Book Review – Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

OtherMinds

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (alternatively subtitled The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life) is a science and philosophy book by Peter Godfrey-Smith, a professor of philosophy of science and an avid scuba diver. We recognize the intelligence of many animals among us, from our closest relatives in apes and monkeys, to the dogs and cats that live in our homes, and even some of the birds that live in our backyards. Yet there are creatures on this Earth, distantly related to us, that have anomalously developed surprising intelligence on their own. These are the cephalopods: squids, cuttlefish, and especially octopuses. This book is two-pronged, discussing just how consciousness and intelligence arrived on the evolutionary stage in the first place, and the ways in which it has emerged in cephalopods and what science has uncovered in studying their minds.Read More »

Book Review – Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Summary

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

MansSearchForMeaning

After watching a short biography on Viktor Frankl I was fascinated by his life story and sought out Man’s Search for Meaning to learn more about his experiences and his theories on psychology. I was particularly drawn to the notion of meaningful suffering and understanding suffering as something as much a part of life as the positive things. It’s also hard not to be compelled by the question of how someone could find meaning to their life in a situation as dire as a Nazi concentration camp. I saw the book not just as an opportunity to learn, but also gain a new perspective on life for myself.Read More »