I Am a Strange Loop

I Am a Strange Loop What do we mean when we say I Can thought arise out of matter Can a self a soul a consciousness an I arise out of mere matter If it cannot then how can you or I be here I Am a Strange Loop argues

What do we mean when we say I Can thought arise out of matter Can a self, a soul, a consciousness, an I arise out of mere matter If it cannot, then how can you or I be here I Am a Strange Loop argues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is the strange loop a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains Deep down, a human brainWhat do we mean when we say I Can thought arise out of matter Can a self, a soul, a consciousness, an I arise out of mere matter If it cannot, then how can you or I be here I Am a Strange Loop argues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is the strange loop a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains Deep down, a human brain is a chaotic seething soup of particles, on a higher level it is a jungle of neurons, and on a yet higher level it is a network of abstractions that we call symbols The most central and complex symbol in your brain or mine is the one we both call I The I is the nexus in our brain where the levels feed back into each other and flip causality upside down, with symbols seeming to have free will and to have gained the paradoxical ability to push particles around, rather than the reverse For each human being, this I seems to be the realest thing in the world But how can such a mysterious abstraction be real or is our I merely a convenient fiction Does an I exert genuine power over the particles in our brain, or is it helplessly pushed around by the all powerful laws of physics These are the mysteries tackled in I Am a Strange Loop, Douglas R Hofstadter s first book length journey into philosophy since Godel, Escher, Bach Compulsively readable and endlessly thought provoking, this is the book Hofstadter s many readers have long been waiting for.

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I Am a Strange Loop

  1. Douglas Richard Hofstadter is an American academic whose research focuses on consciousness, thinking and creativity He is best known for his book G del, Escher, Bach an Eternal Golden Braid, first published in 1979, for which he was awarded the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for general non fiction.Hofstadter is the son of Nobel Prize winning physicist Robert Hofstadter Douglas grew up on the campus of Stanford University, where his father was a professor Douglas attended the International School of Geneva for a year He graduated with Distinction in Mathematics from Stanford in 1965 He spent a few years in Sweden in the mid 1960s He continued his education and received his Ph.D in Physics from the University of Oregon in 1975.Hofstadter is College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he directs the Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition which consists of himself and his graduate students, forming the Fluid Analogies Research Group FARG He was initially appointed to the Indiana University s Computer Science Department faculty in 1977, and at that time he launched his research program in computer modeling of mental processes which at that time he called artificial intelligence research , a label that he has since dropped in favor of cognitive science research In 1984, he moved to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he was hired as a professor of psychology and was also appointed to the Walgreen Chair for the Study of Human Understanding In 1988 he returned to Bloomington as College of Arts and Sciences Professor in both Cognitive Science and Computer Science, and also was appointed Adjunct Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, and Psychology, but he states that his involvement with most of these departments is nominal In April, 2009, Hofstadter was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Member of the American Philosophical Society.Hofstadter s many interests include music, visual art, the mind, creativity, consciousness, self reference, translation and mathematics He has numerous recursive sequences and geometric constructions named after him.At the University of Michigan and Indiana University, he co authored, with Melanie Mitchell, a computational model of high level perception Copycat and several other models of analogy making and cognition The Copycat project was subsequently extended under the name Metacat by Hofstadter s doctoral student James Marshall The Letter Spirit project, implemented by Gary McGraw and John Rehling, aims to model the act of artistic creativity by designing stylistically uniform gridfonts typefaces limited to a grid Other recent models are Phaeaco implemented by Harry Foundalis and SeqSee Abhijit Mahabal , which model high level perception and analogy making in the microdomains of Bongard problems and number sequences, respectively.Hofstadter collects and studies cognitive errors largely, but not solely, speech errors , bon mots spontaneous humorous quips , and analogies of all sorts, and his long time observation of these diverse products of cognition, and his theories about the mechanisms that underlie them, have exerted a powerful influence on the architectures of the computational models developed by himself and FARG members.All FARG computational models share certain key principles, among which are that human thinking is carried out by thousands of independent small actions in parallel, biased by the concepts that are currently activated that activation spreads from activated concepts to less activated neighbor concepts that there is a mental temperature that regulates the degree of randomness in the parallel activity that promising avenues tend to be explored rapidly than unpromising ones FARG models also have an overarching philosophy that

949 Reply to “I Am a Strange Loop”

  1. I have an interesting perspective on this title because the book I read just before it was The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, a book grounded in Zen Buddhist philosophy Tolle declares that the Ego or thinking mind is the cause of all the poisons of our civilization and the only hope for us as a species is to embrace awareness and presence and escape the thinking mind that feeds our needs for material possessions, success, achievement, domination, and so on This book is in fact an entire logician s [...]

