Join Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith on a fascinating journey to the depths of the ocean to learn how nature became aware of itself
In this lecture Peter Godfrey-Smith brings his parallel careers as a philosopher of science and a scuba diver together to tell a bold new story of how nature became aware of itself. Mammals and birds are widely seen as the smartest creatures on earth. But one other branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. New research shows that these marvelous creatures display remarkable gifts, with each of their tentacles even capable of thinking for itself. What does it mean that higher intelligence on earth has evolved not once but twice? And that the mind of the octopus is nonetheless so different from our own? Combining science and philosophy with first hand accounts of his cephalopod encounters, Godfrey-Smith shows how primitive organisms bobbing in the ocean began sending signals to each other and how these early forms of communication gave rise to the advanced nervous systems that permit cephalopods to change colours and human beings to speak. By tracing the problem of consciousness back to its roots and comparing the human brain to its most alien and perhaps most remarkable animal relative this lecture sheds new light on one of our most abiding mysteries.
Speaker: Peter Godfrey-Smith is a professor in the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney.