Other Minds

The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

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Author: Peter Godfrey-Smith

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 0374712808

Category: Science

Page: 272

View: 6082

Although mammals and birds are widely regarded as the smartest creatures on earth, it has lately become clear that a very distant branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. In captivity, octopuses have been known to identify individual human keepers, raid neighboring tanks for food, turn off lightbulbs by spouting jets of water, plug drains, and make daring escapes. How is it that a creature with such gifts evolved through an evolutionary lineage so radically distant from our own? What does it mean that evolution built minds not once but at least twice? The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter? 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”? What happens when some octopuses abandon their hermit-like ways and congregate, as they do in a unique location off the coast of Australia? By tracing the question of inner life back to its roots and comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Godfrey-Smith casts crucial new light on the octopus mind—and on our own.

Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life

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Author: Peter Godfrey-Smith

Publisher: HarperCollins UK

ISBN: 0008226288

Category: Science

Page: 272

View: 1885

‘Brilliant’ Guardian ‘Fascinating and often delightful’ The Times SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE What if intelligent life on Earth evolved not once, but twice? The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter?

Guide to Peter Godfrey-Smith's Other Minds

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Author: Eureka

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

ISBN: 9781544152035

Category:

Page: 36

View: 1855

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A COMPANION TO THE BOOK AND NOT THE ORIGINAL BOOK. Guide to Peter Godfrey-Smith's Other Minds Preview: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith discusses the evolution of intelligence in cephalopods in order to better understand the development of consciousness and cognition. Cephalopods like octopuses and cuttlefish have the most complex nervous systems in the invertebrate world... Inside this companion: -Overview of the book -Important People -Key Takeaways -Analysis of Key Takeaways -and much more!

The First Minds

Caterpillars, Karyotes, and Consciousness

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Author: Arthur S. Reber

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0190854154

Category: Medical

Page: 296

View: 8899

First Minds: Caterpillars, 'Karyotes, and Consciousness presents a novel theory of the origins of mind and consciousness dubbed the Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC). It argues that sentience emerged with life itself. The most primitive unicellular species of bacteria are conscious, though it is a sentience of a primitive kind. They have minds, though they are tiny and limited in scope. Hints that cells might be conscious can be found in the writings of a few cell biologists but a fully developed theory has never been put forward before. Other approaches to the origins of consciousness are examined and shown to be seriously or fatally flawed, specifically approaches based on: (a) the assumption that minds are computational and can be captured by an Artificial Intelligence, (b) efforts to discover the neuro-correlates of mental experiences and, (c) looking for consciousness in less complex species by identifying those that have precursors of those neuro-correlates. Reber shows how each of these approaches is shown to be either essentially impossible (the AI models) or so burdened by philosophical and empirical difficulties that they are effectively unworkable. The CBC approach is developed using standard models of evolutionary biology. The remarkable repertoire of single-celled species that micro- and cell-biologists have discovered is reviewed. Bacteria, for example, have sophisticated sensory and perceptual systems, learn, form memories, make decisions based on information about their environment relative to internal metabolic states, communicate with each other, and even show a primitive form of altruism. All such functions are indicators of sentience. Finally, the implications of the CBC model are discussed along with a number of related issues in evolutionary biology, philosophy of mind, the possibility of sentient plants, the ethical repercussions of universal animal sentience, and the long-range impact of adopting the CBC stance.

Irrationality

A History of the Dark Side of Reason

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Author: Justin E. H. Smith

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 0691178674

Category: History

Page: 344

View: 3170

A fascinating history that reveals the ways in which the pursuit of rationality often leads to an explosion of irrationality It’s a story we can’t stop telling ourselves. Once, humans were benighted by superstition and irrationality, but then the Greeks invented reason. Later, the Enlightenment enshrined rationality as the supreme value. Discovering that reason is the defining feature of our species, we named ourselves the “rational animal.” But is this flattering story itself rational? In this sweeping account of irrationality from antiquity to today—from the fifth-century BC murder of Hippasus for revealing the existence of irrational numbers to the rise of Twitter mobs and the election of Donald Trump—Justin Smith says the evidence suggests the opposite. From sex and music to religion and war, irrationality makes up the greater part of human life and history. Rich and ambitious, Irrationality ranges across philosophy, politics, and current events. Challenging conventional thinking about logic, natural reason, dreams, art and science, pseudoscience, the Enlightenment, the internet, jokes and lies, and death, the book shows how history reveals that any triumph of reason is temporary and reversible, and that rational schemes, notably including many from Silicon Valley, often result in their polar opposite. The problem is that the rational gives birth to the irrational and vice versa in an endless cycle, and any effort to permanently set things in order sooner or later ends in an explosion of unreason. Because of this, it is irrational to try to eliminate irrationality. For better or worse, it is an ineradicable feature of life. Illuminating unreason at a moment when the world appears to have gone mad again, Irrationality is fascinating, provocative, and timely.

Sizing up Consciousness

Towards an objective measure of the capacity for experience

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Author: Marcello Massimini,Giulio Tononi

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0191044105

Category: Medical

Page: 215

View: 2132

Everyone knows what consciousness is: it is what vanishes when we fall into dreamless sleep and reappears when we wake up or when we dream. However, we become less and less confident when we are called to answer fundamental questions about the relationships between consciousness and the physical world. Why is the cerebral cortex associated with consciousness, but not the liver, the heart, the cerebellum or other neural structures? Why does consciousness fade during deep sleep, while cortical neurons remain active? Can unresponsive patients with an island of active cortex surrounded by widespread damage be conscious? Is an artificial system that outperforms people at driving, recognizing faces and objects, and answering difficult questions conscious? Using the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) as a guiding principle, Sizing up Consciousness explores these questions, taking the reader along a fascinating journey from the cerebral cortex to the cerebellum, from wakefulness to sleep, anesthesia, and coma, supercomputers, octopuses, dolphins, and much more besides. By translating theoretical principles into practical measurements, the book outlines a preliminary attempt to identify a general rule to size up the capacity for consciousness within the human skull and beyond. Sizing up Consciousness is a short, accessible book, spanning neuronal activity to existential considerations and is essential reading for anyone interested in awareness and cognition.