The Book of Minds

Philip Ball

22 June 2023
512 pages


Understanding the human mind and how it relates to the world that we experience has challenged philosophers for centuries. How then do we even begin to think about ‘minds’ that are not human?

Taking a uniquely broad view of minds and where they might be found – including in plants, aliens, and God – prize-winning science writer Philip Ball pulls these multidisciplinary pieces together to explore what sorts of minds we might expect to find in the universe.

He offers for the first time a unified way of thinking about what minds are and what they can do, arguing that in order to understand our own minds and imagine those of others, we need to move on from considering the human mind as a standard against which all others should be measured, and to think about the ‘space of possible minds’.

Ball sheds new light on a host of fascinating questions. What moral rights should we afford animals, and can we understand their thoughts? Should we worry that AI is going to take over society? If there are intelligent aliens out there, how could we communicate with them? Should we?

Ball’s thrillingly ambitious The Book of Minds about the nature and existence of minds is more mind-expanding than we could imagine. In this fascinating panorama of other minds, we come to better know our own.