In Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith, a distinguished philosopher of science and a skilled scuba diver, tells a bold new story of how subjective experience crept into being—how nature became aware of itself. As Godfrey-Smith stresses, it is a story that largely occurs in the ocean, where animals first appeared. Tracking the mind’s fitful development, Godfrey-Smith shows how unruly clumps of seaborne cells began living together and became capable of sensing, acting, and signaling. As these primitive organisms became more entangled with others, they grew more complicated.
The first nervous systems evolved, probably in ancient relatives of jellyfish; later on, the cephalopods, which began as inconspicuous mollusks, abandoned their shells and rose above the ocean floor, searching for prey and acquiring the greater intelligence needed to do so. Taking an independent route, mammals and birds later began their own evolutionary journeys.
But what kind of intelligence do cephalopods possess? Drawing on the latest scientific research and his own scuba-diving adventures, Godfrey-Smith probes the many mysteries that surround the lineage. How did the octopus, a solitary creature with little social life, become so smart? What is it like to have eight tentacles that are so packed with neurons that they virtually “think for themselves”?
Nikolai Gogol was one of the great geniuses of nineteenth century Russian literature (the oddest writer), with a command of the irrational unmatched by any author before or since. His strange tales, though often read as forceful demands for social change, were displays of the fantasies of the human spirit.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist, poet, translator, and entomologist. Born in Russia, he wrote his first nine novels in Russian while living in Berlin.
A refuge, a mother, and a depository of all our sins.
The sea lives on, while empires and civilisations rise and fall.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
George is a scientist, researcher, author of 7 books and host of the George Reads George podcast. His writing has been described by his readers as a mix of ecology, science, philosophy and poetry. Sometimes writing blogs and essays, other times poetry or memes, George often draws on his personal memoirs, exploring the toxic cocktail of existential crises that summarise humanity’s predicament: climate change, human exploitation, tech-induced mental illness and the 6th mass extinction, all of them a result of our deep existential fear.
In his books George often asks why we, humans, do the things that we do, which often seem to make no sense. His life’s ambition is to try and reveal, to set free, the Other Human that resides in each one of us: a human who has been caged, suppressed, manipulated, traumatised and forgotten by centuries of capitalism and the CO2 “Death Support Machine” we are all hooked up to. We are all so much more than we think, if we could only remember where we came from, and the tremendous wealth that all of us already possess, simply by being a species on planet Earth.