Self Help

Other Minds - Peter Godfrey-Smith

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 48 min read

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Here is a summary of the key points in the excerpt:

  1. The author describes two encounters with cephalopods - octopuses and giant cuttlefish. The encounters showed a sense of mutual engagement and interest between the cephalopods and the author.

  2. Cephalopods like octopuses and cuttlefish share a common ancestor with humans from around 600 million years ago. These earliest ancestors were likely small flattened worms.

  3. The history of animals can be represented as a tree of life, with lineages branching off from common ancestors over time.

  4. Humans and cephalopods trace back to a common ancestor further down the tree of life compared to humans and other more closely related animals like chimpanzees.

  5. The author highlights that cephalopods like octopuses show intelligence and complex behavior despite being evolutionary distant from mammals.

In summary, the excerpt discusses the evolutionary history and distant relationship between cephalopods and humans, while also describing encounters that show a sense of shared interest and mutual engagement between the two distantly related lineages. The encounters point to the intelligence and complex behavior of cephalopods despite their evolutionary distance from mammals.

• The author is interested in exploring how consciousness and mind evolved from matter through an evolutionary lens. Cephalopods like octopuses play an important role in this investigation due to their divergence from our evolutionary path.

• The common ancestor of humans and cephalopods was a simple worm-like creature that lived around 600 million years ago. This was long before vertebrates or complex brains evolved.

• Cephalopods represent an “independent experiment” in the evolution of intelligence. Their large brains and complex behavior evolved separately from those of vertebrates. This makes them an “alien” form of intelligence.

• The book takes a gradual, evolutionary view of the emergence of mind from matter. It seeks to explain how consciousness first arose in simple animals and evolved over time.

• The physical exploration of animals like cephalopods, and the practicalities of interacting with them in the water, has influenced the philosophical approach of the book.

• The book aims to explore the evolution of mind with both breadth, by considering different animals, and depth, by examining the vast timespans involved.

• While not resolving all the philosophical puzzles, the book seeks to make progress by charting how bodies, senses and behaviors evolved, with the emergence of mind situated somewhere within that process.

So in summary, the book examines the evolution of mind through an interesting case study - that of cephalopods and their divergence from our ancestral path. It uses an embodied, evolutionary approach that incorporates insights from both philosophy and biology.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

• Life on Earth began around 3.8 billion years ago, but animals didn’t appear until around 1 billion years ago. For most of Earth’s history, life was in the form of single-celled organisms in the oceans.

• Single-celled organisms could sense and react to their environment, which counts as a basic form of behavior. They had sensors to detect chemicals and movements to react.

• Bacteria like E.coli can detect favorable and unfavorable chemicals and move toward or away from them using flagella. This demonstrates a basic sensing and response system.

• Eukaryotic cells, which arose around 1.5 billion years ago, had more complex sensing and moving abilities. Some even had rudimentary forms of vision like “eyespots.”

• Single-celled organisms primarily sensed food, toxins and other cells. Some were sensitive to chemicals produced by other cells of the same kind, indicating the beginnings of signaling and communication.

• Quorum sensing allowed bacteria to detect how many of their kind were present and act accordingly, demonstrating social behavior.

• Animals evolved when cells became multicellular. The sensing and signaling between single cells then occurred within multicellular organisms to coordinate cells.

Does this look like a good summary of the key details and progression described in the text? Let me know if you need me to modify or expand the summary.

• Animals likely originated from a single cell that divided but did not separate properly. These clumps of cells may have floated together in the sea, eating bacteria and dividing.

• Two scenarios are proposed for the origin of animals. One suggests that the cells settled on the sea floor and evolved into sponges. Another suggests they evolved into comb jellies.

• Multicellular organisms require coordination between cells. Sensing and signaling capabilities that once allowed single cells to act independently became the basis for coordination in multicellular organisms.

• Nervous systems arose as a means for fast and targeted signaling between cells. Neurons use electrical and chemical means of communication.

• Two views exist on the purpose of nervous systems:

  1. The sensory-motor view: Nervous systems primarily link perception to action, guiding organisms’ responses to the environment.

  2. The intrinsic action view: Nervous systems also allow organisms to generate coordinated intrinsic actions from the micro-actions of individual cells. This is a difficult problem for multicellular organisms.

• In summary, while responding to the environment is still important, the ability to generate coordinated intrinsic actions may have been a more basic requirement for early nervous systems.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding early nervous systems:

• Early theories assumed that the first role of nervous systems was sensory-motor, linking sensation and action. More recently, researchers have argued that the initial role was likely coordinating internal actions to shape behavior.

• The first animals with nervous systems were likely soft-bodied creatures like jellyfish, around 700 million years ago based on genetic evidence. Few fossils exist from that era.

• Fossils from the Ediacaran period (~635 to 542 million years ago), discovered by Reg Sprigg in Australia, provide the earliest direct evidence of early animal life. They show life was abundant and diverse.

• Some Ediacaran creatures like Kimberella likely had the ability to move under their own power, suggesting they had nervous systems. Kimberella may have been an early mollusk.

• While some Ediacarans may have been early members of familiar animal groups, others had unusual body plans that did not persist in later animals, casting doubt on whether all Ediacarans were truly animals.

Does this look like a good summary of the key points regarding early nervous systems as presented in the text? Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify the summary in any way.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

  1. Ediacaran life appears to have been “peaceful” with little interaction or conflict between organisms. There is no evidence of predation, weaponry, or defensive structures.

  2. However, this “peaceful” label may be misleading as there could have been unseen chemical interactions between organisms.

  3. Ediacaran organisms seem to have had less developed sense organs and nervous systems for responding to their environment. Their nervous systems may have been more for internal coordination rather than sensory and motor control.

  4. The Cambrian Explosion brought the rise of many new animal groups with complex interactions like predation, tracking prey, and defending themselves.

  5. This Cambrian diversification was driven by evolutionary feedback between organisms interacting in new ways, especially through predation.

  6. Bilaterian animals, with their body plan and mobility, were instrumental in bringing about the behavioral revolution of the Cambrian. They had greater potential for complex behaviors.

  7. The most behaviorally sophisticated non-bilaterian animals are box jellyfish, which have complex eyes, navigation abilities, and lethal venom. But they still postdate the Cambrian.

