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Mechanistic Biology and Animal Behaviour



    MR. SAVORY'S book gives an eminently lucid and readable description of tropistic behaviour in some invertebrate organisms. The book, however, is largely devoted to an unconvincing exposition of certain well-worn theoretical issues. Mr. Savory defines his aim as the purely objective description of behaviour, which for the purposes of deterministic analysis he regards as the "visible response of an animal to some kind of stimulation which originates most frequently from a disturbance of its environment". He strays, however, from the logical demands of his definition, which is generally accepted by scientific students of behaviour, when he leaves the field of straightforward description. Thus, when he departs from the world of invertebrate organisms with which he is familiar, and discusses mammalian forms such as dogs, he accepts a priori concepts such as 'mind' and 'intelligent' as opposed to 'sub-intelligent' behaviour, and fails to realize that to the student of behaviour these concepts are somewhat empty. It is clearly illogical for the experimental investigator to ask whether spiders that lurk under stones have mind and self-awareness, and then to answer 'no' merely because the particular tropisms which drive spiders under stones have been defined.

    Mechanistic Biology and Animal Behaviour

    By Theodore H. Savory. Pp. xv + 182. (London: Watts and Co., 1936.) 7s. 6d. net.

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