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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by Peter Godfrey-Smith with Mitch Riley.

The scuba-diving philosopher who wrote Other Minds explores the origins of animal consciousness.

Dip below the ocean’s surface and you are soon confronted by forms of life that could not seem more foreign to our own: sea sponges, soft corals, and serpulid worms, whose rooted bodies, intricate geometry, and flower-like appendages are more reminiscent of plant life or even architecture than anything recognizably animal. Yet these creatures are our cousins. As fellow members of the animal kingdom — the Metazoa— they can teach us much about the evolutionary origins of not only our bodies, but also our minds.

In his acclaimed 2016 book, Other Minds, the philosopher and scuba diver Peter Godfrey-Smith explored the mind of the octopus — the closest thing to an intelligent alien on Earth. In Metazoa, Godfrey-Smith expands his inquiry to animals at large, investigating the evolution of subjective experience with the assistance of far-flung species. As he delves into what it feels like to perceive and interact with the world as other life-forms do, Godfrey-Smith shows that the appearance of the animal body well over half a billion years ago was a profound innovation that set life upon a new path. In accessible, riveting prose, he charts the ways that subsequent evolutionary developments — eyes that track, for example, and bodies that move through and manipulate the environment — shaped the subjective lives of animals. Following the evolutionary paths of a glass sponge, soft coral, banded shrimp, octopus, and fish, then moving onto land and the world of insects, birds, and primates like ourselves, Metazoa gathers their stories together in a way that bridges the gap between mind and matter, addressing one of the most vexing philosophical problems: that of consciousness.

Combining vivid animal encounters with philosophical reflections and the latest news from biology, Metazoa reveals that even in our high-tech, AI-driven times, there is no understanding our minds without understanding nerves, muscles, and active bodies. The story that results is as rich and vibrant as life itself. 

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux 

©2020 Peter Godfrey-Smith (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

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What listeners say about Metazoa

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Fantastic

I didn't find this book to be a compelling argument in favor of materialism, but it was wonderful if taken as an exploration of how consciousness might work, and of what it's like to be a nonhuman organism, given the premise that materialism is correct.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

outstanding

Best book I have read or listened to this year. Although I have been reading related information for decades, this book brought me new facts and a new perspective. I am still processing what that new perspective means for how I view the world and what my moral obligations are to other forms of life.

7 people found this helpful

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Philosophy Meets Biology

As long as you approach this book as a philosophy book instead of a hard-and-fast biology book, you'll enjoy it immensely. The author is witty and insightful, and gives you enough backstory and contrary opinions to appreciate his theories. It helps that he narrates it, because it was obviously written in his own unique voice. I highly recommend this for fans of biological diversity (evolution) and modern philosophy.

7 people found this helpful

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Fascinating book

Fascinating, sometimes heady stuff, but well grounded in the creatures explored - under sea, on ground and above. He really handles well the questions around sensitivity, feeling and consciousness.

5 people found this helpful

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well written, easy to listen to

peters voice is pleasant, i feel that anyone reading his works would be inadequate. i do appreciate the work being done by this man, and consideration should be given to animal with a gradient or levels of consciousness. however towards the end peter makes a couple assertions in that robots/ ai cannot be made conscious by replicating the patterns of human mind. it is asserted that there's something still missing from them which cannot be simulated, i feel this assertion is unfounded and had no supporting argument, which later on he acknowledges robots may one day become conscious(making that whole segmentkind of useless as it supported nothing else). besides that end piece, this is a great read for anyone interested in ethics and animal rights.

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Journey through Philosophy and Biology

As in his book, Other Minds, a wonderful experience watching his mind work and his theories unfurl. More thoughts to follow, but my favorite takeaway is Our Mind is a Garden of things that arise and things that we furnish.

In this amazing book he traces the evolutionary journey of the rise of consciousness from sponges and soft corals through arthropods and cephalopods to Humans. Even more importantly he proposes a theory of the Human Experiential Profile that transcends the mechanical storm of cell to cell communication to encompass all of Felt Experience.

Listening to his narration really captures his fascination with his topic and the incredible detail he brings to his research. Five Stars *****

1 person found this helpful

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where are the pictures?

another audiobook that really needs images. otherwise very interesting material. I have a modern reprint of ernst Haeckels art forms in nature. a nice companion to metazoa.

1 person found this helpful

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Mind as a contiuum. Thought Provoking

If anything drives me crazy in Sci-Fi, it's the eternal question of "Are they sentient?" Sentience, the ability to perceive or feel things is a quality of life, not just something that distinguishes things that think like us. Even single-celled organisms respond to their environment, indicating they are capable of perceiving it.

However, we have a sense that somehow, the perceptions by a tree and a person are different. Peter Godfrey-Smith investigates the continuum of sentient experience across clades of animals, He begins with the physical and chemical world of the single-celled organisms and sponges, then expands that investigation across the more complex organisms from anemones and corals to insects and vertebrates. Through provoking, and a book I am definitely going to recommend to my introductory and animal-behaviour students.

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A primer on the evolution of consciousness

An enlightening story of Earth's life and how it came to be self aware.

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  • DD
  • 02-05-22

Detailed review with important concepts

This book starts slow and moves slow in the beginning but the concepts are developed and the thesis of thought is important to consider and be exposed to.