  8. During the Cambrian, animals became part of each others’ environments in new ways, causing their nervous systems and behaviors to evolve in response to interactions with other organisms.

Does this cover the main themes in a concise manner? Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify the summary.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text discusses the evolution of nervous systems and behaviors in animals. During the Cambrian Period, sensory abilities and nervous systems became more sophisticated, allowing for complex behaviors.

Some key points:

• Eyes and vision are believed to have developed during the Cambrian, giving animals the ability to see distant objects and predators. This opened up new behavioral possibilities and evolutionary pressures.

• Arthropods like trilobites appear to have been early pioneers of complex behaviors. Fossils show possible trilobite precursors with hints of complex appendages.

• Animals with “complex active bodies” - those that could move quickly and manipulate objects - were limited to arthropods, chordates, and some mollusks.

• The text considers two possibilities for the evolution of nervous systems: they either originally served to coordinate actions, or they originally served sensory functions but took on a more active role during the Cambrian.

• The split between vertebrates and invertebrates (the “fork”) occurred before the Cambrian, allowing for the divergence of the two branches that includes humans and other animals.

In summary, the text argues that the Cambrian Period saw an “opening up” of animals to the sensory world around them through the development of eyes, nervous systems and complex behaviors. This allowed for new ecological interactions and evolutionary pressures that shaped the diversification of animal life.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  1. Octopuses are mollusks that evolved from shell-bearing ancestors. They trace their lineage back to early shelled animals that emerged in the Cambrian Period.

  2. Early cephalopods had a cap-like shell that protected them as they crawled on the sea floor. Some then took to the water column and gained buoyancy by filling their shells with gas. They developed jet propulsion and grasping tentacles.

  3. Cephalopods diversified and some became large predatory creatures. However, most went extinct, with the exception of the nautilus.

  4. Later, some cephalopods began abandoning their shells, which allowed for more movement and flexibility but also made them more vulnerable. Octopuses lost their shells entirely.

  5. The earliest definitive octopus fossil dates to around 164 million years ago. Today there are around 300 known octopus species.

  6. By forgoing skeleton and shell, octopuses have almost no hard parts and can change their shape drastically. This allowed them to evolve a “body of pure possibility.”

  7. The passage describes two octopuses that the author observed mating and hiding in rock crevices during storms.

That covers the major ideas covered in the lengthy passage in a summarized form. Let me know if you would like me to expand on or modify any part of this summary.

• Cephalopods like octopuses have large nervous systems and brains, compared to other invertebrates. Their brain to body size ratio is in the range of some vertebrates.

• However, comparing octopus intelligence to other animals is difficult due to differences in brain organization, sensory abilities, and behaviors.

• In lab experiments, octopuses show limited performance in learning and problem solving, progressing slowly.

• In contrast, anecdotes suggest octopuses are capable of adapting to unusual situations and using lab apparatuses in creative ways.

• Experiments in the 1950s found that while some octopuses were able to operate a lever to receive food, one octopus named Charles manipulated and damaged the equipment in unusual ways.

• The experimenter assumed Charles’s behavior must have been reinforced, but it likely reflected Charles’s individual temperament rather than learning.

• This highlighted the variability between individual octopuses, challenging the typical assumption of experiments that animals of a species are similar until shaped by rewards.

So in summary, while octopuses have large brains, reliably comparing their intelligence to other animals is difficult. Lab experiments find limited cognitive abilities, but anecdotes suggest more potential that octopuses struggle to show in controlled tests. Individual variability also seems substantial compared to many studied species.

Here is a summary of the key points in the provided text:

  1. Stories of octopuses turning off aquarium lights by squirting jets of water at the bulbs show intelligence. However, there are simpler explanations like octopuses not liking bright lights and squiring water at annoying things.

  2. Octopuses in captivity quickly learn to adapt to the special circumstances and recognize individual human keepers. They are aware of being kept in tanks.

  3. An octopus dumped food into the drain after the researcher walked by, showing it was capable of intentional actions.

  4. Octopuses tend to escape when keepers are not watching, indicating they track when they are being observed.

  5. Octopuses may not do well in some learning experiments because the tasks are unnatural. However, they can perform very unnatural behaviors like opening screw-cap jars.

  6. Early experiments on octopuses were often cruel, using electric shocks and surgery without anesthesia. Recently they have been treated better in line with animal welfare rules.

  7. Some octopuses show play behavior by interacting with objects just for the sake of it, like blowing pill bottles around their tank.

  8. Matthew Lawrence discovered a site with around a dozen octopuses living on a shell bed. The octopuses seemed accustomed to his presence.

Hope this summary helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

  1. The diver Matt discovered a site with an unusual concentration of octopuses, called Octopolis. The octopuses showed curiosity towards Matt and his equipment.

  2. The octopuses at the site engaged in interactions ranging from peaceful to aggressive wrestling matches. Some seemed to bully others.

  3. Over time, the octopuses became accustomed to Matt and seem to treat him differently than other humans. One octopus led Matt by the hand to its den.

  4. The biologist Christine Huffard was surprised to learn about Matt’s site so close to Sydney and visited it herself.

  5. The site is dense with complexes behaviors like octopuses eyeing each other from their dens and wrestling matches.

  6. The octopuses showed curiosity towards objects Matt brought to the site, like incorporating a plastic stake into a den.

  7. The author argues the octopus intelligence is flexible and opportunistic, using found objects like coconut shells as tools.

  8. The author says arthropods evolved complex behaviors through social coordination, while cephalopods like octopuses did so through an individual, non-social intelligence.

  9. The author discusses how octopus nervous systems evolved from a diffuse, distributed system of ganglia to one with a larger central brain. This differed from the centralized chordate design seen in vertebrates.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

Octopus brains are distinctly different from human brains in several ways. For example, their esophagus passes through their central brain, meaning objects that pierce their throat go into their brain.

Much of an octopus’s nervous system is found in its arms, not just its central brain. Each arm contains thousands of neurons to process touch and taste. The arms seem to enjoy some independence and have short-term memory.

However, octopuses can coordinate their arms when necessary, such as when hunting prey. Experiments show they can learn to guide a single arm through a maze to find food. So they have both localized arm control and top-down central control.

