Read Intelligence in Nature: An Inquiry Into Knowledge by Jeremy Narby Online


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 worldwidContinuing 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....

Title : Intelligence in Nature: An Inquiry Into Knowledge
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781585424610
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Intelligence in Nature: An Inquiry Into Knowledge Reviews

  • Charlene
    2018-10-20 21:57

    I whole heartedly buy the argument that microbes, plants, and other animals have vast intelligence. The delivery of support for this argument was interwoven with things I felt very unnecessary. Why should we care that shamans think animals and plants have souls? I love many of the animal studies included in this book but why ruin those studies with musings about shamans?

  • Bryn Hammond
    2018-10-13 15:31

    Of Darwin he says: "Here was a shaman among scientists." I like that. But mostly the book (only 150 pages before notes) is him digging up intelligence research in journals and visiting the scientists concerned. Bee cognition: "Though bees have brains the size of pinheads, they can master abstract rules... small brains do not hinder thought." It is "difficult to avoid the conclusion of intention and intelligent choice in the case of ground ivy... Plants learn, remember and decide, without brains." When he goes to Japan he finds scientists much more comfortable with use of the word 'intelligence', even when a slime mold solves a maze - as niftily as a rat, and every time. The slime investigator suggests that Christianity has put too big a divide between humans and other organisms, and the Western mind is very very reluctant to cross. Narby starts to use a Japanese term instead of intelligence; since, as the Japanese scientist says to him, "I feel that behind this term, there is Western Christian culture, in which intelligence is a gift from the God to humans only." And when Narby drops the word, things do start to make more sense. That is, it's easier to think about the behaviour of ground ivy; and then of our gut, because "the brain is not limited to the skull. My gut alone contains about one hundred million neurons capable of learning, remembering, and responding to emotions, just like the larger brain in my head." How does 'the capacity to know' work without a brain? We can't even guess, but we haven't got much of a clue on the brain. Bacteria communicate - and shamanship has always recognised that everything communicates. He's an anthropologist and his inspiration comes from shamans who see our kinship with other organisms, not our differences. Because, though the scientific data has come in lately, "What may still be lacking among Westerners is a willingness to accept the consequences of this kinship. And Western languages may lack the appropriate concepts to think it through." I wish there was more at the 'indigenous knowledge' end, and more altogether. The book's too short and easy for the subject.

  • E.C.R.
    2018-10-16 17:52

    This book is neither well written nor well argued. The book is an academic travelogue of which relates interviews Narby conducts with various researchers and informants. What these researchers and informants have to relate is of interest, but how these ideas are related is not. Narby’s thinking is about the nature of intelligence and the intelligence in nature is very sloppy. Rather than come to grips with the various definitions of intelligence, skill and knowledge, Narby skirts the issue and refuses to take any theoretical position other than this is all really complex stuff. Frequently in the book Narby finds solace in mundane ethical non-dilemmas of invertebrate rights and plant perception, but even on these issues he finds difficultly in taking and defending a position. The travelogue portions of the book are do not inform the ideas presented and consist of banalities such as it was stormy in Tokyo and the plane ride was long. What is of interest are the descriptions of researchers views about intelligence and the capacity of seemingly simple organisms to perform complex tasks. Bees that can abstract, slime molds solving mazes and plants that communicate is all very interesting stuff. In fact the extended quotes provided in the back of the book make for a fascinating read and Narby can be applauded for collecting it all in one place. But having a good bibliography is not enough for me to recommend reading the book.

  • Andrew Sampson
    2018-10-20 18:31

    This book questions intentionality posed as "intelligence" in nature. The author found a better term as the result of a visit to Japan where there in not such a distinction of man-vs-nature in the concept of chi-sei, which conotates a sort of knowingness or recognizing-ness and as exemplified by creatures such as slime molds which lack a nervous system or a brain, are unicellular yet can navigate mazes when food is placed at either end. Essentially Jeremy Narby is asking how much sentience we are willing to grant to nature and how we are going about doing just that as science probes deeper into living systems.

