Intelligence in Nature
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Continuing the journey begun in his acclaimed book The Cosmic Serpent, the noted anthropologist ventures firsthand into both traditional cultures and the most up-todate discoveries of contemporary science to determine nature's secret ways of knowing.
Anthropologist Jeremy Narby has altered how we understand the Shamanic cultures and traditions that have undergone a worldwide revival in recent years. Now, in one of his most extraordinary journeys, Narby travels the globe-from the Amazon Basin to the Far East-to probe what traditional healers and pioneering researchers understand about the intelligence present in all forms of life.
Intelligence in Nature presents overwhelming illustrative evidence that independent intelligence is not unique to humanity alone. Indeed, bacteria, plants, animals, and other forms of nonhuman life display an uncanny penchant for self-deterministic decisions, patterns, and actions.
Narby presents the first in-depth anthropological study of this concept in the West. He not only uncovers a mysterious thread of intelligent behavior within the natural world but also probes the question of what humanity can learn from nature's economy and knowingness in its own search for a saner and more sustainable way of life.
rats up to the point of reaching the food reward, but they are incapable of turning around and going back to where they have come from. Once bees eat, they are rigidly programmed to fly upward. Bees in a glass-covered maze bang against the glass cover, trying to gain altitude, until they die. They are programmed according to a simple rule: To get back to the hive, first go upward, to where light intensity is greatest, toward the sky. So, Giurfa said, it is important to avoid exaggerating the
sticky nectar. He said butterfly decision making was not simple. He paused again. We sat in silence for a while. Then he said, “I believe that there must be some primitive form of mind in these animals, or the ability to think in things. I don’t think that a simple chain of reflexes is sufficient to explain the whole thing.” During the silence, I thought about Arikawa thinking about butterfly thinking. This reminded me of the story by Chuang-Tzu, the presumed founder of philosophical Taoism, who
believing it. But I thought that if anybody was going to manage to build a butterfly, he or she might well be Japanese. As British designer Andrew Davey recently remarked:, “The miniaturization of form twinned with the maximization of function is a Japanese specialty. It is a hallmark of Japanese design.” ARIKAWA OFFERED TO SHOW US some living butterflies. We went downstairs and left the building. Outside, the rain was abating, though the winds were still strong. We got into his car and drove
understanding, but none fit the bill. Apprehension means “anxious or fearful anticipation.” Cognizance refers to “the action of taking judicial notes,” or to a “distinctive mark worn by retainers of a noble house.” Even an apparently simple word like understand is loaded. Its first meaning is “to perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or a speaker).” I did not find an English word equivalent to chi-sei that could apply neutrally to other species. Intelligence, awareness,
carry out the directives” (p. 55). Wade (2000) writes: “The body’s 100 trillion cells govern themselves through an exchange of chemical signals. Cells secrete chemical signals to influence the behavior of other cells, and they receive signals through special receptors embedded in their surfaces…Mr. Haseltine has asserted for several years that the entire communications system of the human body, a set of some 11,000 signaling factors and their receptors, has been identified and captured by Human