Course Details

945: Other Minds: The Octopus and Origins of Consciousness

February 4-7, 2019
11:45 AM - 1:15 PM

The octopus has seized the imaginations of many interested in the intelligence of non-human creatures, since it seems that these marine invertebrates are at least as smart as parrots or mice. Yet, as cephalopods in the mollusk phylum, they are separated from us by over a half billion years of evolution. How could this level of intelligence evolve in such distant organisms? In his book, Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, philosopher and science historian Peter Godfrey-Smith tackles these issues and takes us on a diving expedition to “Octopolis” off the coast of Sydney, Australia. We will read and discuss the book, and enjoy some visuals of this unusual animal.

Class Format: Lecture and Discussion

Hours of Reading: 1-2 hours/session

Study Group Leader(s):

Elizabeth Seastrum
Betsy Seastrum is a retired lawyer who has worked as a volunteer at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, Department of Paleobiology, Graphics and FossiLabs, since 2005. She has led many study groups in the field of evolution and paleontology.

Reading List:

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, Peter Godfrey-Smith. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016, ISBN: 9780374227760.