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The scuba-diving philosopher who wrote Other Minds explores the origins of animal consciousness Dip below the ocean’s surface and you are soon confronted by forms of life that could not seem more foreign to our own: sea sponges, soft corals, and serpulid worms, whose rooted bodies, intricate geometry, and flower-like appendages are more reminiscent of plant life or even arc The scuba-diving philosopher who wrote Other Minds explores the origins of animal consciousness Dip below the ocean’s surface and you are soon confronted by forms of life that could not seem more foreign to our own: sea sponges, soft corals, and serpulid worms, whose rooted bodies, intricate geometry, and flower-like appendages are more reminiscent of plant life or even architecture than anything recognizably animal. Yet these creatures are our cousins. As fellow members of the animal kingdom—the Metazoa—they can teach us much about the evolutionary origins of not only our bodies, but also our minds. In his acclaimed 2016 book, Other Minds, the philosopher and scuba diver Peter Godfrey-Smith explored the mind of the octopus—the closest thing to an intelligent alien on Earth. In Metazoa, Godfrey-Smith expands his inquiry to animals at large, investigating the evolution of subjective experience with the assistance of far-flung species. As he delves into what it feels like to perceive and interact with the world as other life-forms do, Godfrey-Smith shows that the appearance of the animal body well over half a billion years ago was a profound innovation that set life upon a new path. In accessible, riveting prose, he charts the ways that subsequent evolutionary developments—eyes that track, for example, and bodies that move through and manipulate the environment—shaped the subjective lives of animals. Following the evolutionary paths of a glass sponge, soft coral, banded shrimp, octopus, and fish, then moving onto land and the world of insects, birds, and primates like ourselves, Metazoa gathers their stories together in a way that bridges the gap between mind and matter, addressing one of the most vexing philosophical problems: that of consciousness. Combining vivid animal encounters with philosophical reflections and the latest news from biology, Metazoa reveals that even in our high-tech, AI-driven times, there is no understanding our minds without understanding nerves, muscles, and active bodies. The story that results is as rich and vibrant as life itself.


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The scuba-diving philosopher who wrote Other Minds explores the origins of animal consciousness Dip below the ocean’s surface and you are soon confronted by forms of life that could not seem more foreign to our own: sea sponges, soft corals, and serpulid worms, whose rooted bodies, intricate geometry, and flower-like appendages are more reminiscent of plant life or even arc The scuba-diving philosopher who wrote Other Minds explores the origins of animal consciousness Dip below the ocean’s surface and you are soon confronted by forms of life that could not seem more foreign to our own: sea sponges, soft corals, and serpulid worms, whose rooted bodies, intricate geometry, and flower-like appendages are more reminiscent of plant life or even architecture than anything recognizably animal. Yet these creatures are our cousins. As fellow members of the animal kingdom—the Metazoa—they can teach us much about the evolutionary origins of not only our bodies, but also our minds. In his acclaimed 2016 book, Other Minds, the philosopher and scuba diver Peter Godfrey-Smith explored the mind of the octopus—the closest thing to an intelligent alien on Earth. In Metazoa, Godfrey-Smith expands his inquiry to animals at large, investigating the evolution of subjective experience with the assistance of far-flung species. As he delves into what it feels like to perceive and interact with the world as other life-forms do, Godfrey-Smith shows that the appearance of the animal body well over half a billion years ago was a profound innovation that set life upon a new path. In accessible, riveting prose, he charts the ways that subsequent evolutionary developments—eyes that track, for example, and bodies that move through and manipulate the environment—shaped the subjective lives of animals. Following the evolutionary paths of a glass sponge, soft coral, banded shrimp, octopus, and fish, then moving onto land and the world of insects, birds, and primates like ourselves, Metazoa gathers their stories together in a way that bridges the gap between mind and matter, addressing one of the most vexing philosophical problems: that of consciousness. Combining vivid animal encounters with philosophical reflections and the latest news from biology, Metazoa reveals that even in our high-tech, AI-driven times, there is no understanding our minds without understanding nerves, muscles, and active bodies. The story that results is as rich and vibrant as life itself.

