Observing My Octopus Teacher - Bas van Woerkum with Lysanne Snijders

In his acclaimed Academy Award-winning Netflix-documentary My Octopus Teacher, filmmaker Craig Foster recounts his road to recovery from a burnout recovery through the intimate contact he made with an octopus living in the South African kelp forest near his house. It is a touching and intimate story of a growing friendship between two living creatures that seem two worlds apart, and of a connection to a species that doesn’t particularly count as a pet animal. Tonight, we watch the documentary together, and as most of us probably have seen the documentary by now, it is also time to ask some questions: what is it that we witness? An investigation? A friendship? An intervention? What has cinematographic art to offer to our (scientific) understanding of animals? Are we humans even capable of understanding other animals, befriending them, even becoming them? How do we stay away from so-called anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism, and should we?

Location: Speakers Corner, Impulse

Time: 20:30-22:45 hrs

Join the conversation with by philosopher Bas van Woerkum, whose
research focuses on animal cognition and the question how we can understand
animals by leaving behind our (almost inevitable) bias to look for what is
human or “almost human” in other animals. Bas will be joined by WUR behavioral
ecologist Lysanne Snijders.

About Bas van Woerkum

Bas van Woerkum is a PhD candidate in the philosophy of animal minds at Radboud University in Nijmegen. His research focuses primarily on explaining the cognitive abilities of nonhuman animals without departing from our current ideas about human intelligence, as well as on the similarities and differences between different animals including humans, and the role of anthropomorphism in animal cognition.

About Lysanne Snijders

Lysanne Snijders is an Assistant Professor in behavioural ecology at Wageningen University. She studies how individuals of the same species differ in their behaviour and how these differences impact the social and spatial dynamics of animal populations. Her research includes birds, bats and fish. In addition, Lysanne is interested in how knowledge of animal behaviour can contribute to wildlife conservation. In 2016, she was a lecturer for the MOOC Introduction to Animal Behaviour, free to participate for everyone.