"One of our most versatile and gripping science writers." John Carey

UK cover of The Book of Minds by Philip Ball

The Book of Minds: How to understand ourselves and other beings, from animals to AI to aliens

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?
In recent decades, the mind – both human and otherwise – has been explored by scientists in fields ranging from zoology to astrobiology, computer science to neuroscience. Taking a uniquely broad view of minds and where they might be found – including in plants, aliens, and God – The Book of Minds pulls these multidisciplinary pieces together. In so doing, it 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.

OUT ON 23rd June 2022

Alternative cover for USA

By identifying and mapping out properties of mind without prioritizing the human, The Book of Minds 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? Understanding the space of possible minds also reveals ways of making advances in understanding some of the most challenging questions in contemporary science: What is thought? What is consciousness? And what (if anything) is free will?
This thrillingly ambitious survey of current views 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.

Published by PICADOR, June 2022

News from Philip


"Why physics is not a discipline", Nautilus 21 April. Available here.