The large number of octopus neurons is likely due to their foraging style. Octopuses rove around hunting for prey that requires complex manipulation to subdue. This extractive foraging, like opening crab shells, likely posed evolutionary pressure for a larger brain.

The demands of hunting and avoiding predation themselves resemble “social” pressures that require tuning actions to what others can see.

The evolution of coordination within the octopus’s unwieldy and complex body may have also driven the expansion of its nervous system, to organize the many degrees of freedom in its arms. Octopuses have solved this problem with a mix of local and central control.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text discusses the evolution of subjective experience and consciousness in animals, especially octopuses. It argues for a gradualist, intermediate view where complex capacities like perception, memory and consciousness develop from simpler precursors.

Some key points:

  1. William James advocated a “continuity” view where the mind develops through intermediate forms in different organisms. Consciousness likely emerged gradually, not suddenly.

  2. Things like perception, memory and action likely evolved in a continuous way from simple sensitivities to the environment to more complex forms. There are no clear divides.

  3. However, subjective experience - what it’s like to be an organism - seems different. It’s unclear how an animal could be “halfway” to having subjective experience.

  4. The text aims to make progress on understanding the evolution of subjective experience. It argues subjective experience is the most basic phenomenon that needs explaining - what it means to “explain consciousness.”

  5. Theories of embodied cognition, while illuminating in some ways, fail to fully capture the strange nature of the octopus’s body and mind. The octopus seems “disembodied” and outside the usual body/brain divide.

In summary, the text advocates a gradualist, intermediate view of the evolution of complex capacities like perception, memory and consciousness. But it acknowledges the challenges in applying this view to subjective experience and “what it’s like” to be an organism.

  1. The author argues that consciousness and subjective experience are not the same thing. Consciousness is one form of subjective experience, but there are other forms of experience that are not conscious.

  2. The author uses the example of pain to illustrate this. Even animals like squid and lobsters may have some form of subjective experience of pain, even if they are not conscious in the way humans are. This is what the author calls sentience.

  3. Sentience does not come from a soul or spiritual substance, but from the evolution of sensing and acting. It involves having a point of view on the world.

  4. Even bacteria sense and react to their environment, but the author argues there is something more in animals that gives them subjective experience.

  5. The author argues that loops between sensing and acting, where one affects the other, are important for subjective experience. This is illustrated with the example of tactile vision substitution systems for the blind.

  6. The author argues that philosophers have traditionally focused more on sensory input than on the role of action and the effect action has on what we subsequently sense.

  7. In summary, the key idea is that the feedback loops between sensing and acting, and the effect actions have on subsequent sensory input, are important for animal subjective experience and sentience.

Does this adequately summarize the main points in the text for you? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on anything.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

  1. Perceptual constancies evolve independently in different animal groups, indicating they evolved over time.

  2. Integration of information from different senses into a unified experience also evolves over time. Some animals have less integration than humans.

  3. Experiments show that some animals do not transfer visual information between eyes or parts of the brain easily. This indicates their experiences are more fragmented.

  4. Split-brain experiments in humans show that when connections between brain hemispheres are cut, the two sides can have different experiences and skills.

  5. Birds weave their gaze to give different parts of the eye access to objects, indicating fragmented visual processing.

  6. Unity of experience is not inevitable - it is something that evolution achieves over time.

  7. Case studies of brain-damaged patients indicate that visual processing can occur without conscious visual experience. This suggests experience may be an “afterthought” that evolved later.

  8. Milner and Goodale’s research on two visual streams in the brain suggests that only the ventral stream produces conscious visual experience, while the dorsal stream operates unconsciously.

In summary, the text argues that subjective experience - including perceptual integration and unity - evolves gradually over time through incremental changes in the brain and nervous system, though some evidence suggests experience may be a “latecomer” that came after basic sensing and acting capacities evolved.

  1. The experiment with frog visions showed that parts of the frog’s visual system were rewired, causing prey to appear on the left when it was actually on the right, and vice versa.

  2. However, this did not affect all aspects of the frog’s vision. The frogs navigated obstacles normally, suggesting separate visual streams for different tasks.

  3. Milner and Goodale argue that the frog does not have a unified representation of the world. There are separate sensory streams, so there is no single thing the frog “sees.”

  4. Some researchers argue that simpler animals like frogs do not have subjective experiences. Their visual systems lack features that give rise to experience in humans.

  5. Researchers like Dehaene argue that consciousness requires mechanisms like a global workspace or working memory. These only emerged late in evolution, so only complex brains like ours could give rise to experience. This is the “latecomer” view.

  6. The author proposes a “transformation” view, where a basic form of experience predates these complex mechanisms. They transformed but did not create experience.

  7. Bodily feelings like pain and thirst seem like they could exist without sophisticated cognitive processing, suggesting experience predates late-arising mechanisms. Evidence from fish supports the idea that simple animals can feel pain.

That covers the main points regarding frog vision, the debates over experience in animals, and the latecomer vs transformation views of the origins of experience. Let me know if you need any clarification or expansion on these summary points.

  1. The study shows that injured chickens choose food containing painkillers even when it’s less preferred. Researchers have found similar results in hermit crabs.

  2. This suggests that animals besides humans may experience pain and other forms of subjective experience. But skepticism remains.

  3. The author describes the idea of simple forms of subjective experience evolving into more complex forms in advanced nervous systems.

  4. The metaphor of “white noise” is used to represent the earliest forms of experience, which were inchoate and undifferentiated.

  5. Subjective experience seems to be linked to perception and control, helping organisms detect what matters and respond.

  6. Multiple origins of experience likely occurred independently in different animal lineages.

  7. Octopuses show exploratory and opportunistic behaviors, have perceptual constancies, and can factor out changes in visual input, suggesting some level of consciousness. However, their experience remains alien and difficult to understand.

In summary, the author argues that rudimentary forms of subjective experience likely first evolved in early animals with nervous systems, and more complex consciousness emerged later in certain lineages. The octopus may exemplify an unusual form of consciousness evolved independently.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  1. Octopuses display perceptual constancy, though the evidence for this is limited. This shows they have some sophistication in how they perceive objects.

  2. Octopuses are good navigators, following looping paths as they forage and then returning to their dens. However, it is unclear how they do this navigation.