30 review for Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra-X Off having adventures

    Small update I was reading other reviews, and those who don't like philosophy mixed in with their science don't like it so much. But thinking about consciousness - it's one of those things we know for 100% certain exists but no one knows where or can define exactly what it is and which creature has it and which definitely don't. So how can you leave out philosophy? ____________________ I wish I hadn't read this book. The book is mind-expanding, paradigm-shifting as much from the philosophy as the Small update I was reading other reviews, and those who don't like philosophy mixed in with their science don't like it so much. But thinking about consciousness - it's one of those things we know for 100% certain exists but no one knows where or can define exactly what it is and which creature has it and which definitely don't. So how can you leave out philosophy? ____________________ I wish I hadn't read this book. The book is mind-expanding, paradigm-shifting as much from the philosophy as the scientific observations. It's an expanded conventional view of evolution but adds in philosophy and somehow poetry, there is a poetry in the author's descriptions of the animals, mostly marine ones, he interacts with. It was startling to read of him stroking a cleaner shrimp and it turning round and looking at him. Then later in the book, the test that proves the animal has selfhood, a mark on the face, a mirror, and the shrimp touched the mark on it's face from seeing its reflection. It's a hard thought, what does a shrimp think of itself and of the world it knows? It must think, there is no instinct that could account for its mirror action. This book is not just science, it's a very beautiful book. I wish I hadn't read it yet, I wish I was going to just start it for the first time again. The book explores consciousness, selfhood, and when decision-making at the basic, instinctive, chemical level such as in very simple animals with few cells, when it becomes 'mind', where the mind is, how many minds could we have - people with split brains (from operations to help control epilepsy), seem sometimes to have two minds. There was much to think on and now I'm reading Tales from the Ant World, I'm thinking on octopuses both in this book and the author's Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness and thinking how octopuses have in a completely different evolutionary branch developed eyes and the ability to manipulate objects with curiousity like people, not like other molluscs and fish and how ants are a parallel world to people, and wondering about consciousness, mind and especially with ants, selfhood. An amazing 10 star read for me. __________ Everything necessary to produce mammals, primates and us, had evolved in the sea. A flexible body, a capacity for manipulation and a centralised brain. But no one sea creature evolved all of these together. "This combination arose independently in two big branches, in early dinosaurs and mammals. It was transformed again in the dinosaurs who survived - birds - and came to a particular fruition in primates, like us." Is that beautiful writing? Science and writing at their best. I love this book. I don't want it to end so I am rationing it! ___________________ You know the mirror test? Where the researcher puts a blob of something on the face of an animal and they look in the mirror and if they see it they touch it on their own face? Very few mammals and birds pass this - toddlers only 'get it' around 20 months, However, cleaner shrimps pass the test! They have superb vision, more really than anything we can imagine, but it is consciousness that tells you that it is 'you' that is in the mirror and not another shrimp, baby or cat. (view spoiler)[Cats, with their obvious feelings of superiority and disdain for human emotions when they feel like it, are very hard test subjects. They fail the attachment test too - where a child or puppy runs to the mother who has returned to a room where there is only a stranger now - but I think that's because cats expect the mother to run to them. (hide spoiler)] This book is brilliant and mind expanding, although I struggled quite a lot with the physics of electrical impulses in single-celled organisms. Truthfully, I struggled with all the physics. However, to be able to write about evolution from an organic and philosophical way as well as scientific, made the struggle worth while. I have learned something new that has changed my perception of the world. We tend to think of evolution as a tree and things like cockroaches and lizards as lower down. No, says the author, we are all on the same plane, we are all at the very top level of our own development.

