Knowing Octopus

Octopi might be the closest we get to interacting with an alien intelligence. This remarkable documentary on living with an octopus, and a great commentary by @jongarvey.

Though it is often unnoticed, all science (like every human skill) depends on the informal “nous” which Michael Polanyi called “personal knowledge.” This scientist ended up not only knowing more about the octopus, but knowing the octopus.

Discovering the possibility of personal interaction with an intelligent cephalopod (with a personality as distinct as those of individual dogs) is also of enormous importance both scientifically, and in understanding our human spiritual role on earth. In evolutionary terms, we separated from the octopus’s lineage several hundred million years ago, our common ancestor being a mere flatworm. Even if you don’t believe in evolution, that still represents as broad a biological gulf as one can conceive: truly to be able to relate, in play and other ways, to a creature lacking a skeleton, having eight tentacles and a poisonous beak, changing colour at will and so on, is akin to being able to relate to some being from across the galaxy.

http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.uk/2019/12/31/heidi-hi/

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There’s a link from YouTube to Nature’s own site. I think the entire video might be available there for US visitors, though it’s off-limits in the UK. Enjoy!

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As is typical of your writing, Jon, very well done.

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Apparently, it is available with a PBS (public broadcasting system) “passport”. I’m considering purchasing a passport just for this single story!

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The video itself seems to be available as a DVD on Amazon, too:

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