Animal Minds
Griffin (Donald)
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Amazon Product Description

  1. This text takes the reader on a guided tour of scientific research concerning animal mentality. Are animals consciously aware of anything, or are they merely living machines incapable of conscious thoughts or emotions? How can we tell? Such questions have fascinated the author, Donald Griffin, for decades, and his years spent at the forefront of research in animal cognition make him one of the leading behavioural ecologists of the 20th century.
  2. This revised and expanded version1 of his book moves beyond considerations of animal cognition to argue that scientists should and can investigate questions of animal consciousness.
  3. Using examples, ranging from chimpanzees to dolphins to birds and bees, Griffin demonstrates how communication between animals can serve as a "window" into what animals think and feel. He even shows how the reader can learn when there is no verbal communication from the animal, instead look at the actions the animal is taking, and how they respond to their surrounding and adapt or die.
  4. Griffin also considers the up-and-coming research on animal consciousness, its pros and cons, and explores the philosophical and ethical implications of the research.
  5. Donald R. Griffin has been a professor at Cornell, Harvard, and Rockefeller Universities and is now an associate of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. His many books include
    … "The Question of Animal Awareness,"
    … "Animal Thinking,"
    … "Listening in the Dark,"
    … "Echoes of Bats and Men,"
    … "Animal Structure and Function," and
    … "Bird Migration."

Amazon Review
  1. In the intriguing Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness, Donald Griffin tackles that perennial question of psychologists and behaviourists, 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.
  2. A different view has emerged in recent years, one that draws on findings from experimental psychology, biology, linguistics, and cognitive ethology. Writes 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.
  3. Griffin examines recent studies that show that many species are able to discern and classify colours, 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

Amazon Customer Review
  1. Donald Griffin 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 he founded the science of cognitive ethology.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. This book is unequalled in presenting a scientific argument that animals, invertebrates2 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.

In-Page Footnotes ("Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds")

Footnote 1: Published in 2001. Unfortunately, I only have the first edition published in 1992.

Footnote 2: While I am very sympathetic to the thesis of the author, I think we have to be careful to distinguish “cognition” from conscious sensation and from “animal perspectives”. The invertebrates have very few neurons to play with, and much cognition, even in human animals, is unconscious. We have to beware of making the case for the sensory consciousness of the higher animals ridiculous by suggesting the same is true of bees.


University of Chicago Press, London, 1992

"Gallup (Gordon G.) - Animal Minds: Review"

Source: The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 68, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), p. 462

COMMENT: Review of "Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds".

"Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds: Preface"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992

"Griffin (Donald) - Animal Mentality"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 1

"Griffin (Donald) - Finding Food"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 2

"Griffin (Donald) - Predation"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 3

"Griffin (Donald) - Construction of Artifacts"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 4

"Griffin (Donald) - Tools and Special Devices"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 5

"Griffin (Donald) - Concepts"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 6

"Griffin (Donald) - Physiological Indices of Thinking"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 7

"Griffin (Donald) - Communication as Evidence of Thinking"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 8

"Griffin (Donald) - Symbolic Communication"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 9

"Griffin (Donald) - Deception and Manipulation"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 10

"Griffin (Donald) - Apes and Dolphins"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 11

"Griffin (Donald) - The Significance of Animal Consciousness"

Source: Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds, 1992, Chapter 12

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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