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Other Minds

The Octopus and The Evolution of Intelligent Life
Narrated by: Peter Noble
Length: 6 hrs and 43 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (146 ratings)

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Publisher's 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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Light and Entrancing

Who knew that do much was happening in the mind of a cuttlefish or octopus? Fascinating from beginning to end. Books don't often change my perspective of the world in a tangible way - this is a rare exception. Other Minds is a loving fusion of evolution, biology and philosophy. I found Godfrey-Smith's story telling so compelling that I probably won't eat octopus again. If ever you wonder why the ocean is deserving of our moral consideration, read this book.

2 people found this helpful

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A beautiful exploration of alien life

An enlightening read with equal parts science, philosophy, and beautiful prose. Absolutely recommended for anybody with an interest in evolution, sentience, or our incredible cephalopals.

1 person found this helpful

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Fasinating exploration of the minds.

It was over to quickly! Loved the exploration of the theory of the minds found on this planet.

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Excellent and entertaining.

The author shows excellent depth of knowledge of the subject. Asks good questions and provokes the next questions. He shows his bias when it comes to alternative points of view, dismissing genuine alternatives with a grunt or two. How could anyone think otherwise? ....By looking at other evidence. By not assuming evolutionary theory is beyond question. Nevertheless, he makes his case well and leaves the difficult questions to others.

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  • Max
  • 25-09-2020

Absolutely wonderful

An exquisite book, beautifully narrated, well-researched, and a totally fascinating read. I have not enjoyed a book this much in a while. Despite the author's occasional excessive anthropomorphism, it is a well reasoned and carefully thought-out book.

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Fascinating, informative, and thought provoking.

An wonderful window into the lives of cephalopods, and a fascinating study of intelligence itself.

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Literary science at its pinnacle

Fantastic performance reading a stunning book.
Godfrey-Smith shows his passion for the philosophy, psychology, and biology of the Cephalopods whilst communicating cutting edge science.

It is great to see communication of this content done in such an academic, yet accessible way. Very enjoyable.

Highly recommended

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  • Matt
  • 04-08-2020

An interesting and thought provoking book.

I have been thinking about some of the topics and ideas from this book since starting it and I expect for some time. I feel much better informed about cephalopods, and this book fit well my my general interest in consciousness. the narrator was an excellent choice.

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  • Chris C
  • 24-10-2018

amazing world of the octopus

You wouldn't think we'd have that much in common with something that lives in the ocean but the reality is we absolutely do. This is beautifully written and read, it's compelling and curious with a wonderful. You can learn a lot about humanity and evolution from this book and I recommend it.

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  • Al
  • 27-03-2017

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.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-03-2018

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

16 people found this helpful

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  • Hendy
  • 18-12-2018

The extraordinary octopus

A profoundly fascinating and thought provoking study of this group of animals, based on close personal observation in the oceans and scientific understanding. It provides lessons that apply to the future of he human race and all species.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Lulubeth
  • 24-08-2018

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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Ann
  • 19-12-2018

A great read with a wide variety of thoughts.

Loaded with factual detail and historical references but also added occasional narratives on real life encounters and experiences. Challenging and thought provoking. So good I would read it again one day!

6 people found this helpful

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  • K-Diddy
  • 06-12-2018

A cephalopod love story

It's clear that Peter Godfrey-Smith holds a special place in his heart for these unusual and enigmatic creatures. The book discusses the science of intelligence through our relationship to cephalopods. It's interesting, enlightening and often challenges our preconceptions. I cant speak for the writer's scientific rigour; he definitely allows himself to personify these animals to a certain extent... that being said, these colourful desriptions are always backed up with an academic discussion. All in all I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in natural science.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Yanklank
  • 07-10-2018

Amazing

Well researched and perfectly presented. A fascinating combination of evolutionary biology (not my interest at all but the author managed to make it very interesting) and philosophy of mind and their intersection occurring in the sea and ourselves. With crazy anecdotes and stories it makes for a terrific listen/read

6 people found this helpful

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  • lucy costelloe
  • 28-06-2018

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • ls822
  • 27-08-2018

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • countrymuso
  • 18-02-2020

An Alternative Intelligence Model

I have studied spider behaviour for nigh on 4 decades and gladly did not get 'locked' into just observing them. One particular group really fascinated me behaviourally and these are the Salticidae: jumping spiders. All spiders have smitten me but this family shows so much plasticity in its behaviour I came to notice it relies of memory and intelligence. Salticids have the best eyesight of any land invertebrate and their behaviour, whilst not totally reliant on that magnificent sense, is affected by having such good vision THE best eyesight of any invertebrate goes to the Octopus. Once again we see behavioural placity that is advanced, requires learning and memory, coupled with mischief and tremendous abilities to recognise people. They too have always had me in awe. This book looks at their evolutionary development and posits several up to date theories regarding their intelligent and behaviour. I have got ME now and this reducing my reading concentration so finding the book on Audible has made it possible for me to finally imbibe myself even more on their capabilies. Layperson or topscientist will get something out of this book if they have not lost the child like ability to ask about the world and the creatures inhabiting it. I dare you not to take away some respect and admiration for these magnificent creatures after hearing this book. The myths and superstitions, just like spiders, that surround them are abundant. But truth is stranger than fiction and no animal on this Earth shows an alternative intelligence as well as Octopusses. One could not blame an alien visitor, seraching for intelligence in lifeforms on Earth, for picking the Octopus as the true hold of the number one place! What I do find sad is that Octopusses do not live very long in comparison to other invertebrates. Two years and their life is over whilst Homo sapiens has evolved to live to 90 years, destroying the planet as it goes.Not very clever are they?

4 people found this helpful

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  • Stanley Hopea
  • 01-09-2018

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. 🐙

4 people found this helpful