  • Dеnnis
    2018-10-15 21:45

    Oh, my... I'm at a loss to determine who's the target audience of this.

  • Bria Aguayo
    2018-10-08 18:54

    This book was fascinating. I was half way through and realized all I was reading was the bibliography, though. It was interesting and amazing that there were so many references but wish it was longer with a more cogent look at the intelligence and possibly the spiritual nature of being truly part of the natural world. I didn't enjoy it as much as Cosmic Serpent but I love the subject matter. I've quoted parts of it in conversation. Recommend it for sure, especially if you are into biology, evolution, genetics, or the spiritual mysteries.

  • Bob Mustin
    2018-10-16 16:56

    The author’s name should seem familiar, I posted on his first book, The Cosmic Serpent, a while ago. With this book Narby grows more ambitious, and as with many ambitious projects, it doesn’t satisfy as easily as his first. In a nutshell, as the title implies, his underlying question is, “Does nature, i.e., plants in particular, have the ability to know? At first blush it would seem so; in this exploration, Narby doesn’t do the experiential stuff. Instead, he asks the questions of scientists who do (and some have been doing this research for a quarter-century). As a result, the book seems a little distanced from his subject, since he’s writing about the subject with second- and third-hand information. Still, he a good enough writer to made the search interesting and sometimes downright funny. What does he discover here?That the functioning of plants, especially vine plants, mimics a naked nervous system. (See how Charles Darwin came up with his ideas?) Vines seem able of making decisions, or rather, choices, on finding food for survival. Slimes and fungi can even “crawl” onto logs and such in order to be positioned for nourishment and survival. In the final analysis, there is much conjecture regarding whether plant life of all ilks - or none - “know” in a manner similar to the way humans do. Still, the chase is what seems to sustain Narby, as it does the scientists he interviews and the people, like me, who read his books.If a single thing makes reading his book worthwhile, it’s a long compendium of notes that serve to reinforce his text. These notes, then, often prove more edifying and entertaining than the text itself.My rating: 16 of 20 stars

  • Ard
    2018-10-09 16:34

    Quite disappointing after his original and interesting previous book "The cosmic serpent". Just like the other book, this one takes the form of the report on the author's journey of discovery, this time about the western notion of intelligence in nature. After studying shamanism, Narby is interested to find out how western scientists approach this subject and if they are still all stuck on the idea of a mechanical animal. So after reading a lot of books and articles, he takes the reader on trips to various scienitists around the world and interviews them about their research. Most of what he learns doesn't seem all that new, revolutionary or even surprising, and halfway through this book I lost all hope of the author living up to his interesting premise. I had the feeling that Narby had a much more interesting book in mind before he started research and writing, at least I did when I started reading it. There definitely are some interesting parts here and there, but after finishing it I just wasn't impressed with what I had learned. The only pages that really had my interest were about his experiences with shamans, in the beginning of the book. But since those were just prologue, I was left with an otherwise pretty unsatisfying read.

  • Aaron
    2018-09-26 22:34

    I read this book as part of my reading challenge to "read a book based on a true story". This book follows the account of an anthropologist as he searches for intelligence in nature among the work of scientists and the sacred knowledge of the tribes of the jungle. I love this novel as to me it represents the perfect syncretism between the world of rational knowledge and sacred knowledge. The author approaches his hypothesis with caution, but an open mind and allows us to delight in his discoveries that many of the things long claimed by Shamans; that nature has "mind", that nature has "a code" and "a sacred language" and that "even plants think in their own way" are just now starting to be confirmed by cutting edge science. Scientists and shaman's are given equal weight, and it is clear the author has a lot of respect for the revelatory powers of ayahuasca. The author's personal journey and reflections enrich the story further by encouraging us to also look within and consider the implications of the intelligence in nature all around us. Seeing as we are part of nature, and also self-evidently intelligent, should we be so surprised.

