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Thinking about how they think

Francis Gooding: Is nature intelligent?

16 February 2017
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? 
by Frans de Waal.
Granta, 340 pp., £14.99, September 2016, 978 1 78378 304 5
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The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate 
by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst.
Greystone, 272 pp., £16.99, September 2016, 978 1 77164 248 4
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... Why​ should we try to understand the lives of animals? The English moral philosopher Mary Midgley’s Beast and Man (1978) ended with a succinct answer: humankind ‘can neither be understood nor saved alone’. No philosophy can hope to understand ‘human nature’, Midgley argued, without acknowledging our integration into incomparably larger and older natural systems ...

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