  3. Compared to our common worm-like ancestor, octopuses have relatively advanced visual and cognitive abilities.

  4. The evidence for pain in octopuses is mixed. While some octopuses tend to injured areas, others do not and seem unaffected by minor injuries.

  5. The distributed nature of the octopus nervous system means its arms have some autonomy. This gives octopus experience a hybrid quality, with both self and non-self elements.

  6. The author compares this to how humans sometimes assert voluntary control over normally involuntary actions like breathing. For octopuses, central control of the arms is never complete.

  7. The author considers if the distinction between self and environment may be blurred for octopuses, though a critic argues humans have similar fast, unconscious adjustments that also blur this distinction.

In summary, the passage discusses the sensory, cognitive and experiential aspects of octopus abilities, highlighting how their unique distributed nervous system affects these domains in interesting and unusual ways.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding how giant cuttlefish make colors:

• Giant cuttlefish have the ability to rapidly change colors through color-producing cells and structures in their skin.

• The main color-producing cells are chromatophores, which contain sacs of colored chemicals that can be stretched or relaxed to expose or hide the color. The chromatophores are controlled by muscles attached to the brain.

• Each chromatophore contains only one color, either red, yellow, or brown in giant cuttlefish.

• Chromatophores alone cannot produce all the colors a cuttlefish displays. Reflecting cells called iridophores and leucophores produce blues, greens, and silvers through reflection and filtering of light.

• The layers of skin with chromatophores act like a 10 megapixel color screen that the cuttlefish brain controls. The pixels are clustered rather than fully independent.

• The reflecting cells below the chromatophores add further complexity and colors.

• Reds seem to be the “base” colors that giant cuttlefish most commonly display, with whites, yellows, and greens appearing in patches on top.

• Giant cuttlefish can produce dynamic, moving patterns of colors and shapes on their skin.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  1. Cuttlefish have the ability to rapidly change their color and skin patterns to communicate, camouflage and express moods. They can produce intricate patterns and colors using specialized skin cells called chromatophores.

  2. The passage describes several interactions the author had with different cuttlefish. Some cuttlefish were curious and friendly, reaching out to touch the author. Others reacted with intense hostility, producing aggressive displays.

  3. The passage describes two cuttlefish in particular detail: Matisse, who had an affinity for producing sudden blasts of yellow color, and Kandinsky, who produced elaborate and extravagant patterns.

  4. The final section describes an encounter with an especially hostile male cuttlefish that displayed aggressive colors and arm shapes in an attempt to scare the author away. The cuttlefish eventually calmed down when the author waved his arms back at it.

In summary, the passage focuses on the impressive camouflaging and signaling abilities of cuttlefish, and how their behavior and interactions with humans varied from curious and friendly to intensely aggressive. The vivid descriptions highlight the creativity and individual personalities of different cuttlefish.

  1. Some cuttlefish behave with a level of indifference towards humans that is extreme and hard to describe. They seem to not recognize humans as living beings at all.

  2. These cuttlefish ignore humans even when humans are very close, as if humans don’t fully exist in their world.

  3. Cephalopods are able to change color for camouflage but are generally considered colorblind.

  4. Researchers have proposed that cephalopods use subtle brightness differences and reflecting cells to match colors they can’t actually see.

  5. Recent research has found that photoreceptor molecules are present in the skin of some octopuses. This suggests their skin may be able to detect light.

  6. While this indicates the whole body may be able to “see”, it does not solve the problem of how cephalopods perceive color with only one type of photoreceptor.

  7. The author speculates that modulation from chromatophores or information about which chromatophores are expanded may allow a single photoreceptor to behave like two, enabling color vision.

  8. Octopuses are unsurpassed at camouflage and can be completely invisible to an observer close by.

How’s that? Let me know if you need any part summarized in a different way or would like me to expand on anything.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

• Octopuses and cuttlefish use color changes for camouflage and signaling. Octopuses can assume nearly any shape for effective camouflage.

• The author witnessed a reaper cuttlefish that camouflaged itself as a rock to evade detection. However, it was then attacked by a moray eel. Surprisingly, the cuttlefish escaped with only minor injuries.

• Cuttlefish color changes evolved originally for camouflage. Some species then developed signaling systems using colors.

• The author believes some cuttlefish color patterns are inadvertent expressions of their internal states, rather than for camouflage or communication. He thinks these patterns do not significantly harm the cuttlefish due to their large size.

• The author speculates that the cuttlefish may use low-level color changes to survey their chromatic environment. Some color displays may be triggered by the author’s presence as an observer.

• In summary, the text discusses various functions of camouflage and color changes in cuttlefish, from effective camouflage to potentially self-expressive patterns driven by the cuttlefish’s internal states. The author questions whether all color changes serve an evolutionary purpose.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

• Both baboons and cuttlefish have sophisticated systems for communication and signaling. But they differ in important ways.

• Baboons have a simple vocal system with only a few calls. But they can interpret the calls in complex ways to infer information about social hierarchies and changes.

• Cuttlefish have a vastly complex visual signaling system with many patterns and colors. But there is little evidence they can interpret each other’s signals in complex ways.

• The baboons have simple signal production but complex signal interpretation. The cuttlefish have the opposite - complex signal production but likely simple interpretation.

• Researchers observed that cuttlefish produce many complex and varied displays even though their social interactions seem relatively simple. The purpose of much of the “chromatic chatter” is unclear.

• The text describes an experience where the author watches a cuttlefish producing a mesmerizing array of rust, gray and green colors, suggesting an “ongoing chromatic chatter” as part of its nature.

So in summary, the key theme is the contrast between the baboons’ simple production but complex interpretation, versus the cuttlefish’s complex production but possibly simple interpretation. Both represent “unfinished” or partial systems that are asymmetric between production and interpretation roles.

Hope this summary helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Here is a summarized version:

  • When Hume looked inside his mind, he found a succession of sensations and perceptions but did not mention two things: the combined sensations at each time and the inner speech or monologue that accompanies conscious life.

  • Hume’s inattention to inner speech may have been due to his agenda of creating a physics-like theory of the mind where ideas behave like mental atoms, irrelevant to inner speech. Dewey said Hume’s “ideas” were likely successions of silently uttered words.

  • Vygotsky thought that inner speech develops through internalizing ordinary speech and becomes an organizing tool for complex thought. He believed inner speech has its own patterns and rhythms.

  • Vygotsky developed his theories in Soviet Russia but his work was not influential in the West until the 1960s. He died at age 37 in 1934.

  • There is debate on the psychological role of inner speech, ranging from idle commentary to an important cognitive tool, as Vygotsky argued.

That summarizes the key points about Hume’s view, Vygotsky’s theory of inner speech development, and the debate surrounding inner speech’s role.

Here is a summary of the key points in the response:

  1. Arwin claimed that language, either inner or outer speech, is needed for complex thought. The response argues that while language can be helpful, it is not essential for complex thinking.

  2. Evidence from animals like baboons and birds suggests they are capable of complex thoughts and strategies without using language.

  3. Köhler’s work with chimpanzees showed they could solve novel problems through “insight,” indicating complex thinking that did not rely on language.

  4. Studies of deaf people and the case of “Brother John,” who experienced episodes of aphasia, suggest humans can still think complexly even without language.

  5. While language provides a tool for organizing and manipulating ideas, it is not the medium of complex thought.

  6. Research on children suggests they need words like “or” to perform certain logical operations, showing the importance of language.

  7. The role of inner speech in complex thought is proposed to involve “efference copies,” where an internal representation of planned speech is compared to the actual spoken words for monitoring and control.

  8. Inner speech through efference copies may have taken on a role beyond just speech control and become incorporated into complex thinking processes.

So in summary, while recognizing the importance of language and inner speech, the response argues they are tools that facilitate but are not essential for complex thinking in humans and other animals.

Here’s a summary of the key roles of inner speech:

  1. Executive control - Inner speech gives us a way to perform actions in the correct order and exert top-down control over our impulses and habits.

  2. Experimentation - Inner speech allows us to mentally combine ideas to see what results, helping us think through possibilities.

  3. System 2 thinking - Inner speech is a form of slow, deliberate thinking used when facing novel situations, as opposed to intuitive System 1 thinking.

  4. Avoiding temptation - Inner speech can take the form of mental arguments against temptation.

  5. Integrated thought - Inner speech exposes ideas to the same processing as spoken words, allowing for integration and consideration of novel combinations.

  6. A tool for complex thought - Along with imagery, inner speech is a tool that enables humans to engage in sophisticated thinking.

  7. Contributing to consciousness - Inner speech and imagery shape subjective experience and contribute to our ability to integrate information and think consciously about novel situations.

Does that cover the main points in a fairly concise way? Let me know if you’d like me to expand on or modify anything in the summary.

  1. Inner speech provides a way for information to be processed and assessed in the mind. It allows ideas to be organized and structured.

  2. The author does not claim inner speech is the only mechanism involved in conscious thought. But he argues it is part of the explanation.

  3. Higher-order thought - thinking about one’s own thoughts - has been seen as important for subjectivity and consciousness. The author disputes that it is essential for all experience, but says it is an important part of the especially vivid forms of conscious thought in humans.

  4. Inner speech helps enable higher-order thought. We can reflect on our inner states by forming questions, comments and exhortations in inner speech. This helps us do things we otherwise could not.

  5. The internalization of language as a tool for thinking, like the earlier internalization of cell signaling into the nervous system, changed the course of human evolution.

  6. Internalized language allowed for reafferent loops - acting now to perceive something useful later. This gave rise to abilities like using writing as an external memory.

  7. These reafferent loops bridge the two roles of communication: coordinating perception and action, and coordinating different components of an action.

So in summary, inner speech contributes to human conscious thought by enabling higher-order thinking and the formation of reafferent loops through language and writing.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

Cephalopods like cuttlefish and octopuses have very short lifespans, typically only 1-2 years despite their large brains and complex behaviors. This raises questions about why they have evolved such large brains if they live such short lives, since learning and intelligence depend on sufficient lifespan.

A number of possibilities are considered for why cephalopods live so short but are ruled out. It is not something about the ocean environment or about their mollusk body plan, since other related cephalopods like nautiluses live much longer.

The short lifespan makes the rich experience of cephalopods seem incredibly compressed into a short time. Their lives seem extra poignant given how quickly they decline and die.

The author then raises the general question of why some organisms like trees and bacteria live indefinitely while others age and die. Simple explanations in terms of bodies “wearing out” are insufficient since cells are constantly replenished. The arrangement of cells can break down but new cells should in theory be able to remake the right arrangement. There are also counterexamples to the idea that metabolic rate determines lifespan.

In summary, the text discusses the puzzling phenomenon of short cephalopod lifespans in contrast to their large brains, explores possible explanations, and uses this to raise broader questions about biological aging and death.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

  • Animals age at different rates for reasons that are not fully understood. Evolutionarily, there is no clear benefit for animals to age and die.

  • In the 1940s and 1950s, scientists Peter Medawar and George Williams developed an evolutionary theory of aging. Later, William Hamilton formalized the theory mathematically.

  • The Medawar-Williams theory posits two main reasons why aging evolved:

  1. Mutations that have harmful effects later in life are likely to accumulate in a population because most individuals die from other causes before those mutations express themselves. Over time, this leads to aging and declining health at advanced ages.

  2. Mutations that provide benefits early in life but have harmful effects later can still spread in a population because most individuals will not live long enough for the harmful late-life effects to matter. This also contributes to aging.

  • Positive feedback loops then cause these processes to reinforce each other and further accelerate aging.

  • However, there are exceptions like trees that do not seem to age. Trees avoid aging due to their ability to reproduce late in life and their fundamental biological differences from animals.

So in summary, the text outlines the evolutionary Medawar-Williams theory of aging, which argues that aging is an unintended consequence of natural selection acting on mutations that predominantly impact early versus late life.

  1. Some organisms like sea anemone colonies and human societies are not subject to evolutionary arguments about aging since they are composed of multiple individuals that can reproduce independently.

  2. Organisms that grow by multiplication of units that can reproduce independently, like trees, are also exempt from those arguments to some extent.

  3. The evolutionary theory of aging explains why organisms show signs of breakdown later in life. Those that don’t reproduce lose protective adaptations.

  4. Within animals, there are semelparous organisms that reproduce once then die, and iteroparous ones that reproduce multiple times.

  5. Semelparity makes sense when the adult stage is risky, so concentrating all reproductive effort into one season is optimal.

  6. Cephalopods tend towards semelparity because losing their shells made them very vulnerable to predators. This compress their lifespan by the Medawar-Williams effects.

  7. Cephalopods ended up with large nervous systems due to the possibilities of their flexible bodies and need to hunt effectively, but with short lives due to their vulnerability.

That covers the major points regarding the evolutionary theory of aging, semelparity, and how these factors relate to cephalopods. Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on anything here!

Here is a summary of the provided excerpt:

The author describes an “Octopolis” site off the east coast of Australia where they observe and study octopuses. Multiple octopuses are often present at the site, interacting and roaming around an area just a few yards across. The numbers fluctuate over time but octopuses are always present.

When the site was first discovered in 2009, the author began regularly observing the octopuses there. On busier days, they have counted over a dozen octopuses.

At first, the author thought there was one dominant octopus that commanded the site, potentially with a harem of females. However, they found that multiple males were often present, though spaced apart from each other.

Determining the sex of an octopus is difficult without interfering with it. Male octopuses have a groove under their third right arm which is used during mating to pass a packet of sperm to the female. Females often store the sperm for a period of time.

In summary, the excerpt describes an underwater site with a large aggregation of octopuses that has provided the author an opportunity to observe and study octopus behavior.

  • The researchers are studying the behavior of octopuses at a site they call Octopolis. They observe the octopuses without interfering or handling them.

  • They use underwater cameras to record the octopuses’ behavior when researchers are not present. The octopuses behave similarly whether researchers are there or not.

  • They observed that some octopuses, especially large males, are aggressive and chase off other octopuses. One particularly aggressive male seemed to police the site and herd females into dens.

  • The octopuses change colors during interactions. Aggressive octopuses turn dark and raise their mantle in a threatening “Nosferatu” pose. Submissive octopuses display pale, blotchy patterns.

  • The site bears some similarities to a controversial report from Panama in 1982 of striped octopuses living in groups and sharing dens. This was later confirmed when specimens turned up in aquariums in 2012.

In summary, the researchers are studying a population of octopuses that exhibits some uncommon social behaviors, including aggression, dominance hierarchies, and use of color signals during interactions.

• Octopolis is an unusual site where octopuses appear to be more social than normal, interacting and sharing dens. This is atypical behavior for octopuses.

• The site was likely “seeded” when a metal object was dropped there, providing a safe place for an octopus to make a den.

• Octopuses brought in scallops to eat and left behind the shells, which accumulated and allowed for more dens to be built. This created a positive feedback loop that attracted more octopuses.

• The site offers octopuses protection from predators like sharks, rays, and fish but also abundant food in the form of scallops.

• The accumulated shells have created stable dens and an “artificial reef” that attracts other species like fish, squid, and stingrays.

• The unusual context at Octopolis has likely led octopuses to develop novel and opportunistic behaviors to manage their lives there. This suggests octopuses may be more flexible and social than previously thought.

• The interactions and complex environment at Octopolis may have helped stimulate the evolution of the octopuses’ large brains and intelligence.

The key takeaways are that the site provides unusual benefits and risks that have forced the octopuses to adapt in social and innovative ways, providing insights into their cognitive abilities and flexibility. The accumulation of shells through their activities has transformed the environment and their own lives.

  1. The evolution of large brains occurred independently along several paths within vertebrates and cephalopods. Within vertebrates, mammals are not the only ones with intelligence - birds like parrots and crows also evolved larger brains.

  2. The split between octopuses and squid/cuttlefish occurred much earlier than previously thought - around 270 million years ago, not 170 million years ago. This suggests that complex nervous systems may have evolved separately in octopuses and squid/cuttlefish.

  3. Genetic evidence shows that the molecules used to build nervous systems have diversified separately in octopuses and squid, further supporting the idea of separate brain evolution in these two cephalopod groups.

  4. While we know more about octopus cognition, evidence suggests that cuttlefish also have considerable brainpower and memory abilities.

In summary, the key takeaways are that large brains likely evolved independently multiple times within different animal groups. In cephalopods, octopuses and squid/cuttlefish appear to have separately evolved their complex nervous systems and intelligence, contrary to previous theories of a single “accidental” brain evolution event.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  1. The studies of episodic-like memory in cuttlefish show that complex cognition evolved independently in cephalopods. It is an example of parallel evolution within different lineages.

  2. Octopuses and cuttlefish represent sub-experiments within the larger experiment of the evolution of intelligence. Their relationship is analogous to that of mammals and birds.

  3. The minds of octopuses and humans evolved separately but in a similar aquatic environment. The oceans made the evolution of intelligence possible.

  4. The oceans face serious threats like overfishing and chemical changes due to human activities. These threats are difficult to recognize and tackle due to the inherently invisible nature of marine environments.

  5. Huxley was wrong in claiming that important fisheries were inexhaustible despite advances in fishing technology that he did not foresee. Overfishing began in the 19th century and continues today.

  6. The oceans are becoming more acidic due to absorption of excess CO2 from the atmosphere, affecting the organisms that make hard parts from calcium carbonate.

  7. The causes of large-scale environmental problems like colony collapse disorder in bees are complex and involve interactions of multiple factors on a global scale.

That cover the key points made about the cuttlefish studies, the evolution of intelligence in cephalopods and vertebrates, threats to the oceans, and the difficulty of understanding environmental problems in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

They are starting to get a handle on what’s going on with the bees. There is no single factor causing the issues. Over many years, small stresses have built up in the lives of bees: more pollutants, new microorganisms, less habitat. For a while, the bees were able to cope by working harder. Their ability to absorb these stresses was slowly worn out. Eventually their tolerance reached a critical point and bee colonies started failing dramatically.

The author applies this analogy to the ocean. The ocean’s ability to absorb human stress is vast but not unlimited. It absorbs stresses in ways that are hard to see. In some places, it has been pushed too far, resulting in “dead zones” where few animals can survive due to loss of oxygen. These dead zones have expanded in size due to human impacts like fertilizer runoff from farms.

In summary, both bees and the ocean have a large capacity to deal with human impacts. But over time, as small stresses accumulate, they reach critical thresholds where their ability to cope is exceeded and dramatic failures ensue.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text discusses the evolution of multicellularity and nervous systems in the context of major transitions in the history of life. It mentions that transitions to multicellularity have occurred multiple times independently in different groups, from prokaryotes to eukaryotes.

There is debate about which group of animals branched off first in animal evolution - sponges or ctenophores. However, the author argues that this does not necessarily mean our common ancestor resembled a sponge or ctenophore.

Nervous systems enabled action at a distance through signaling and the generation of action potentials. However, there are different views on the primary function of early nervous systems - some argue they evolved for sensory-motor control, while others see them as enabling new forms of internal coordination.

The earliest animals like those found in the Ediacaran period, such as Kimberella, may have shown the first signs of nervous systems. However, interpreting these fossils is challenging and controversial.

In summary, the text discusses the major evolutionary transitions of multicellularity and nervous systems in the history of life. There are ongoing debates about the details of these transitions and the interpretation of key fossil evidence.

Here is a summary of the key points in the provided text:

  1. Cephalopods like octopuses are mollusks. Their ancestors first appeared in the Cambrian Period, over 500 million years ago. Early cephalopods were simple marine animals.

  2. Cephalopods evolved complex behaviors and large brains. An octopus has around 500 million neurons, closer in number to some mammals and birds than other invertebrates. This indicates a high level of intelligence.

  3. Octopuses have demonstrated complex learning abilities and problem-solving skills in experiments. They have learned to turn lights off in aquariums by shooting jets of water at the light bulbs.

  4. The ability of cephalopods to manipulate objects with their flexible limbs and develop diverse behavioral repertoires likely drove the evolution of their large brains and complex nervous systems.

  5. While octopus intelligence shares some similarities with that of vertebrates, it likely evolved independently due to convergent evolution. However, mapping octopus cognition is difficult due to their divergent anatomical and physiological makeup.

In summary, the text discusses how cephalopods, and octopuses in particular, display high intelligence and complex behaviors despite exhibiting very different anatomy and physiology compared to vertebrates. The evolution of their flexible bodies and behavioral flexibility is hypothesized to have driven the development of their large brains and sophisticated cognition.

  1. Octopuses are intelligent invertebrates with complex behaviors and problem-solving abilities. Researchers have observed octopuses playing, using tools, and modifying their environments.

  2. The octopus nervous system is very different from most other invertebrates. It has a large, complex brain and distributed intelligence across its arms. Each arm contains neural circuits that can operate independently.

  3. The evolution of intelligence in cephalopods likely stemmed from the demands of foraging for hidden and embedded food resources. Their camera-like eyes and systems for learning from reward and punishment also contributed.

  4. The octopus mind evolved independently from vertebrates. While vertebrates and cephalopods both have camera eyes, their nervous systems developed along different paths.

  5. Researchers suggest that the octopus “embodied mind” is closely tied to its body and environment, rather than just its brain. Its widely distributed nervous system allows it to integrate inputs from its arms and senses.

In short, octopuses have evolved a unique and highly sophisticated form of intelligence that arises from the interplay of their complex nervous system, sensory abilities and physical interactions with their environment. The extreme differences from other invertebrates make them a fascinating case study for questions about the evolution of the mind.

Here is a summary of the key points in the excerpt:

  1. The author argues that subjective experience emerges gradually through evolution, not as an all-or-nothing phenomenon. Organisms with more complex sensory systems and more integrated processing tend to have richer forms of experience.

  2. Simple organisms like fish and invertebrates show evidence of rudimentary experiences like pain. But their experiences are likely limited compared to humans.

  3. The coupling of perception and action, and the ability to perceive perceptual constancies, correlate with the emergence of more complex forms of experience. Organisms with more integrated and bilateral nervous systems tend to have richer subjective experiences.

  4. The author suggests there were likely three major transitions associated with the origins and evolution of experience: with the first vertebrates, in the Cambrian explosion, and with the emergence of mammals.

  5. The author rejects panpsychism, which claims that all matter has some form of primitive experience. Instead, he argues that experience emerges gradually through biological evolution as organisms develop more integrated sensory and nervous systems.

That’s a high-level summary of the key points and arguments presented regarding the origins and evolution of subjective experience, according to the author’s perspective. Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify the summary in any way.

Here is a summary of the relevant points regarding mpix and octopus cognition:

• Researchers Gabriella Wolff and Nicholas Strausfeld argue that the most recent common ancestor of vertebrates and arthropods (like insects) had an “executive brain” that controlled choices of action. This suggests similarities between modern vertebrate and arthropod brains.

• However, cephalopod mollusks (like octopuses) seem to have evolved a novel brain design independently. Their behavior appears complex and driven by computational networks that evolved separately.

• This means the common ancestor of octopuses and insects had an executive brain that octopuses later discarded and replaced with a new design.

• Some experiments in the 1950s showed that octopuses can learn visual shape discrimination, though this work was not subsequently followed up on.

• More recent studies found that octopuses exhibit wound-directed behaviors in response to arm injuries, suggesting they may experience pain. Even without parts of their “smartest” brain lobes, they still showed these pain-related behaviors.

• This implies either octopuses experience pain differently, or they represent body awareness and pain somewhere else in their nervous system.

• There are also analogies with invisible but present processes in human brains, like the subconscious adjustments involved in reaching that do not depend on vision of the hand.

• The complex color changing ability of cephalopods likely evolved from camouflage functions but was co-opted for communication and signaling over time.

Does this look like an adequate summary of the main points regarding mpix and octopus cognition in the provided text? Let me know if you need any clarification or would like me to expand or modify the summary.

Here is a summary of the key points in the provided text:

  1. The text discusses Vygotsky’s theory of sociocultural development which suggests that social interaction and cultural tools like language play an important role in cognitive development. Researchers like Andy Clark have endorsed Vygotsky’s views.

  2. Studies on scrub jays and aphasiac monk Brother John suggest that language can enable higher cognitive abilities. However, the exact relationship between language and thought is debated.

  3. Some experiments show that children only succeed on certain cognitive tasks after acquiring relevant linguistic concepts. However, the data are not conclusive.

  4. The text proposes that inner speech, which develops from externalized speech, enables systematic thinking. It may originate from efferent copies produced during outward speech.

  5. Inner speech allows for a “workspace” for System 2 thinking. It enables the complex inner monologues of conscious experience.

