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I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter
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I Am a Strange Loop (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Douglas Hofstadter

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2,132395,298 (3.63)20
Hofstadter's long-awaited return to the themes of Gödel, Escher, Bach--an original and controversial view of the nature of consciousness and identity. What do we mean when we say "I"? 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? This book argues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains. Deep down, a human brain is a chaotic 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." But how can such a mysterious abstraction be real--or is our "I" merely a convenient fiction?--From publisher description.… (more)
Member:an_eternalstudent
Title:I Am a Strange Loop
Authors:Douglas Hofstadter
Info:Basic Books (2007), Hardcover, 412 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:philosophy of mind, consciousness, mathematics

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I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter (2007)

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English (35)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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 above and not nearly as much fun as GEB.

Here's what it's about: minds - specifically what they are/where they come from. Hofstadter's thesis is very plausible to me, despite my disagreeing with some specific things he says. It seems like it might be scientifically testable, too. My beef with Hofstadter is that his research does not seem focused on testing what seems to be the crux axiom of his theory. I'm not sure off the top of my head to do it but Hofstadter has had since some time in the 1970s to think of a way...maybe it isn't testable after all, but if it isn't then it's just a waste of time and money.

Also Hofstadter HATES mosquitos because they bite him and I think that he subconsciously believes they have no minds simply because of this! ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
I have too many things to say about this book to be able to put them inside a review, so I'll try to keep it only about the essentials.

This book gave me answers to questions I've been asking myself ever since I was a teenager. This changed the way I view reality at a fundamental level. I am now wholeheartedly on board with Hofstadters theory regarding consciousness and self. He makes the strongest cases I've ever been given about what our sense of self is and how consciousness arises inside humans. It also happens to fit perfectly with my own theories, which I've been toying with the past months.

This book is partly mathematics, partly science & linguistics but most of all is philosophical, but a brand of philosophy that's heavily grounded in reality by use of analogy. This is the best case I've seen yet for proving the feasibility of artificial general intelligence. I might add to this review after a few more days of pondering. ( )
  parzivalTheVirtual | Mar 22, 2020 |
Smart and well written, but a bit bland and meandering for Hofstadter's standards. ( )
  mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |
This is an interesting book of Hofstadter's: it's less playful than GEB and more metaphysical, I do get the sense of the years passed between the books. Full of good analogies (that did become a little hackneyed by the end but, in some ways, that helped drive the point home). Overall, it left me thinking abut all the times I repeat "I" over and over again and how odd that is. I would read GEB first if for no other reason then that it'll make the obligatory Gödel's incompleteness theorem part make more sense. I feel like this is a good book to revisit ( )
  Lorem | Jun 28, 2015 |
Once more Douglas tries to convince us that consciousness is merely a complex algorithm(s). Although he fails in this, his readers learn a lot. ( )
  KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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To my sister Laura,
who can understand,
and to our sister Molly,
who cannot.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Hofstadter's long-awaited return to the themes of Gödel, Escher, Bach--an original and controversial view of the nature of consciousness and identity. What do we mean when we say "I"? 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? This book argues that the key to understanding selves and consciousness is a special kind of abstract feedback loop inhabiting our brains. Deep down, a human brain is a chaotic 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." But how can such a mysterious abstraction be real--or is our "I" merely a convenient fiction?--From publisher description.

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Book description
Nel 1979, un giovane esperto di intelligenza artificiale sorprese il mondo con un libro di enorme mole, labirintico, geniale e di immenso successo. Il libro era "Gödel, Escher e Bach" e il suo autore Douglas Hofstadter. Attraverso logica matematica, musica, paradossi grafici e linguistici, Hofstadter cercava di dare sostanza a un'intuizione che sembrava scandalosa: la mente umana potrebbe non essere altro che un computer, i neuroni dei semplici chip, l'intelligenza mera capacità di eseguire i programmi scritti nel cervello. A quasi trent'anni di distanza, molte cose sono cambiate: i computer non occupano più gli scantinati delle università ma sono in tutte le case e in tutte le tasche, e gli studi sul cervello hanno raggiunto un grado di raffinatezza quasi inimmaginabile. Eppure, resta intatto l'ultimo mistero: dove si trova e come è fatta l'anima? Cos'è che chiamiamo "io" quando parliamo con noi stessi? Cosa resta di noi (se resta qualcosa) dopo la nostra morte fisica? Nel libro di Hofstadter troviamo tutta la sua abilità di divulgatore, capace di spaziare dalla letteratura all'informatica, dai giochi di parole ai dibattiti più attuali della filosofia, dagli esempi più curiosi agli esperimenti mentali più originali e vividi.
(piopas)
Haiku summary
I am so meta.
More meta than you, beeyotch!
Just like this haiku.

(Carnophile)

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