39 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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In this immensely readable, fascinating book anthropologist author Jeremy Narby explodes the myth that 'the lower animal, insects, organisms' do not possess intelligence. Whether or not the reader subscribes to all of Narby's findings and postulates really doesn't matter. What DOES matter is the fact that this bright gentlemen has opened windows into the concept of 'knowledge', that knowledge is not the property of man, that lower animal life and plant life demonstrate an economy of putting information together that allows them to survive and outwit their predators!
Some aspects of insect and animal behavior have been observed and then relegated to Darwinian survival of the fittest without pursuing it further: camouflage techniques, heightened sense of smell, night vision are easy categories to assign as 'traits'. Narby enters the world of shaman and shares how trances induced by varied means give the shaman the ability to communicate with organisms, understanding their innate intelligence.
But the real joy of reading this treatise is the manner in which Narby relates his information. No 'from the pulpit' technique here, instead this is a conversational, open minded, keenly observant and intelligent man who encourages us to be more aware of the fellow nature creatures around us, giving them the respect that is their due. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, February 06
52 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Readers of Jeremy Narby's first book, The Cosmic Serpent, might wonder as I did, after reading Intelligence in Nature, why he wrote this latest book. They might also wonder what happened to the spirit of personal discovery that was so present in his previous work. Where Cosmic Serpent fairly rings with the kind of unbridled enthusiasm that comes with uncovering splendid mysteries, Intelligence in Nature reads more like a transcription from the Discovery channel.
Narby's search for intelligence in nature takes us into the biology labs of a select group of scientists around the world who are trying to identify humanlike intelligence within the plant and animal life of the natural world. From the Peruvian Amazon to Japan, we meet scientists whose investigations are undoubtedly fascinating. But Narby's inquiry begins and ends with large questions hanging in the air. We learn interesting things about how slime mold, for example, appears to make decisions, or how certain tropical birds ingest clay to prevent disease in much the same way that we use antibiotics. But then what? Why is intelligence in nature such a puzzling question to science when it seems so obvious to anyone who regularly walks in the woods with a curious and observant eye? And why should it be left to mainstream science to decree the existence of something for which scientists themselves can reach no defining consensus?
Narby asks good questions in this book but he doesn't go very far with them. His tentativeness in the company of scientists is curious given the open-minded enthusiasm he brought to his experiences with shamans in the Peruvian Amazon, which he first wrote about in The Cosmic Serpent. There, far from his academic and cultural roots, he eagerly pushed the edge of conventional knowledge. Describing his experience with ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic healing plant of the Amazonian basin, Narby made a symbolic connection between the double-helix imagery of DNA and what the shamans described as the "language twisting-twisting" experience of ritualistically altered consciousness. Through their profound knowledge of the natural world, the shamans revealed a larger intelligence governing all life. Narby's experience and subsequent description of this revelation was truly inspiring.
But it's possible that The Cosmic Serpent was more than Western science could handle, which may be one reason why Intelligence in Nature is so tentative and inconclusive. Once bitten, twice shy, perhaps. In 1997, following publication of The Cosmic Serpent, Harvard biophysicist Jacques Dubochet roundly criticized Narby for insufficiently testing his hypothesis about DNA and universal intelligence. Accusing Narby of "blindly charging down the wrong path," Dubochet made it clear that in his opinion Narby had succumbed to the least responsible path of science.
But it was never meant to be a formal scientific inquiry. Jeremy Narby is an anthropologist, not a scientist, and his intent clearly was to use his own experience to inspire us to think more deeply about our intelligence and what our potential could be. Subjective experience is not admissible to established scientific methodology, which is fine for science. But for the rest of us, personal experience is the only real knowledge there is. That's where Jeremy Narby is strongest, and where he can be an inspiration for all of us. He's done it once, he can do it again.
- Swami Gopalananda
ascent magazine, Issue 27
20 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Be prepared. As with his previous "The Cosmic Serpent" Jeremy Narby's latest work requires from the readers the unwillingness to question many of the most basic assumptions of our culture.
"Intelligence in Nature" is the work of a visionary - not of the cheap and bland type of futurologist our technoculture is so good in creating. This book re-instates Narby as a visionary in the best sense of the word. His scientifically trained anthropological gaze is, thankfully, still untamed enough to place itself outside both the usual frontiers of our institutional academic research and the comfortable safety of our socially acquired common sense.
