April 12, 2023

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness


Please join us for a talk by Peter Godfrey-Smith, Professor at the University of Sydney School of History and Philosophy of Science as he discusses his book, Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness.

In Other Minds, Godfrey-Smith 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.

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.


Peter Godfrey-Smith Author, Professor at Univ. of Sydney