Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Strangely enough, this book -- which could have turned into a free-for-all metaphysics/philosophy speculation-fest -- actually turned out to be a relatively careful, thoughtful science book that poses, but does not attempt to prove, that octopods may be the real deal.
Intelligence does not need a spine. Hell, to me, this should be rather obvious.
I appreciate how the old scientific prejudice and just plain annoyance with the creatures might have skewed clear thinking about squids. I also understand that very little in the way of extensive research has been done on them.
But what really fascinates me is the hints at what they really could be. Their short lives notwithstanding, they seem to have perceptual powers that are astounding. Every inch of their skin seems to be hyper-aware and the chromatophores (skin pigmentation changes) are wildly expressive and responsive.
What I think, and what the book is careful not to speculate on, is pretty fascinating: deep communications are going on in the visual medium. Indeed, since octopods' neural structure is across their entire bodies, we can make some really interesting suppositions. Like full-concept transmissions, learning, teaching ... perhaps even more ... between these short-lived creatures. Maybe consciousness.
Me? I love this. The author doesn't take it there, but leads us to this doorstep. It's up to us to dream. :) I love dreaming. :)
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