  2. 4 out of 5

    D

    A bit superficial and too long. I learned some interesting concepts related to consciousness: experience, subjectivity, agency, sentient etc. And how these applied to various animal species. But no detail, e.g. a more detailed explanation of the role of genetics in evolution. There certainly were many entertaining descriptions of amazing types of animals. But, again, rather superficial. In the end I discovered that the author is a philosopher, that may explain his focus. My mistake.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Best review of this one I've seen yet, by an actual biologist, who's been a pretty reliable reviewer for me: https://inquisitivebiologist.com/2020... Excerpt: "Compared to Other Minds, Metazoa dives deeper into neurological and philosophical topics: qualia, pain, emotions, types of memory, and others. It is, altogether, a more challenging book, though in a stimulating way. I am not sure it will have the same wide appeal as Other Minds, but for those readers interested in joining him on his quest t Best review of this one I've seen yet, by an actual biologist, who's been a pretty reliable reviewer for me: https://inquisitivebiologist.com/2020... Excerpt: "Compared to Other Minds, Metazoa dives deeper into neurological and philosophical topics: qualia, pain, emotions, types of memory, and others. It is, altogether, a more challenging book, though in a stimulating way. I am not sure it will have the same wide appeal as Other Minds, but for those readers interested in joining him on his quest to understand the evolution of mind, consciousness, and subjective experience, Godfrey-Smith delivers in spades." Kicked it up the TBR a bit. I'll take a look (probably) when the library gets a copy. Here's an excerpt from the book, with photos and a short video from "Octopolis": https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles... WSJ review: https://www.wsj.com/articles/metazoa-... (Paywalled. As always, I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers.) I was pretty enthused on reading this review, until I recalled that I was lukewarm on his octopus book, finding it too heavy on philosophy. Maybe this one has more biology and less philosophy? Um. The author is a professional philosopher -- & I'm generally kinds allergic to philosophic maunderings.🙀 I might take a look when the library gets a copy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carl Safina

    One of my newly favorite authors and thinkers returns again to consider what consciousness is and what creates the ability of an entity to experience sensations. We know that much of our brain and body does things "in the dark," directing and carrying out high and complex functions without our being aware of them and with no decision-making ability. We also know that part of our brain and the brains of many other species functions as what we can call a "mind," capable of creating experienced sen One of my newly favorite authors and thinkers returns again to consider what consciousness is and what creates the ability of an entity to experience sensations. We know that much of our brain and body does things "in the dark," directing and carrying out high and complex functions without our being aware of them and with no decision-making ability. We also know that part of our brain and the brains of many other species functions as what we can call a "mind," capable of creating experienced sensations through input from sense organs, capable of imagining, of remembering, of deciding. Here in Metazoa we are talking about how this happens. So there is much illuminating science. But no one is quite sure how it happens, and the competing and conflicting ideas--along with the author's encounters with undersea animals and the abundant evidence of their conscious perception and sentience--makes this book very, very interesting. Some sections verged a bit on the academic (I say this as an academician, as is the author). But so what. Godfrey-Smith takes us for a ride on the frontier of knowledge and informed speculation. Very worth the time and the reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan Graser

    I was pleasantly surprised by this volume from philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith in that it brought some welcome clarity to the issue of consciousness and the origin of what we know to be the mind in the natural world. Oftentimes - and I realize how general a remark this is - philosophers discussing something that is mainly the province of scientists turns the discussion into a linguistic and syntactical rat's maze with no end and no conclusions, even if they manage to agree on terminology (they n I was pleasantly surprised by this volume from philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith in that it brought some welcome clarity to the issue of consciousness and the origin of what we know to be the mind in the natural world. Oftentimes - and I realize how general a remark this is - philosophers discussing something that is mainly the province of scientists turns the discussion into a linguistic and syntactical rat's maze with no end and no conclusions, even if they manage to agree on terminology (they never do). A lot of people approach books in this area from philosophers with trepidation however I have to say as someone with a very biologically centered materialist view on this, you have nothing to fear from this volume. Here, proceeding from a very materialistic perspective on the mind, he examines how varying degrees of sensation, response, and adaptation have transformed the nervous systems, and as a result, the ability to call something a mind from some of our most distant ancestors. A particularly interesting focus for me was on nociception in creatures we don't credit with having a sense of pain. That we begin with some of the most basic sea creatures - mollusks, shrimp, starfish - is evidence of how comprehensive a look he is taking at the notion of having a mind and being conscious. We are then treated to a developmental history of these features both from fossil and naturalistic evidence and also from his own personal experiences observing these creatures in the waters around Australia. I'm not totally sure I agree with his final conclusions, embracing the "walled off garden" notion from Wittgenstein (a remark that this previous philosopher meant as a pejorative), however I have to say I haven't yet read a book that dealt with a subject area so fraught with tedious and tangential terminological issues that read with such clarity and openness of opinion. It is certainly the case that humans have been very solipsistic in their view of what could constitute a mind among our distant cousins and ancestors, and so far, Peter Godrey-Smith is the best guide to take you through this development while also framing the discussion - philosophically speaking - with cogency and clarity.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Janne Sinkkonen