  2. I read Douglas Hofstadter s Godel, Escher, Bach long ago sometime in the early 80s, and I remember thinking I really need to read this again I liked this book, but there was a lot I think I missed When I saw a copy of I Am a Strange Loop in a used book store, and Hofstadter said in the intro it was his update of Godel, Escher, Bach, I figured this was my chance to rediscover the concepts in Godel, Escher, Bach Well, I did, but I can t say I was happy with the result Hofstadter s topic in I Am a [...]

  3. The parts I liked were great, were what literature is for, really Intellectual musings based on personal experience Fascinating to hear about Hofstadter going through the loss of his wife Easier to understand than Godel, Escher, Bach, especially if you read that one first.It is so awesome that Hofstadter is celebrated for is allowed to has made a career out of following the conclusions of his passions, making previously unforeseen connections Ultimately I think it s an empty meditation, but a be [...]

  4. This book, on consciousness and what makes a human an I, is methodical and exuberant, technical and personal Reading it was a long, thoughtful journey It s not an easy book The workings of the human brain are described metaphorically and not physiologically , and often those metaphors are mathematical Sometimes, too, Hofstadter employs playful analogies to show how consciousness works, and how it doesn t work He is not a dualist consciousness arises from physical laws and not from a kind of esse [...]

  5. I agree He is a strange loop The first third of this book is the Hofstadter that I expected to read dragging me through a layperson s guide to prime numbers, squares, the Fibonacci series, Principia Mathematica and Bertrand Russell s attempt to banish paradox from mathematics, and finally, Godel s discovery of the ultimate self reflective mathematical string which shattered Russell s dreams This was tough going, but ultimately worth it for this non mathematician Along the way we learned that a y [...]

  6. The purpose of this book is to explain the mystery of consciousness He admits off the top that the concept of the mind and conscious thought is quite difficult to nail down, and probably impossible to draw a distinct line upon Is a mosquito conscious After all, it, like us, seems to have a will to live, and responds to environmental stimuli in ways that benefit itself If not a mosquito, is a bee conscious A fish A snake A dog He does so by describing the mind s process of something like infinite [...]

  7. i am sorry to give this book one measly star i am a huge admirer of hofstadter s work i would fanatically recommend any of his books, which are all fantastic and required reading by this point for all intellectually minded people interested in putting it all together i was therefore ecstatic that he should finally publish another book, but crushed upon reading ite principle point is that though he purports to have some new big answer, this book merely retraces terrain he covered decades ago it g [...]

  8. Twenty eight years ago, Douglas Hofstadter published a book titled Goedel, Escher, Bach that earned him instant academic renown and a cultlike following A mathematician friend recommended the book to me, and I tried mightily to read it, keeping at it because of my admiration for my friend that for the experience of reading the book It was either too indirect, too intricately argued, or too Germanic for me to follow, and after months of off and on attempts I finally put it aside.So why did I sta [...]

  9. As reading experiences go, I d rate this a 4 star book It s highly repetitive and speculative its digressions can annoy it s cutesy typical DH in a way that can grate after a while and it takes repeated pot shots at a towering intellect Bertrand Russell on whose shoulders the author un sufficiently self acknowledgedly stands Goedel, DH s guiding muse, is rightly lionized in this and other DH books Russell standing in for Whitehead as well is all but judged a moron for failing to have seen, in th [...]

  10. I read Hofstadter s G del, Escher, Bach many years ago and was completely taken aback by the author s brilliant style and insight.I read Hofstadter s Metamagical Themas many years ago and was fascinated by the author s vast area of expertise.I read Hofstadter s Le Ton Beau de Marot a few years ago and was amazed by the author s enormous knowledge.I just finished Hofstadter s I Am a Strange Loop and was thoroughly disappointed.The author uses 300 pages to say something that could just as easily h [...]