In "Intelligence in Nature" his account of our efforts to understand and cope with the present challenges of our life amidst a multitude of other sentient life forms is built from the stand point of a consciousness that has actually been there - on "the other side" of our arbitrary cultural, existential and psychological boundaries. Having experienced first hand the meaningfulness and uniqueness of the abundant life that envelops our own restricted and partial understanding of nature Narby - as the shamans he has once learned from - is again in an ideal position to guide us through the path toward plenitude he has been gradually building with his works.
Following the best anthropological tradition Narby goes out yet again to do his field work. It is only that this time the field includes not only the rich landscapes of the Peruvian Amazon inhabited and acted upon by shamans and parrots, the French-Swiss border where the Jura Mountains are criss-crossed by purposeful scientists and earthworms or the old Estonian farm where a herbal healer and her "talking" plants share their knowledge in front of a welcoming fireplace. Now the field also encompasses a myriad of scientists and laboratories working relentlessly in France, Japan, Scotland, Switzerland and elsewhere. Speaking from within our hard sciences' core production plants such subjects are given the chance of enunciating questions and answers that might eventually lead us forward in the direction of a knowledge more fine-tuned to the realities already present within the cultures of other peoples and life forms. The result is a rich picture of knowledge seeking wisdom, not necessarily power.
Apart from the vast and exciting information the author is capable of unleashing into our wider pool of knowledge and practices the book also excels in showing the cultural realities that frame the production of truth within what we call the hard sciences. In this sense "Intelligence in Nature" resonates with the work of Bruno Latour. While Latour has brilliantly exposed the artefacts that allowed the western thought to completely detach science from life - placing the former out of and above the reach of the latter - Narby gives visibility to some efforts within specific branches of contemporary life sciences which are strongly pressing for a revision of our mechanistic and behaviourist accounts of both nature and life. In this trajectory Narby is led to confront the works of some of the pillars of modern science like Descartes and Darwin.
Specially encouraging is his finding that working from a slightly different cultural perspective - since there seems to be more to the Japanese word "Chi-Sei" than what our almost equivalent "intelligence" can grasp - some scientists do already find it quite amazing the western difficulty in acknowledging that we humans are not alone and when it comes to intentionally intervene and act upon nature.
In "The Cosmic Serpent" Narby managed to portray the effectiveness and truth of the knowledge produced by the convergence and undisociability of man and nature in the shamanistic practices in the amazon basin. In this "Intelligence in Nature" Narby brings his inquisitive nature back home only to find he is not alone.
In spite of Narby claims to be "no scientist", this book is simply science made live and meaningful. Wisely protecting his work from shallow criticisms that will most likely attempt to cover the blinding truth with the veil of cheap and rusty "scientificism" Narby does not expect his readers to be fooled. And that's fair.
To pretend we believe in his humble plead for innocence is all the author is asking from us in order to justify our existence amongst the infinitude of knowledge producing biological, social and cultural entities here brought in to play. I would take his offer.
14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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I found this book to be refreshing and intriguing. It is a very pleasurable and at once, thought-provoking book to read. I highly recommend this book for its narrative approach, its well-considered thoughts and precious interviews with scientists that he has the privilege of interviewing, whereas most of us will not be traveling to Japan to discuss the sense-data of butterflies. This is much like having a well-read anthroplogy student or professor over for tea. He intuits what you would most like to ask, extensively footnotes his research and has given us the best of what leading journals like Nature have to tell us about the conciousness of other life forms. He does not inundate the reader with esoteric vocabulary and acurately and succinctly describes scietific concepts. In conclusion, while I have yet to peruse the endnotes for my next book on the subject, and I value being able to, I was so sad that those extra pages at the end weren't another chapter of Narby's writings on the subject.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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In his search for the answer to the intelligence in nature and in an attempt to disprove Descartes' dictum ("I think, therefore I am"), an anthropologist Jeremy Narby wrote this intriguing and an easy-to-read book, which outlined his journey. And, he also included endnotes, which do indeed make an interesting read.
Throughout the book, the two subjects that most intrigues me are the plant communications and transformation in butterflies. An interesting thing about plants is the fact from this book that they have "spirits" and those who were able to see them. And, with a cited research, it is an understanding that plants do communicate with one another. Yes, everyone have some thoughts or two about this phenomena but a scientific research showed this to be true is interesting. Also, the transformations of butterflies are quite a fascinating read.
It is not the journey of Narby that is just important here, but his cited research, evidences, and his conversations with noted individuals to discover this "communication" and "intelligence" in nature as well as between the living beings. This book brings an addition to my respect for the nature and for all beings and a new perspective of how nature works.