File Size: 6510 KB
Print Length: 271 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (December 6, 2016)
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Other Minds is very a set of loosely connected essays about the advancement of life forms, especially cephalopods, of which octopuses are one example, with an emphasis on brains, thoughts, and, to a certain degree, mind. There is a great deal of straight science here but also first-hand stories from the author’s own scuba-dives in Octopolis, a site off Australia. I was especially moved by his experience of having an octopus reach out to touch him and lead him or her around his home turf.
The guide is beautifully told and extremely informative; I figured out a tremendous amount about evolution and was especially impressed at how the same traits and design appear to have evolved completely independently several times. On one level, though, I was disappointed, because both the title and the book jacket implied that the book is about subjective experience and mind and how it offers developed in other beings than humans. This is a leading topic in the book but not the only one, e. h., the closing section is about the precarious state of our marine atmosphere and just how we need to protect it. The guide does not explore mind nearly as much as I had expected, especially since the author is a philosophy professor. I might classify it as Research and Nature; if that is exactly what you are looking for, it is really worth your time., This was a profoundly interesting guide to read. I became intrigued after seeing a review of it and had never come across the author before. It was intriguing generally for the subject matter which I had a minor amount of curiosity about. It was however, the first book I have read about cephalopods. My other activities have been by reading articles and lately watching YouTube videos.
It is not simply about octopuses and squids though. It is about using those life forms to explore bigger things like intelligence, consciousness and how animals including humans understand their environment. The writer explores evolutionary possibilities about how animals come to associate to conspecifics, predators and prey. There are others that do not effectively fit any of those categories.
As a book written for a popular audience it is not replete with scientific jargon and when new words or concepts are introduced, they are explained in easy to understand language with very good examples to provide perspective. Maybe the thing I actually appreciated the most was that it was written using a lot of questions and humble recommendations rather than offering grand new theories. It made for a far more thought invoking read than some others in the genre. Individuals questions and recommendations are too many for a book review but below a few will be presented.
It truly is nearly an aside here, but a philosopher who field research by diving scuba off the coast of Australia with scientists and whose research reveals not raw data for lab testing but philosophical information, makes the author himself a very interesting character. Several of his activities can be viewed here.
Early in the book the reader is introduced to cephalopods by way of the diving scuba anecdotal stories of their engagement with the humans. Particularly, he means the interactions with the writer. Certainly the cephalopod does not recognize that item as we do but something such as a dark creature with no face, four biceps and triceps and many bubbles exuding from them. Nevertheless the author experienced them attaining a tentacle or provide out to tactilely probe the object of this encounter-to the idea of attempting to pull them into the lair. This conduct suggests the importance of feel to the cephalopod’s show of resources that help it survive and bring out spawn.
He or she also observed their visual observance of everything around them. They watched the scuba divers but also their entire landscape for friend, foe and neutral bodies. Well maybe just for foe as the writer indicated often, these species are generally indifferent to their conspecifics. He or she did remark on variant from the rule here as he did when he was making a general statement about behaviors. Noting exceptions to the rule is crucial to explanation and for the non-scientist reader, valuable.
He brought up the very fact of the elaborate stressed systems of these pets and just how that plays with the brilliant skills for the animals to shape shift as if to conform to their environment which included immediate color changes. It is impressive for several reasons but a couple are the fact that the colorations do not occur as if by one mechanism but instead by many people yet it occurs so quickly it seems as if by ease. It is a about three step process since they mechanisms occur at about three different layers of cases. The details are in the book but not here. They are too exciting for my own interpretation. He does provide an image however.
One other strange curiosity is that labrador results strongly suggest that these are colorblind. Something within the nervous system that is not visual ignites the instantaneous processes that allow the color change and body morphing. He or she examines this through two different procedures of the nervous systems one in which is the taking of sensory cues from the environment with the innate motor skills reply like autonomic reactions. The particular other is a less complicated stimulus response action centered on what occurs on the spot like the flight or fight response.
In this discussion he cited other philosophers of consciousness to remind us that interpretation involves a lot of questions. There is practically nothing certain and plenty that could be probable. In efforts to describe animal behavior from a non-anthropomorphic perspective, the viewer may well not always see the forest for the trees and shrubs. Yet we are thrust into a situation where it is difficult to understand information and the running of it from other than a human perspective. We all also have to treat information as a physical thing-something to be assessed. Is it? Or could it be reducible to a binomial sort of impulse and response an immediate (and evolutionarily adaptive) reaction? This is a debated question amongst those examining what exactly is meant by “consciousness”. In reality it remains sort of a Gordian knot and there are dualists who consider that consciousness is made up of a “functional” quality which is the 1s and 0s of binomial information. That also has a “phenomenal” essence that involves the interpretational or conscious experience. The former is said to control behavior and the latter simply is consciousness. It is these sort of issues that the author proposes not to find concrete answers but to ask additional questions.
Godfrey-Smith ponders hard on the notion of consciousness saying “It’s sometimes hard to work out how these ideas relate to my own focus on here: subjective experience in a very broad sense. I treat subjective experience as a broad class and consciousness as a narrower category within it— not everything that an creature might feel should be mindful. ” More important than defining consciousness, the writer provides much to consider and you can take advantage of that.
Back to the pets, the author learned several things that also make the reader think. Together with the knowledge that cephalopods possess a intricate nervous system it would appear that it would take years to develop and yet he or she informs us that these species have a very short life span. Inside most cases four years would be very long. He asks about the evolutionary good thing about this intricate structure to only are present for so short a time. They hardly have time to use their wondrous skills when they are replaced by the next generation.
They are semelparous that means that they only reproduce once in a life time and in their case, the female dies right after spawning. They also use a deimatic display which is one of complete submission and the writer examined this many times and offers recommendations why. These beasts are so effective at camouflaging for protection along with predate, why would they require a passive and subordinate display? It is not used when flight would work or an attempt to startle something it might eat. There is no clear answer but he or she believes it can be used when a more aggressive conspecific appears.
There is much to discover cephalopods and there is scarce information of them historically. Being soft bodied they do not protect well so the fossil record is nearly non-existent. His own efforts at first hand observation are in coordination with biologists and other scientists. There is much study of them going on today. That is clear that the bounty of possible research is hindered by decreasing environment. That is a problem that the study of any creature behavior faces. With environment change comes both a loss of habitat, but a change in conduct as well. Various species adapt differently to changing environment environments such as warming waters.
This was a simple guide not to put down. The particular pace was lively and informative yet never certain. The book makes the curious reader intent on learning more of the subject matter. He provided a lot of philosophical questions for you to ponder., A new great check into cephalopods, especially the octopus according to considering from evolutionary biology and philosophy. Great anecdotes about octopus behaviors, I seriously adored the book. and the antics of the Octopus. WOW!, Great book! Writer writes well and contains great command of his substance. The evolutionary parts are remarkably insightful., Great PUBLICATION loved it., Love Octopi. Had them in Aquaria and saw them on a few dives. LOVE the Book., This is a great read, philosophy of the mind grounded in technology, wonderfully written.
My only qualm with this guide is that it made me swear off eating cuttlefish and octopus. Considered they are both tasty, I have too much respect for these amazing, crafty animals.
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