  • Harrison
    2018-09-29 18:55

    This a sequel of sorts to Narby's previous book The Cosmic Serpent, which I've also reviewed. Personally, I don't think this one lives up to the first. That's not to say it's bad, however. Narby does a great job of distilling a lot of science into a digestible and breezy read. He uses the same first-person approach as in CS and keeps the citations and references to the endnotes. I think he more than amply demonstrates his point: that there is intelligence in nature, not just humans, and that this supports the idea that consciousness goes to the very roots of nature. In short, the current fad worldview of 'scientific materialism' isn't all it's made out to be. Can't disagree there. But there's something missing. There was a spark of wonder and even fervent curiosity in CS that I just find lacking here. Maybe I just prefer the speculative lengths to which Narby goes in CS, which makes this one seem light in comparison.

  • Pablo Mayrgundter
    2018-10-13 17:30

    Intelligence is one of those concepts which is age old and essential, but being fundamentally rearticulated in modern times.So Narby takes a great approach, of simply asking people researching intelligence in other creatures what they think it is: how their assumptions have been challenged by their observations and where they think our understanding is headed as we continue to explore.I'm just reviewing after reading this a year ago, but in particular the discussion about intelligent capabilities in plants, slime molds and simple cells still resonates. We aren't finding an outer boundary to what is intelligent yet. Very exciting times.It's a pretty short read too, well worth it. It's main problem is that he didn't go further.

  • Dan Pfeiffer
    2018-10-20 18:31

    Not as revelatory as The Cosmic Serpent but still an interesting read on the prevalence of intelligence in plants and animals beyond the accepted traditional scientific evaluation of Western science. Thus interviews with Japanese and Eastern European scientists doing work in this field form the evidential support for the book. Example, one cell slime molds, thought to be obviously simplistic, are actually capable of learning how to navigate a maze. Shared intelligent faculties in plants and animals may be more common than humans realize and transcend the realm of purely instinctual mechanistic survival tasking. Of course, anyone who owns a cat already knows this.

  • Shaun
    2018-09-29 23:38

    I appreciate much of Narby's direction with this book, but his repetitive writing style is really tiresome. On a quest to find "intelligence" in the animal world, he interviews and discusses the concept with several people working with specific insects, animals, slime molds, etc. and comes up with some intriguing points. Where his writing falters, the passion of his interviewees picks up, making it worth the effort to get through in the end. I just wish Narby's writing was even half as engaging as the ideas he posits!

  • Lynn Wilson
    2018-10-02 17:41

    This book did not excite me the way his "The Cosmic Serpent" did, though the theme is the same: intelligence in nature. This one is subtitled "An inquiry of Knowledge" and will appeal more to the western mind that is attracted to scientific research. I would recommend the first for those who are in touch with mystical ways of knowing and who accept the native/aboriginal way of knowing as valid. I would recommend the second for those who desire proof according to western research methods. Two sides of the same coin.

  • Stephen
    2018-10-20 16:34

    The only criticism I have of this book is that it was too short. The premise of the book is to show that intelligent behavior is pervasive in nature and not an exclusively human attribute. Even bees and lowly slime molds (yes, slime molds) can make intelligent decisions. I think the author is correct in implying that much of human kinds jealous klinging to the notion that we are unique in our intelligence is a by-product of religion, but I would disagree that it is only Christianity that encourages that view.

  • Kate
    2018-10-05 15:45

    Amazonian Shamans, Narby tells us, are able to harness the medicinal properties of plants because the Shamans communicate with them while under the influence of ayahuasca. That much I can believe. That other living things have intelligence I can believe as well. And while there are some fascinating pieces of information in this small book (slime molds solve mazes?) it didn't change my essential beliefs about the communicating abilities of plants, as I feared it would.