  11. Douglas Hofstader is a wonder, tackling the almost incomprehensible Big Question of What is the I with relative clarity and wit He is a master of metaphor and analogy, eschewing a microscopic understanding of how the brain works to giving a sensible, rational though revolutionary macroscopic explanation of what we commonly refer to as the soul Hofstader is certainly no Cartesian dualist, but his ideas are neither what you would expect from a material monist.Hofstader wrote this book under the lo [...]

  12. I ve been reading I Am A Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter The development of his theme is slow, so I read the epilogue to find out if he was coming to anything other than where he seemed to be going The epilogue seems to be about the same as the first few chapters.I skipped around the book a little and found this intriguing discussion on page 322 called Two Daves He presents a mental experiment of two universes, identical in every detail except that universe Q has the stuff of consciousness, a [...]

  13. I didn t like this book, although I agree with almost all of its assertions Conceptually, I guess you could say, I enjoyed it, but the presentation the language of the author, the over long format, and the strange mixture of hard math and elementary philosophy diminished and diluted the content to the point that it was barely worth reading The first problem is Hofstadter s aww shucks Uncle Fluffy writing style His language is so steeped in a fireside chat mentality that the meat of his ideas is [...]

  14. Not as dense or rich as G del, Escher, Bach An Eternal Golden Braid and focused on the scientific side of things without all the wonderful digressions you have to read GEB to understand Still Hofstadter plays enough mind games to make the going entertaining and challenging.Basically an argument for the nature of consciousness that all but proves Descartes proposition But Hofstadter presents a pretty convincing argument for his theories on why I think I am I.The one place where he goes out on th [...]

  15. This is merely a re hash of Hofstadter s justly famous Godel, Escher, Bach An Eternal Golden Braid, with some ideas from Le Ton Beau de Marot thrown in but most of the fun stuff taken out if you ve read those, you don t need to read this If you ve only read GEB, then read this instead of Le Ton Beau de Marot unless you have a particular interest in the art skill of translation.This isn t a bad book, apart from the constant use of reference to the dear reader , it s just redundant because of the [...]

  16. Po Daglasu Hof tateru su nijanse sive, nasuprot crno belom svetu, i dalje jednodimenzionalan pogled na svet i u njegovim opisima sveta postoje i sve ostale boje, kao i njihove nijanse Dakle, sve je mnogo arenije nego to izgleda Ka e da ne to mo e biti i ta no i neta no, kao i ne to izme u Tako je, iako je njegov pogled na svet isto materijalisti ki on do ao do zaklju ka da postoji du a Naravno ne ona du a Kod njega su svi pojmovi li nost , svest , du a , ja stvo i sli ni sinonimi.Svakako da se s [...]

  17. After about 200 pages of reading I still was unsure what the point was supposed to be Hoffstadter purportedly explores the nature of self reference and consciousness, but instead, I think, spends time pointing out through his writing how clever he is, how feeble he considers Bertrand Russell, and how much of a fan boy he Hoffstadter is of Godel It s not at all clear to me that this book has any genuine insights to offer, but that may be that it is lost on me as I find his writing style clear, b [...]

  18. On the face of it, this is an interesting book The author draws analogies between Godel s incompleteness theorem of mathematical logic and the question of the meaning of identity and consciousness And on the plus side, at least Hofstadter s discussion of Godel was refreshingly correct technically it helps having had some formal mathematical training.But I found his numerous and lengthy discursions to be, for starters, only tangentially and vaguely associated with Godel incompleteness In my view [...]

  19. The meat of this book, which uses an analogy with Godel s critique of the Principia Mathematica to explain how the concept of an I might be an emergent phenomenon of self referential loops in the brain, is interesting I had a lot of issues with the structure of the argument, which was too dependent on the analogy I think there are much better ways to make this point than by talking about math Like, I don t know, maybe talking about BIOLOGY The last hundred pages or so of the book annoyed me so m [...]

