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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

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Other-mind-blowing

Excellent & well-flowing history of intelligence in the ocean. I had no idea octopuses and their cephalopod cousins had such depth. Highly recommended. 🐙

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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extraordinary & relatable creatures

"Octopuses are not monogamous, have sporadic sex lives and do not appear to be particularly social." That description had me hooked and it just went uphill from there rly.

The narration is great, the writing is accessible, stylish and funny and the subject fascinating. One of my new fav audiobooks.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Sentience and wonder

This is a wonderful book about the often underestimated genius of the seas that is the octopus. Complex, beautiful, private and highly intelligent creatures with boneless bodies which move more gracefully through the sea than any other marine creature, the octopus is here celebrated as the marvel it truly is in aesthetic as well as scientific terms. An absolute joy to read. The kind of book that should make a difference to this creature's survival and, with luck, an end to their being hunted for food.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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It will make you a better reader and thinker

Aside from providing further illumination on the subject on consciousness and the evolutionary foundations that all life shares, this wonderful book, with the excellent narration provided by Peter Noble, will make you a better reader in the future, more broad and incisive thinker, and most of all, appreciative of the branches of evolution that selected us to have the ability to reflect on what links us all to one-another. The reading is pitch perfect in tone, pauses and pacing. Peter Godfrey-Smith's erudition, clarity and story-telling gifts found a perfect auditory distribution vehicle through Peter Noble....Jesus, they have me sounding like them now:) In all sincerity, treat your mind and 'that thing' in your mind that wants to 'know more'. It is rare when knowledge is communicated as experientially as it does intellectually. Thank you to Godfrey-Smith and Noble for seven hours that will provide me with a life's worth of investigation and reflection. I hope these two work together more often.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Inspiring

Even though some parts of the book require accute focus, both the narrative and the narrator, provide a very positive experience.
The last two chapters are deeply interesting and inspiring.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating!

It doesn't matter if you're interested in octopuses, neuroscience, evolution, philosophy or all of these, this book is a beautiful and stimulating story about "the other minds" and about evolution of life, especially marine life. It WILL make you look differently on octopuses and cephalopods. They're not only surprisingly intelligent and friendly, we also have more in common than we usually think. Enjoy!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enchantment

The anecdotes about the various cephalopods that the author encounters make the drier bits worth trudging through. You can tell I am no scientist but this book almost made me wish I had been. Are there likely to be studies of the larger, longer lived, deep cold water octopuses? These glorious short lived warm water species are so endearing but what about the older guys?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I could listen to this all day

Both the author and the narrator are on top form. There are a lot of ideas, information and concepts packed into the book in such an readable way. The narrator's delivery of the material just adss another layer of polish. Just want to go back and listen to the whole thing again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Mind Opening....

I am delighted by the narration by Peter Noble and that was my primary reason for listening - to his voice. Then l was captivated by the unfolding story of the mind or rather the intelligence of Octapus and cuttlefish. I learnt such a lot. If you are interested in the amazingness of evolution then this is a compulsive listen. It is rather technical but in an easy to absorb flow.

1 of 1 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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful