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Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness

3.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226308654
ISBN-10: 0226308650
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Do animals think? According to Cartesian models of science that have long influenced the Western view of the natural world, they do not: they merely react to external stimuli, the responses to which they cannot control.

A different view has emerged in recent years, one that draws on findings from experimental psychology, biology, linguistics, and cognitive ethology. Writes Donald Griffin, an associate at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, "Communicative behavior is not a human monopoly." Animal communication--from the dance language of the bees to the vocalisms of parrots and bonobos--suggests that there is more than a ghost in the machine. For underlying that communicative ability are other powers that humans have no easy way of gauging: a sense of time and futurity, a complex memory, an ability to lie, even consciousness itself.

Griffin examines recent studies that show that many species are able to discern and classify colors, shapes, materials, and "sameness," and that many other species are able to adapt their communications systems to account for novel situations. Warning that our understanding of animal minds is still ill-formed and that much work remains to be done in the field before we can confidently answer that ancient question one way or the other, he argues that "animals are best viewed as actors who choose what to do, rather than as objects totally dependent on outside influences." --Gregory McNamee

From Publishers Weekly

The creator of the controversial field of cognitive ethology, Donald R. Griffin (The Question of Animal Awareness) has spent more than three decades researching animal cognition. In a completely revised and updated edition of his classic, Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness, Griffin, now an associate of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, discusses his own and others' research findings including those of his critics. Although he admits "it is very difficult to gather convincing evidence about whether conscious experiences may occur in animals," he maintains that scientists like him have "show[n] that many animals behave in ways that strongly indicate that they are aware of their situation and how their behavior can affect it." Intended for others in the field, Griffin's book will enlighten, delight and even ruffle some feathers.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226308650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226308654
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Donald Griffen was the first scientist to challenge the reductionist notion that animals are incapable of cognition (the word for thinking in non-human animals), in 1985, and thus he founded the science of cognitive ethology.

This book, and the earlier version released in 1994, provide a range of reports of eye-witness accounts of behaviour by animals that could not have been performed without mental referencing (or thought), along with his brilliant analyses and discussion of the meaning of each.

Though well received by the public, the works of Professor Griffin were widely criticized by the scientific community because his assertions were difficult to prove, and because his views represented a reversal of the currently held belief that animals were unconscious automatons. However, more and more evidence is appearing in the scientific literature in support of his pioneering work, and proving him to be right.

This book is unequalled in presenting a scientific argument that animals, invertebrates as well as the so-called "higher" animals, are capable, each in a unique way, of cognition. The latest version of the work includes arguments in response to criticisms of the original.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Griffin is no longer with us, but his quality work will be important for years to come--assuming the animals remain as well. There are many changes in the world affecting animals and birds and we need to help them survive and by understanding how fascinating and intelligent they are, we will work for their safety.
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Format: Hardcover
Griffin spends a lot of time arguing his stance and not enough discussing the definitions and concepts that his stance is based on. He does explain the research in nice detail but I kept thinking that learning theory explains the same behaviors he is describing without reference to conscious awareness and so the arguments don't fully make it for me. Minds of Their Own by Rogers is better but I still found this book (Animal Minds) better than Species of Mind which was way to hard to read -- I came away with no knew knowledge from reading Species of Mind. To sum I'd say it's worth reading for sure but only if you intend to also read Mind's of Their Own. They compliment each other nicely because Griffin describes more detail in the research while Rogers discusses the arguements and definitions better.
James O'Heare, Dip.C.B.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is an amazing theme, but I think the most exciting cases were not as well exploited as I expected.
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