  20. The first half of this book goes into some depth concerning Bertrand Russell s and Whitehead s Principia Mathematica, and then the work of Kurt Godel Hofstadter has an interesting description and point of view about this area But the later portions of the book become steeped in philosophy, and quite frankly, became a bit boring On the other hand, I had read his book Godel, Escher, Bach long ago, and found it to be excellent.

  21. I d like to preface the review which is very long, but if you are vacillating on whether or not to read this book, I hope my review will help you decide to your best interests, whichever those will be Particularly if you, like me, are decidedly not math inclined by saying that I m a philosophy student I love philosophy so much it s disgusting We re dating We moved in together after our third date We have a wedding registry at Macy s So it is with nothing but complete affection that I say many, m [...]

  22. I enjoyed much of Hostetter s account of the ways in which a strictly biological account of cognition fails to grasp the complexities of consciousness and identities I did find, however, his account of how identity is dispersed and externalized the be somewhat unconvincing, thought not because I disagree with the concept but with his interpretation of the concept He tries to argue through several chapters that the decentered strange loopiness of consciousness comes about because cognition is rea [...]

  23. I got about three quarters of the way through and by then it seemed like Hofstadter had completely lost the plot.He makes some bold claims about the nature of consciousness, but he doesn t use his terms and concepts rigorously enough to keep his arguments straight, and he doesn t do much work to back them up anyway.It amounts to listening to some friend who got stoned and had an amazing idea If that friend happens to be Douglas Hofstadter, it s probably worth your while to stick around for a whi [...]

  24. Begyne lese denne ca i februar, og fullf rte n august Kort sagt handler boken jeg et, hva skal til for utgj re et jeg , hva er bevissthet, og lignende temaer Det er veldig interessant, og jeg h pte f noe nyttig ut av boken.Dessverre viser det seg at Hofstadter er utrolig glad i metaforer S glad i dem at 3 4 av boken er metaforer og lignelser for forskjellige poenger han pr ver vise Dette funker til dels bra, til dels blir det utrolig langtekkelig lese S jeg har kost meg mye med boken, men ogs v [...]

  25. Dr Hofstadter always has an intriguing and playful way to present his thinking Even the title reflects this I Am a Strange Loop should not be taken to mean Douglas Hofstadter is a strange loop The I in the title refers to the concept of the I in all of us And the book does an excellent job of presenting his views on just how the I forms in a brain, what kind of hardware may be necessary for an I , what kinds of I am out there, and on how many brains a single I may live.He s thought about this fo [...]

  26. In one of Feynman s books he discusses the difference between deep ideas and profound ideas, Character of Physical Law perhaps.Hofstadter is a profound thinker Some of his explorations such as designing fonts seem just silly at first until you understand that he s exploring micro puzzles that include deep challenges His Fluid Analogy stuff contain good examples.If I understand The Strange Loop properly, he s exploring the idea that consciousness if simply an illusion looking at an illusion Wow H [...]

  27. I read Godel, Escher and Bach and Metamagical Themas when I was in college, and was looking forward to a new book from Douglas Hofstadter, but this book was very disappointing I tried to finish it, and kept reading hoping to finally come up with something redeeming about this book, but in the end I put it down around page 200 Too many thought experiments that I thought sounded just a little to simple, and nothing new if you have already read his two prior books I also didn t think much of the re [...]

  28. Gave up about 250 pages in Hofstadter lost me with his meanderings about entwined souls I kept waiting for him to provide some concrete evidence for what he was talking about, but he just keeps making the same few analogies over and over I enjoyed the refresher course on Godel s Incompleteness Theorem, and found the idea of Godel s reflexive use of Principia Mathematica as an analogue for self perception interesting, but in the end I m afraid I ll never be sold on the notion of self as nothing [...]

  29. Hofstadter, I fear, has jumped the shark More than fifty pages into this book, he had yet to offer an intriguing idea worth pursuing this book fully through A lot of this feels like pale egocentricism.

  30. I was torn between a 4 star and 5 star rating for this book On one hand, it has vastly shaped the way I think and has clarified some vague concepts I had floating around for some time On the other hand, I disagreed with his final conclusion about varying levels of consciousness within humans I m certainly on board with the idea that some humans exhibit consciousness than others, and that a single human can exhibit or less depending on their mental state age etc, but I find it incorrect to clai [...]

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