Introducing the Collins Modern Classics, a series featuring some of the most significant books of recent times, books that shed light on the human experience – classics which will endure for generations to come.
What if intelligent life on earth not only evolved on land, but also in the sea?
Other Minds is a bold new story of how nature became aware of itself – a story that largely occurs in the ocean, where animals first appeared. Tracking the mind’s fitful development over millennia, Other Minds explores the incredible evolutionary journey of the cephalopods. What kind of intelligence do they possess? And how did the octopus, a solitary creature with little social life, become so smart?
Heralded as the ‘scuba-diving philosopher’ when Other Minds first published, Peter Godfrey-Smith explores the underwater world and the concept of sentience to trace the question of inner life back to its roots. By comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Other Minds casts crucial new light on the octopus mind – and on our own.
About the author
Peter Godfrey-Smith is a distinguished professor of history and the philosophy of science at the University of Sydney. He is the author of four books, including Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection, which won the 2010 Lakatos Award for an outstanding work on the philosophy of science. His underwater videos of octopuses have been featured in National Geographic and New Scientist.
- Praise for Other Minds:
- ‘Entrancing and profound’ Financial Times
- ‘A superb, coruscating book’ Literary Review
- ‘Startlingly incisive … refreshing guidance’ New York Times
- ‘Brilliant … The beauty of Godfrey-Smith’s book lies in the clarity of his writing; his empathy, if you will. He takes us through those early stirrings in the seas of deep time, from bacteria that sense light and can taste, to cnidarian jellyfish, the first organisms to exhibit nervous systems, which he describes wonderfully.’ Philip Hoare, Guardian
- ‘Fascinating and often delightful … This book ingeniously blends philosophy and science to trace the epic journey from single-celled organisms of 3.8 billion years ago to the awakening and development of cephalopod consciousness.’ The Times
- ‘As poignant as anything you will read this year’ Mail on Sunday
- ‘In Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith, a philosopher, skilfully combines science, philosophy and his experiences of swimming among these tentacled beasts to illuminate the origin and nature of consciousness.’ The Economist
- ‘A delight on so many levels’ Dive magazine
- ‘To investigate these astonishing animals with such empathy and rigour is achievement enough. To do so while casting light on the birth and nature of consciousness, as Peter Godfrey-Smith does here, is captivating.’ China Miéville, author of Kraken
- ‘I love this book, its masterful blend of natural history, philosophy, and wonder … It’s a captivating story, and Peter Godfrey-Smith brings it alive in vivid, elegant prose … A must-read for anyone interested in the evolution of the mind – ours and the very other, but equally sentient, minds of the cephalopods.’ Jennifer Ackerman, author of The Genius of Birds