  • eliza
    2018-10-17 16:51

    I really appreciate dr narby and his work; perhaps this book fell flat for me by no fault of its own but merely because I'm overly familiar with the subject. It did have interesting nuggets that amounted to the gratification of, say, an episode of Radiolab. I would recommend this to someone skeptical of narby's thesis or interested in the process of an anthropologist's entree to hard science. Those already convinced of nature's intelligence will likely not find any of the content surprising.

  • Steve Paulson
    2018-10-19 22:58

    Many interesting ideas presented with a lot travelog that did not contribute to the book.Amongst other problems,1) Narby never ties the things that he appears to learn back to the shamanism that he opens with,2) His attempt to answer the scientific criticism of his own work fails,3) the book is dated in terms of the science he describes as most of that work has advanced and much new work has been published.

  • Cole
    2018-10-16 18:44

    Although fascinating in concept, this book at times is a bit slow. Narby's argument is well formed/disputed as he travels the world interviewing biologists (an awesome style of research). And although I do admit I enjoyed this book, I felt at times like there was something lacking in its entirety. Still, I would say that this book is arguably worth a read if you're into that kind of subject.

  • Desiree
    2018-10-08 19:48

    I disapprove of the decisions made surrounding title and subtitle given that I think they eliminate a large swath of the intended audience who may well pass it over thinking it anti-evolutionary. Fascinating and well-done. Perhaps "an exploration into shamanism and ancient wisdom" or somesuch would have served it better!

  • Steve Wiggins
    2018-10-16 19:56

    You immediately think you'd like Jeremy Narby as you begin to read this book. He raises many examples of how animals, and even plants, exhibit intelligence. He convinced me. More discussion at: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.

  • Nephyr
    2018-09-28 22:39

    Couldn't finish it. It was highly recommended to me, but sorry - I was bored. Nothing terrible about it, in fact, some interesting stuff, but I just didn't get the feeling that the author was really the right person to be writing about it. Perhaps I'll try again someday - then again, there are an awful lot of books out there to read.

  • Alisha
    2018-10-10 18:56

    The follow-up to Narby's earlier book, The Cosmic Serpent. Narby's writing is still flowing and beautiful, and I enjoyed his process of exploration and research, but this book feels lacking in a definite point or conclusion, and definitely didn't have the fully-formed breath-taking hypothesis that his last book did.

  • Mike
    2018-10-05 22:33

    Another information packed easy read that is full of things we all need to know. In this book the author takes a case study approach to forum in a variety of research scientists and their independent studies of intelligence in nature. We are not as alone as we like to think, but it takes a book like this to crack the shell of Humanity's isolating arrogance.

  • Jason Marciak
    2018-09-26 16:58

    Narby's take on the blending of the metaphysical and grounded sciences is a unique perspective that could give to scientific experimentation the "soulfulness" that is has been seeking in modern times. He does an excellent job of teasing the mind with his thoughts and engaging the reader to think further on life and the meanings that humans can adapt from it's various circumstances.

  • Dora
    2018-10-23 19:44

    I'm happy to say that I really did learn a lot of new things from this book, but to really take it in I think I'm going to have to read it one more time. It will serve as a great inspiration to me in the future (especially in some of my art projects).

  • Emma
    2018-09-27 20:39

    Interesting read that opened my eyes to the fact that even mold slime has some intelligence as it is able to maneuver a maze. Maybe if we started see more things as having intelligence we would think less of them as objects to be disposed of at our will.

  • Laura Curbishley
    2018-10-02 18:58

    Fascinating. Did you know you have a "gut brain"? It has about 100 million neurons, in nets throughout your digestive system. Lots of really interesting reading in this book about intelligence in invertebrates too.

  • Ron Krumpos
    2018-09-24 20:44

    "Intelligence in Nature" is one of the books in the secondary bibliography of my free ebook on comparative mysticism. "The greatest achievement in life" at has been reviewed on Goodreads.

  • Mark
    2018-10-01 19:52

    I just don't know about books that turn out to be 1/3 "notes."