Cosmic Tortoise

(Mostly) Rational exploration of ideas, science, technology, philosophy, society; musical performances; the sensible and the nonsensical; everything between and beyond.

CTP #008 - Jonathan Balcombe (The Capacity to Feel)

August 22nd, 2017

Jonathan Balcombe is a scientist, author and speaker.

Balcombe holds 3 degrees including a PhD in ethology. He has published over 50 scientific papers on animal behaviour and animal protection and is currently the Director of Animal Sentience with the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, in Washington, DC.

Some topics we talk about include sentience, animal emotions and ethics, cephalopods and the evolution of consciousness and some surprising animal behavioural anecdotes.

Jonathan's books really influenced the way I thought about animals and I highly recommend checking them out.





Sentience as defined by Balcombe is the capacity to feel.

Fishes Use Problem Solving and Invent Tools (Article by JB)

Fishes Have Feelings, Too (Also by JB)

Tusk fish using rock "anvil" to crack clam

Guardian article on "the extraordinary minds of octopuses and other cephalopods"

Man befriends and swims with crocodile

Vladimir Dinets - zoologist and world authority on crocodillian behaviour.

Grouper and Moray eel co-operative hunting

Rats experience feelings of regret

The Sloth Moth

Connect with Jonathan:


by Jonathan Balcombe:

Pleasurable Kingdom
Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals
What A Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins


Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson

La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer

Recorded in Leipzig, Germany
Theme Song by Cosmic Tortoise


CTP #007 Special: a reading of Alan Watts - The Joyous Cosmology

August 8th, 2017

Alan Watts was a brilliant philosopher; a fantastic speaker full of lucidity and cheekiness. 

He wrote a wonderful small book called "The Joyous Cosmology. It is the best description of the psychedelic experience I have come across, and when I couldn't find a decent audio version of his book I decided to make one myself.

I feel this book would be of interest to curious people on either side of the psychedelic fence.

Since this book appears to be on the public domain, I don't see any harm sharing it. I'm sure Alan wouldn't mind.



The Joyous Cosmology text in full:

"The Joyous Cosmology" by Alan Watts
Recorded in Leipzig, Germany
Theme song by Cosmic Tortoise