    (Listened, not read, which may affect my impressions.) I have read both "Philosophy of Biology" and "Other Minds" from the author, and like his style, which is non-combative, often searching for a middle way or a synthesis. This book is a bit like Other Minds in that it mixes (often) tranquil diving scenes with more conceptual science and philosophy, in this case evolutionary history of animals, especially their movement, senses and associated implications to cognitive organisation. A carrying th (Listened, not read, which may affect my impressions.) I have read both "Philosophy of Biology" and "Other Minds" from the author, and like his style, which is non-combative, often searching for a middle way or a synthesis. This book is a bit like Other Minds in that it mixes (often) tranquil diving scenes with more conceptual science and philosophy, in this case evolutionary history of animals, especially their movement, senses and associated implications to cognitive organisation. A carrying theme, although mostly discussed at the beginning and at the end, is philosophy of mind. I think the discussion of animal evolution and animal minds was excellent, and there is not much to disagree. On philosophy of mind, he describes himself as a materialist, material monist, and gradualist. This is all ok, for me personally and as a good background for most of the more concrete issues discussed. What bothers me a little bit, but just a little because it is a kind of side track in this book, is the treatment of the hard problem (of consciousness). Notably, he is critical of panpsychism, but says something like "this is what it feels to *be* the matter, instead of looking at it outside as an observer". But this is exactly what a panpsychist, Philip Goff says! I'd definitely classify the view presented in Metazoa as a panpsychist, the kind of variety which associates the potential of consciousness for all matter but requires nervous systems for it to appear in flavours familiar to ours, and some kind of organisation for it to appear in any flavour. He also briefly discusses strong AI, is critical of functionalism in this context and (it felt to me) he agrees with Searle's criticism (Chinese room etc.): consciousness depends on the substrate, not necessarily in a very wet sense but on the often overlooked intricate details of organisation at the very low level. (This opens questions about the relationship of computation and physical base in biological systems in general, not touched in the book.) But the book as its bulk matter discusses animal evolution and the appearance of selves on various branches of the evolutionary tree, also briefly plants. Mixed with descriptions of underwater events, narrated by the author, I find the book very enjoyable, occasionally almost meditative.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Travis Rebello