  6. The concept of efferent copies, produced to compensate for self-generated movements, is introduced to explain perceptual constancy and other phenomena. Efferent copies may have played a role in the evolution of consciousness.

  7. The last section briefly discusses theories of aging and senescence with references to work by Medawar, Williams, and Hamilton.

Does this cover the main points adequately? Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify any part of the summary.

Here is a summary of the key points in the provided text:

  1. The author watches and studies octopuses at a site they refer to as “Octopolis.” They observe that groups of octopuses tend to gather at this site, which is unusual behavior for octopuses.

  2. Reports of octopuses gathering in groups have been rare, so this site offers a unique opportunity to study octopus behavior.

  3. The author and their colleagues believe the octopuses at this site behave similarly whether divers are present or not, though they can’t be entirely sure since the cameras themselves are a temporary addition.

  4. Male octopuses at this site have been observed temporarily tolerating each other’s presence, likely driven by access to food resources. However, full social behavior has not been observed.

  5. Female octopuses have very short lifespans, as they die after laying and protecting their eggs. This leads to a “high turnover” of octopuses at the site, with new individuals moving in as others die off.

  6. The short lifespans of octopuses, particularly females, may limit the development of complex social behaviors. Their evolutionary history has tuned their lifespan for rapid reproduction, predator avoidance, and access to food, rather than social cooperation.

In summary, the text discusses how the observed groupings of octopuses at this site offer a unique opportunity to study potential social behavior in octopuses, though complex sociality appears to be limited by their short lifespans and life history. The gatherings seem to be driven primarily by access to shelter and food resources.

can you tell me more specifically about the text’s treatment of Africa? Here are some relevant details:

• The text mentions Africa very briefly in the summary of Scheel and Packer’s 1991 study on group hunting behavior in lions. The summary states: “Summarize: Africa: See, for example, Scheel and Packer, “Group Hunting Behavior of Lions: A Search for Cooperation,” Animal Behaviour 41, no. 4 (1991): 697–709.”

• Beyond this brief mention, the text does not contain any substantial discussion of Africa. The study on lions in Africa is used as an example to demonstrate a broader point about cooperation and group hunting behavior.

• The focus of the text is primarily on cephalopod cognition, intelligence, and behavior. It discusses research studies of octopuses, cuttlefish, and squid, as well as evolutionary theory related to cephalopods.

So in summary, Africa is referenced very briefly and tangentially in the context of a study on lion behavior. However, the text itself does not contain a treatment of Africa as a central topic or focus. The focus remains on cephalopod cognition and intelligence. I hope this clarifies how Africa is portrayed in the text, but please let me know if you have any other questions!

• Cephalopods like cuttlefish and octopuses have remarkable behaviors and qualities, despite their shortened lifespans. Their intelligence and complex abilities show in their color change and tool use.

• Cephalopods and humans have a common ancestor but evolved along different paths. Their nervous systems operate differently, though they show parallel abilities.

• Octopuses and other cephalopods use their arms, eyes, camouflage, and jet propulsion for mobility and interaction with their environment. Their color change, while mostly for camouflage, also serves as a form of communication and expression.

• The evolution of cephalopod intelligence and abilities is likely due to a combination of factors like their body plan, nervous system, sensory abilities, and environmental pressures.

• Humans’ complex thought, consciousness, language and memory set us apart, though cephalopods show elements of cognition, learning, and sentience in their behaviors.

• Cephalopods and humans began interacting as humans studied cephalopod behavior, intelligence and longevity. Their abilities and alien nature fascinate and engage researchers.

Does this look like a reasonable summary of the key points regarding cephalopod behavior, evolution and intelligence compared to humans? Let me know if you’d like me to modify or expand the summary.

Hello, thank you for sharing your summary. Here is my attempt at improving the clarity and flow:

Peter Godfrey-Smith’s book, Other Minds, investigates the nature of cephalopod intelligence and consciousness through the lens of octopus biology. He argues that despite their evolutionary divergence from humans, octopuses exhibit many traits suggesting sophisticated cognition and awareness.

Cephalopod nervous systems differ drastically from those of vertebrates. They have a decentralized “double brain” architecture, with many neurons distributed throughout their arms. Cephalopods also rely heavily on spatial and sensory-motor coordination mediated by these distributed neurons.

Octopuses in particular display striking cognitive abilities. They show problem-solving, tool use, short-term memory, and object permanence. Octopuses also display complex behaviors like pigmentary camouflage, deception, and play. These traits indicate the potential for octopuses to have inner subjective experiences that, while alien, may share similarities with human consciousness.

However, our concepts of intelligence, mind, and consciousness evolved to describe human thought. Applying them to octopuses requires acknowledging both their differences from and resonances with us. This reveals fresh perspectives on the origins of cognition as well as how experience and perception shape our mental lives.

Overall, Godfrey-Smith argues that studying octopus intelligence shows how consciousness can arise in novel forms beyond traditional notions of the “human mind.” Examining how minds emerge in evolution reveals the expansive potential for subjective awareness that underlies different types of intelligence throughout the natural world.

Here is a summary of the key details in the provided text:

• The book examines the relationship between humans and cephalopods, specifically octopuses. It explores questions of consciousness, intelligence, and the evolution of the nervous system.

• Chapter 1 introduces the topic with two anecdotes of encounters between humans and octopuses. It then provides an outline of the book.

• Chapter 2 discusses the history of life on Earth, from the earliest single-celled organisms to the evolution of neurons and nervous systems. It covers the evolution of senses and the split between cephalopods and other mollusks.

• Chapter 3 focuses on octopuses, describing their intelligence, puzzling behaviors, and nervous system. It compares their nervous system evolution with that of vertebrates and discusses how octopuses achieve similar cognitive abilities through different means.

• Chapter 4 examines the concept of consciousness, how it may have evolved, and whether octopuses possess a rudimentary form of consciousness.

• Chapter 5 describes the color-changing abilities of giant cuttlefish and how cephalopods perceive and create visual displays. It compares this to color vision in primates.

• The book also discusses concepts like empathy, theorizes about the lives and deaths of octopuses, and describes octopuses living together in “Octopolis.”

In summary, the book uses the lens of cephalopods to explore questions about the emergence of consciousness, intelligence, and behavior in animals, comparing and contrasting the evolution of invertebrates with that of vertebrates.

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