In a 1974 paper, American philosopher Thomas Nagel famously wondered what it was like to be a bat. He concluded that we could never know what it was like to be a member of a different species – that the inner lives of animals are ultimately inaccessible to us. In Consciousness Explained (1991), Daniel C. Dennett, while acknowledging the influence of Nagel’s thought experiment, offered a rebuttal: any ‘interesting or theoretically important’ aspects of a bat’s consciousness, he argued, would be open to third-person observation. We could know, in other words, what it was like to be a bat – or a horse or goldfish for that matter – by simply looking.
Ben Brooker reviews 'The Inner Life of Animals: Love, grief and compassion – surprising observations of a hidden world' by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst
The Inner Life of Animals: Love, grief and compassion – surprising observations of a hidden world
by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst
Bodley Head, $32.99 pb, 281 pp, 9781847924544
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Ben Brooker is a writer, editor, critic, essayist, and playwright. His work has been featured by Overland, New Matilda, New Internationalist, Australian Book Review, RealTime, and Daily Review. Ben was a featured playwright at the Emerging Writers' Festival Adelaide Roadshow in September 2014, and at the National Play Festival in Adelaide in July 2015. His most recently produced work for the stage was the dystopian triptych This Storm (which he also directed), a critical and commercial success at the 2016 Adelaide Fringe Festival. He is currently an inaugural Sydney Review of Books Emerging Critics Fellow.
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