    Diving into the waters of the mind once more Metazoa is simply a stunning book. A mix of evocative underwater scenes, evolutionary storytelling, and philosophical exploration, it has got to be one of the most fascinating books I have read. Peter Godfrey-Smith builds here on his bestselling Other Minds, expanding both on the range of philosophical puzzles about the mind that are explored and the cast of creatures that join us in that exploration. He has a wonderful ability not only to capture the Diving into the waters of the mind once more Metazoa is simply a stunning book. A mix of evocative underwater scenes, evolutionary storytelling, and philosophical exploration, it has got to be one of the most fascinating books I have read. Peter Godfrey-Smith builds here on his bestselling Other Minds, expanding both on the range of philosophical puzzles about the mind that are explored and the cast of creatures that join us in that exploration. He has a wonderful ability not only to capture the visual scenery of the underwater world in words, but also to identify features of conscious experience that can otherwise be so elusive and to imagine his way into the inner lives of some of the most alien animals on our planet. The book is ultimately a defence of materialism about the mind, but one that doesn’t shy from the challenges involved in making materialism intuitively acceptable. Godfrey-Smith describes his approach—borrowing from some remarks by the mathematician Alexander Gothendieck—as one of building knowledge around a problem until the problem transforms and disappears. In this way, the books seeks to open new directions for thinking about the nature of the mind and its realization in the vastly different bodies of our fellow creatures. Some of my favourite passages from Metazoa involve speculations that reach beyond what can be settled by currently available evidence; one has the sense there of being included in Godfrey-Smith's own private meditations, as though sitting with him while he thinks aloud on these difficult topics. If, like me, you engage with Metazoa as an audiobook, you'll see (or hear) that the author reads his own work for his one. Authors reading their own works can sometimes go quite badly, but Godfrey-Smith's reading of his work is clear and engaging. After a while, I found myself returning to the audiobook as if to an ongoing conversation with an old friend. If there is a downside to the audiobook, it is merely that the diagrams and pictures that feature in the printed edition of the book are not included. If you also take this on as an audiobook, I highly recommend finding some way to have a look at these—perhaps online or in the kindle edition of the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    The author poses some really interesting questions about cognition by taking us from the development of single-celled creatures all the way to mammals. The author has an engaging style, and makes his material really interesting. He points to fossils and experiments performed with present day invertebrates to postulate behaviours and experiences of long-dead creatures, and from there to gradually build a picture of thinking and feeling based on actions, reactions and experiences. The author refus The author poses some really interesting questions about cognition by taking us from the development of single-celled creatures all the way to mammals. The author has an engaging style, and makes his material really interesting. He points to fossils and experiments performed with present day invertebrates to postulate behaviours and experiences of long-dead creatures, and from there to gradually build a picture of thinking and feeling based on actions, reactions and experiences. The author refuses to simply take the traditional route that only humans can think and feel, as researchers have determined some really interesting things from arthropods, cephalopods (Adrian Tchaikovsky’s octopodes in Children of Ruin get a mention here), and other sea creatures. He also asks what our responsibilities are with respect to certain kinds of research on our fellow beings on this planet. There was a lot to think about, and honestly, I think I need to revisit this to get a better grasp on the various interesting ideas the author raised in this terrific book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Epistemology is one of my many weak points. There were places in this wondrous book that waxed too philosophical for me to follow and I confess got skimmed. The new paleontology, the biology, the neuroscience, the animal behavior sections are moving and eye-opening They are also witty, as in the description of a shrimp with multiple appendages "a Swiss army knife" or of another shrimp with a head "festooned with golf clubs and party lights." The author describes an experiment showing that bees, Epistemology is one of my many weak points. There were places in this wondrous book that waxed too philosophical for me to follow and I confess got skimmed. The new paleontology, the biology, the neuroscience, the animal behavior sections are moving and eye-opening They are also witty, as in the description of a shrimp with multiple appendages "a Swiss army knife" or of another shrimp with a head "festooned with golf clubs and party lights." The author describes an experiment showing that bees, with brains of 1 cubic mm volume, can quickly learn to follow two-stage decision trees. A central argument is to toss out the old phrases we learned about "higher animals," and "lower on the tree of evolution." This book is a scientific complement to the poetry of Henry Beston decades ago in The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ben Rogers

    I enjoyed this one. Great scientific book. I feel that, although this book was great, I would recommend instead these books instead: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness Fathoms: The World in the Whale Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures 2.9/5 I enjoyed this one. Great scientific book. I feel that, although this book was great, I would recommend instead these books instead: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness Fathoms: The World in the Whale Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures 2.9/5

