METAZOA, Animal life and the birth of the mind, Peter Godfey-Smith

W4U Have you ever read, or listened to:

METAZOA

BY PETER GODFREY-SMITH ‧ RELEASE DATE: NOV. 10, 2020

ANIMAL LIFE AND THE BIRTH OF THE MIND

A philosophical investigation of how animals, from the bottom up, experience the world.

In this follow-up to his previous book, the highly acclaimed Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (2016), Godfrey-Smith, professor of history and the philosophy of science at the University of Sydney, rewinds the clock to recount the evolution of consciousness from the time life first appeared 4 billion years ago.

Long before nervous systems or even nerves evolved, there was sentience. No living cell is oblivious to what is going on around it, but animals take it to a new level. “Single-celled organisms can track touches, chemicals, light, and even Earth’s magnetic field,” writes the author. “But in animals, sensing saw a transition—it saw several, in fact.”

I think Peter does a good job of explaining the situation in a way I can never hope to. Of course, he’s a real professor with a depth of learning beyond my comprehension. The impressive thing for me is that he discusses it from a genuinely evolutionary perspective, which mean getting into the nitty gritty of wet squishy biology. Philosophers prefer to keep their hands clean in a way that irritates and increasing draws my scorn.

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W4U Have you ever read, **[or listened to]

Other Minds - YouTube :

BY [PETER GODFREY-SMITH

ANIMAL LIFE AND THE BIRTH OF THE MIND

A philosophical investigation of how animals, from the bottom up, experience the world.

In this follow-up to his previous book, the highly acclaimed *[Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness] Godfrey-Smith, professor of history and the philosophy of science at the University of Sydney, rewinds the clock to recount the evolution of consciousness from the time life first appeared 4 billion years ago.

Long before nervous systems or even nerves evolved, there was sentience. No living cell is oblivious to what is going on around it, but animals take it to a new level. “Single-celled organisms can track touches, chemicals, light, and even Earth’s magnetic field,” writes the author. “But in animals, sensing saw a transition—it saw several, in fact.”

No I haven’t and I shall!

But I have been talking about this exact chronology for a long time now, complete with examples of the single-celled paramecium ability to navigate, the ability of bacteria to communicate via “quorum sensing”, for the slime mold to solve mazes by a process of eliminating dead-ends.

I have described the evolution of the mind, from the biochemical processing of light waves by light sensitive chemical patches to the incredible accuracy of eagle-eyes, to the evolution of neural networks and the functional utility of microtubules which is are a COMMON DENOMINATOR in all Eukaryotic life, and are the actual electrochemical data processors throughout the body (cytoskeleton) and especially in the brain and that is IMO, the best candidate for the physical base of emergent and continuously evolution and refinement of sensory abilities and the self-awareness in relation to that external data, and the extraordinary leap of intelligence in humans from a rare beneficial mutation of the fusion of two chromosomes, which allowed for expansion of the cranial space to and the increased size and complexity of the human brain.

Mind that there are many animals that have specially evolved survival mechanisms that far outstrip humans in sensitivity, such as sonar in bats and whales, electric eels that are able to generate 500 volts as a defensive and predatory mechanism, the shape-shifting abilities of octopi and cuttlefish, the sense of smell in bloodhounds that are able to track trails of single day old molecules. The sense of smell in the male Mayfly that can detect female pheromone for up to 10 miles away.

The ability of photosynthesis and heliotropism in many plants. Predatory plants that feed on insects. The macrobiome of Coral reefs and the symbiosis of all living organisms and beneficial bacteria.

The list of evolved organisms from the three elementary particles is what we see when we look around us from mud to the stars.

Evolution has bestowed many living organisms with an extraordinary emergent survival techniques, and in humans that is the ability to make range long plans and then the ability to construct the objects in accordance to the planned blue-prints.

But that extraordinary ability of humans to manipulate natural sources and forces is a double edged sword and apparently unlike all other ordinary animals our moral decision making rests primarily on greed and instant gratification, which has made humans into an “invasive species” instead of a contributor to the natural balance required for stability and symmetry of evolutionary processes.

There is not a thought of a metaphysical agency in my mind, other than the orderly logic (mathematical) essence of nature that we have learned to put to our use and allows us to manipulate it to our advantage.

No mystery, no magic. Just evolutionary processes, by means of natural selection from beginning to end.

The universe itself is an astounding expression of the interactions of natural values and functions.

:+1:

I have the perfect soundtrack to go with that:

(if you’ll excuse the caboose that comes with it)