Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of ConsciousnessOther Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful book. My confirmation bias might have something to do with my liking it so much, but I’ll just have to live with that!

I understand Godfrey-Smith to be a philosopher, which I don’t hold against him…that breed can be rather full of themselves and tend to pepper simplicities with obscure jargon to hide the lack of substance…because he is generous with his restraint. Is this rigorous? Not at all and that is what makes this good for the common reader. Godfrey-Smith writes an eminently readable narrative of a decidedly odd consciousness whose evolution split from ours so very long ago. Details of what we know to date on the neurology and intelligence of the most fascinating branch of Cephalopods are woven around his personal experiences diving off of Australia. I was not expecting explanations (as there are few for this still misunderstood creature) but I also didn’t mind the speculations that accompanied the facts (as we know them).

An observation…the title really might have been singular as he focuses on octopuses. But then again, he might have been talking about all octopuses as “other minds”, as opposed to other species. Regardless, there’s a love affair here, and I’m right there with him.

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