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    A wonderful book! Continues the exploration of consciousness he started in “Other Minds” by looking at other forms of life. Great combination of biology and philosophy of mind, with lots of reasoning based on evolutionary theory. Also, the author is a great observer of wildlife. Finally, I loved his writing style - he doesn’t lecture the reader, instead he brings you along on a voyage with him. He has a definite point of view, but he is humble and is respectful to those who he doesn’t agree with A wonderful book! Continues the exploration of consciousness he started in “Other Minds” by looking at other forms of life. Great combination of biology and philosophy of mind, with lots of reasoning based on evolutionary theory. Also, the author is a great observer of wildlife. Finally, I loved his writing style - he doesn’t lecture the reader, instead he brings you along on a voyage with him. He has a definite point of view, but he is humble and is respectful to those who he doesn’t agree with. Reminds me of Darwin, and what higher praise is possible?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I found this book fascinating. Consciousness is well within my area of expertise as a psychologist, but the further one advances in her education, the more specialized her focus becomes. Metazoa took me all the way back to the history and systems of psychology. I haven’t considered qualia in any meaningful fashion since I was an undergrad! Godfrey-Smith builds an argument, and the process is necessarily a bit tedious, but I learned a lot about consciousness/cognition/minimal cognition in non-mam I found this book fascinating. Consciousness is well within my area of expertise as a psychologist, but the further one advances in her education, the more specialized her focus becomes. Metazoa took me all the way back to the history and systems of psychology. I haven’t considered qualia in any meaningful fashion since I was an undergrad! Godfrey-Smith builds an argument, and the process is necessarily a bit tedious, but I learned a lot about consciousness/cognition/minimal cognition in non-mammals, and I enjoyed hearing a philosopher’s take on the matter. What I read in Metazoa strengthens my inclination to learn more about non-mammals, invertebrates, and even plants and fungi that first arose when I read Merlin Sheldrake’s An Entangled Life. Metazoa might be a bit technical for people without a pre-existing interest in consciousness, but I think the world would be a much better place if everyone took the time to consider the experience of non-human animals, and I hope it will be widely read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    The Inquisitive Biologist

    Author of the bestseller Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith returns to the topic of subjective experience, consciousness and minds, charting the evolution of life's ability to behold itself. Read my full review at https://inquisitivebiologist.com/2020... Author of the bestseller Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith returns to the topic of subjective experience, consciousness and minds, charting the evolution of life's ability to behold itself. Read my full review at https://inquisitivebiologist.com/2020...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I so enjoyed Godfrey-Smith's "Other Minds," and was looking for something similar. I was surprised at his Australian accent, having read this book on Audio. I found parts of it, especially the part on Ions and the electrical aspects of mind....somewhat confusing for laymen like me. Listening further, I enjoyed the book, but found the subjects in Other Minds to be more concise and succinct. I so enjoyed Godfrey-Smith's "Other Minds," and was looking for something similar. I was surprised at his Australian accent, having read this book on Audio. I found parts of it, especially the part on Ions and the electrical aspects of mind....somewhat confusing for laymen like me. Listening further, I enjoyed the book, but found the subjects in Other Minds to be more concise and succinct.

  15. 5 out of 5

    WheeldonHS

    Firstly, this is a philosophical text and not a scientific text so it is quite light on science and heavy on philosophical speculation. The author uses their interest in marine life to contemplate consciousness and the divide between the physical (tangible) and non-physical (intangible) self. I really enjoyed the author's other work - "Other Minds" - however, I found this particular work to be somewhat aimless and less cohesive. I also found the author's ideas to be somewhat unformed and wishy-wa Firstly, this is a philosophical text and not a scientific text so it is quite light on science and heavy on philosophical speculation. The author uses their interest in marine life to contemplate consciousness and the divide between the physical (tangible) and non-physical (intangible) self. I really enjoyed the author's other work - "Other Minds" - however, I found this particular work to be somewhat aimless and less cohesive. I also found the author's ideas to be somewhat unformed and wishy-washy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Odo

