The Inner Life of Animals Book Summary - The Inner Life of Animals Book explained in key points
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The Inner Life of Animals summary

Peter Wohlleben

Love, Grief, and Compassion – Surprising Observations of a Hidden World

4.4 (59 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

'The Inner Life of Animals' by Peter Wohlleben explores the emotional and social lives of animals. It draws on scientific research and first-hand observations to reveal their complex inner worlds, challenging traditional views of animal behavior.

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    The Inner Life of Animals
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    Though we shouldn’t anthropomorphize animals, evolution suggests they have similar emotions.

    Have you imagined what it would be like to read an animal’s mind? Well, by the end of this book-in-blinks you might have an idea. But we’ve got to begin with some basics. There are some pitfalls to avoid when it comes to discussing animals and emotions.

    For starters, it’s all too easy for us humans to anthropomorphize animals, that is, project human-like qualities onto them that they don’t possess.

    Take the squirrel. It has those big eyes and that bushy tail. Seems harmless enough. But that cuteness is distracting. Squirrels are pretty ruthless predators, quite content to gobble up nestling baby birds. That’s not to say that squirrels are “bad,” in the moral sense, either. It’s just the way they’ve been programmed. They behave this way to survive.

    Just because squirrels provoke an emotional response in us, it doesn’t mean that we have a deep insight into their nature. In fact, it tells us more about us than the animals.

    There’s no doubt humans are different from animals. However, from an evolutionary perspective, there’s a strong argument to be made that emotionally we do share some similarities.

    After all, humans and animals do have some common ancestors. And this biological bequest forms our emotions. We certainly have much in common with other mammals, especially regarding brain and nervous system structures.

    These similarities in brain structures would suggest that we share similar feelings with other animals, especially if we're closely related. And with good reason. Emotions are primarily handled in the relatively old parts of our brains, namely those sections that are alike in all animals.

    For instance, when they give birth, both nanny-goats and human mothers produce large quantities of the neurotransmitter oxytocin – a hormone that bonds the mother to her offspring.

    So, there seem to be some differences and some similarities between humans and animals when it comes to emotional consciousness. But why exactly is that?

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    What is The Inner Life of Animals about?

    In The Inner Life of Animals (2017) Peter Wohlleben discusses the latest research on animal feelings and emotion. He draws insights from multiple studies as well as from his personal experiences of the woodland where he has lived and worked for decades. The book argues that animals’ inner lives are really not so different from our own.

    The Inner Life of Animals Review

    The Inner Life of Animals (2016) by Peter Wohlleben delves into the remarkable world of animal emotions and intelligence, shedding light on their inner experiences. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Replete with fascinating anecdotes and scientific studies, it unveils the hidden depths of animal cognition, challenging our assumptions about the minds of non-human creatures.
    • The book illuminates the surprising similarities between humans and animals, showcasing their emotional lives and social connections, which are often overlooked.
    • By revealing the complexity and richness of animal experiences, it prompts readers to develop a greater appreciation and compassion for all creatures, fostering a deeper understanding of the natural world.

    Who should read The Inner Life of Animals?

    • Everyone who owns a pet
    • Anyone interested in psychology and neurology
    • Animal rights activists who could use some new arguments

    About the Author

    Peter Wohlleben is a German forester and the New York Times-bestselling author of the renowned The Hidden Life of Trees. He spent many years working as a civil servant in the forestry commission. He now works in his own woodland where he tries to apply alternative and more environmentally friendly forestry methods.

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    The Inner Life of Animals FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Inner Life of Animals?

    Animals have rich emotional lives and are capable of complex thoughts and behaviors.

    How long does it take to read The Inner Life of Animals?

    The reading time for The Inner Life of Animals varies depending on the reader, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Inner Life of Animals a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Inner Life of Animals is worth reading for its fascinating insights into the emotional world of animals.

    Who is the author of The Inner Life of Animals?

    The author of The Inner Life of Animals is Peter Wohlleben.

    What to read after The Inner Life of Animals?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Inner Life of Animals, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
    • Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
    • Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith
    • The Six Disciplines of Strategic Thinking by Michael D. Watkins