean began sending signals to each other and how these early forms of communication gave rise to the advanced nervous systems that permit cephalopods to change colours and human beings to speak.

By tracing the problem of consciousness back to its roots and comparing the human brain to its most alien and perhaps most remarkable animal relative, Godfrey-Smith's Other Minds sheds new light on one of our most abiding mysteries.

©2017 Peter Godfrey-Smith (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

stunning look at the evolution of thinking...

loved every word of it. great subject lovingly narrated. For any one interested in thought, neuroscience and potentilly for bionics/robotics some great ideas to traverse andcombine. Why? all great structures and strategies are first invented in nature - if it's not broken..? So here is the fundemental patterning of thought through evolution. A demonstration of thought patterning in animals up to and including human minds. Interested to know where and who runs with these ideas and grows them forward in diffrent ways, especially in robotics...thanks to both Peters for bringing this to life

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Mind blowing and very very enjoyable

Great account of evolution, consciousness and aging Great account of evolution, consciousness and agony Great account of evolution, consciousness and aging

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ms
  • 12-03-18

Fascinating insights

It's given me a new fascination with the minds of other species & a desire to scuba dive. Also raised my awareness of how we need to take better care of our planet.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A gr8 listen!

Really interesting book, not only on cephlopods but on the evolution of intelligence and sentience in general which I find facinating. Well worth a listen.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Enfield, United Kingdom
  • 12-11-17

great stuff

My affinity with these creatures is enhanced. I will never eat one again!
well written, well read, and I know more now than I did before.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

The alien intelligence, a reflection on awareness


This is a book that explores much more than animal intelligence, in a few questions it compromises many notions we assume for granted in our everyday life, a book that explores not just biology but philosophy linguistics, neuroscience and evolution, opening doors and possibilities, that question our very perceptions and awareness of the natural world it also introduces us to alien minds that are physically and environmentally so distinct to us we should have very little in common un jet we share and can share a sense of curiosity playfulness and personality without anthropomorphizing them while recognizing that we can only see the reflection of the light we can persive.

A fascinating book that will clarify many ideas and presents many questions, a swim in a world that is the beginning of all life and will rekindle the sense of wonder we should never misplace.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Excellent and enlightening read

Great insights into evolution in general and minds in particular. Excellently narrated. Fascinating read. I highly recommend it.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Cephalopds and consciousness

I loved this book. The author has spent a lot of time observing octopus and cuttlefish and has fascinating insights into their behaviour and psychology. Did you know that cuttlefish producing amazing displays of colour on their bodies but are colour blind and only see in black and white?
This isn’t just a natural history book. Cephalopods are like us in some ways but totally alien in others. The contrasts are used to illustrate some fascinating aspects of evolutionary theory and how self awareness and consciousness developed.
One thing I liked especially was the author’s obvious empathy and regard for the animals he watches. Cephalopods are not cute, cuddly little creatures but he manages to give them character and individuality without anthropomorphising them.
If you’re interested in consciousness, you should definitely read this book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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An amazing book.

Wonderful insight provided by the author into what it would be like to be an octopus

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting and unique, biology + philosophy

Well researched and well argued, covering a lot of science, and well put together arguments, from someone with first hand experience with these animals.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Al
  • 27-03-17

A Cephalopod Love Story

Some quite interesting info in parts of the text. Generally too speculative and wishy washy to receive a higher score. A philosopher's work of science rather than a scientist's work of science. Comes across as someone playing at being Edward O. Wilson out of an emphatuation with octopi but lacking the expertise to pull it off.