    2.5/5.0

  17. 4 out of 5

    K. Ira

    I read this immediately after Other minds. I didn't get the feel of major unnecessary overlap. He attempts to go further along his original concepts of consciousness and the mind and includes various animal life instead of focusing on octopi. After the first book, this one did not fall short of expectations. I read this immediately after Other minds. I didn't get the feel of major unnecessary overlap. He attempts to go further along his original concepts of consciousness and the mind and includes various animal life instead of focusing on octopi. After the first book, this one did not fall short of expectations.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    An informative, readable study of the origins of subjective experience in animals. This meeting of philosophy and science is engaging and thought-provoking.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    An interesting combination of science and philosophy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adam Carter

    This book is a collection of interesting ideas and research that have helped the author think about consciousness, personalised using some stories about his scuba diving adventures. Many of the ideas explored were thought provoking. I thought the discussion on whether consciousness can be disunified in an animal and whether certain features of a nervous system resist immediate translation onto a computer particularly interesting. But none of the books ideas were presented in a way that was parti This book is a collection of interesting ideas and research that have helped the author think about consciousness, personalised using some stories about his scuba diving adventures. Many of the ideas explored were thought provoking. I thought the discussion on whether consciousness can be disunified in an animal and whether certain features of a nervous system resist immediate translation onto a computer particularly interesting. But none of the books ideas were presented in a way that was particularly novel nor were these ideas conducive to an overall compelling story about consciousness. On the one hand this books lacks the coherence and rigour that one might expect from a philosophical/empirical book on consciousness. On the other hand, this book doesn’t promise to provide more than it delivers, a modest, hopeful and well written conversation between science and philosophy. Unfortunately, I can only give this book two stars because I struggle knowing what kind of audience I would recommend this book to. I’ve read better introductions to the problem of consciousness, better introductions to biology and the evolution of animals, and better personal stories about the natural world. Moreover, I am not convinced that trying to integrate all these genres in this book paid off.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sunshine

    I was excited to win this book as a Giveaway because I enjoyed the author's previous exploration of animal consciousness, "Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness". That book I gave one less star because, for all the amazing insights into octopus and cuttlefish behavior and intelligence it contained, I often had to read the denser philosophical sections twice. Godfrey-Smith has seriously honed his writing in this sequel and developed his poetic side to the point I was excited to win this book as a Giveaway because I enjoyed the author's previous exploration of animal consciousness, "Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness". That book I gave one less star because, for all the amazing insights into octopus and cuttlefish behavior and intelligence it contained, I often had to read the denser philosophical sections twice. Godfrey-Smith has seriously honed his writing in this sequel and developed his poetic side to the point where I had to stop writing down his arresting turns of phrase or I'd be copying half the book. This is definitely a book of philosophy (and I'm not sure who would expect otherwise from the title), but I found it extremely approachable, and if I read a section twice, it was only out of amazement. This and Robert Macfarlane's "Underland: A Deep Time Journey" were my two favorite nonfiction reads of 2020.

  22. 4 out of 5

    John Rueter

    Unfortunately, I am listening to the audio book. There are long sections of elementary biology and evolution that I would otherwise scan. I paused reading until I had more patience, but I plan to go back to it. The premise of different minds having different experiences is fascinating.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    An pleasant little stroll through the evolution of consciousness, and some interesting thoughts on the minds of creatures other than humans. Yet it all felt a little vague and unfocused and not as good as his earlier book on octopuses.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Locke

    I enjoyed listening to this audiobook so much that I have decided to give it a second go to see if there’s anything I missed. I highly recommend for not only nature lovers, but, for those who are looking for something that is missing in their lives.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Phillip

    2.5 / 5.0 Disappointing. I don't think he ever came up with a cohesive point to make. Seems to want to advocate an expansive theory of sentience but never quite steps up to siate it 2.5 / 5.0 Disappointing. I don't think he ever came up with a cohesive point to make. Seems to want to advocate an expansive theory of sentience but never quite steps up to siate it

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matt Reid

    An insightful and clear exploration of evolution and how it has led to the emergence of consciousness.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    listened to the audio book, should flip through a physical copy before rating

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Fascinating and challenging read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brian Richard Mori

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tillmann Ziegert

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