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Metamagical Themas: Questing For The Essence Of Mind And Pattern (original 1985; edition 1996)

by Douglas Hofstadter

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1,945133,507 (4.09)16
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Title:Metamagical Themas: Questing For The Essence Of Mind And Pattern
Authors:Douglas Hofstadter
Info:Basic Books (1996), Paperback, 880 pages
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Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern by Douglas Hofstadter (1985)

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Trite, boring.

Update a day later:
Covers topics similar to those covered in Godel, Escher, Bach, but not nearly in as entertaining a manner, the intellectual depth is lame, the Lisp stuff is boring to someone who already is familiar with at least one computer language, which presumably is more than half of the audience for any Hofstadter book, the Prisoner's Dilemma material covers ground that has been well-trod over the decades by many, many, many people - though perhaps this is something that a non-economist reader wouldn't know - the attempts to tie the subject matter of many of the chapters to nuclear war at the end are thunderingly unsubtle (maybe this was less noticeable when these articles originally appeared spread over months or years), the material on creativity is an attempt to pad an idea fit for five pages over tens of pages. Etc.

Some authors write several great books. Some authors are one-book authors. Hofstadter is the latter. Read GEB. Don't read anything else by this guy, certainly not Metamagical Themas or the execrable I am a Strange Loop. ( )
  Carnophile | Nov 2, 2014 |
While this is not exactly a review, I thought I'd leave a few comments here. I recently got this on Kindle, so I've been slowly revisiting a few choice bits here and there. For what it's worth, I was dumbfounded to see this was available on Kindle. Given that his most popular and best selling book Gödel, Escher, Bach is still not available for Kindle, I took it for granted that none of his books were available on Kindle (except, perhaps, I am a Strange Loop, published, if I recall correctly, after Kindles were already on the market).

Anyway, after downloading this, I started flipping through the chapters wondering which I should reread and was a bit stunned to be reminded that there are 3 chapters on Lisp. What's interesting about this is imagining this text appearing in Scientific American. While I have fond memories of what SciAm used to be, it's hard to gel that with the image of SciAm that I currently have in my head. The days of meaty, tangible material in technical magazine that you could actually sit down and do something with (c.f., Byte), seem so long ago (Make and the recently deceased, in print format, Linux Journal, not withstanding) that it's hard to picture actual articles on Lisp appearing in what was, in fact, a fairly popular science magazine. This is not to say that SciAm is not still of good quality, but it's certainly a very different beast than what it used to be. These days, I would basically call it a nicer version of Discover (again, not to denigrate that magazine, but it certainly lacks depth in most cases).

To be continued...

( )
1 vote tlockney | Sep 7, 2014 |
This book has probably influenced my brain chemistry in all sorts of subtle and stealthy ways. I think I've read it at least four times. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
Not quite as good as Godel, Escher and Bach, but still great ( )
  hcubic | Jan 30, 2013 |
In this entertaining and provocative book named after his recent column in Scientific American, Douglas Hofstadter presents a dazzling array of observations and ideas about how we perceive and think. With profound insight and an irrepressible sense of fun, he explores such subjects as artificial intelligence; sexist language in Chinese; experiments with the Prisoner's Dilemma; genetic evolution and its software counterpart; beautiful mathematical shapes known as "strange attractors"; nuclear war; and even National Enquirer hoaxes. Balanced between art and science, magic and logic, humor and rigor, Metamagical Themas (a rearrangement of the letters in "mathematical games") probes the deepest paradoxes and mysteries of the human mind and heart.
2 vote rajendran | Jan 20, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Douglas Hofstadterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dabekaussen, EugèneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lange, Barbara deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maters,TillyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465045669, Paperback)

Hofstadter’s collection of quirky essays is unified by its primary concern: to examine the way people perceive and think.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:14 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

These brilliant essays (mostly from Scientific American, but several previously unpublished) look at chaos and Chopin, grammar and genetics, racism and Rubik's cube, and countless other subjects. From all this, Hofstadter makes a rich tapestry and throws startling new light on his central theme: how people - and machines - think and feel.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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