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J. Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
John Derbyshire
Susan Blackmore
Leonardo On-Line
Martin Gardner (pdf)
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Douglas Hofstadter

I am a strange loop

In 1979 Douglas Hofstadter shot to fame with his book Gödel, Escher Bach. He realised, however, that readers weren't picking up what he thought was one of its main messages, that is the parallelism between Gödel's incompleteness theorem creating metamathematics within mathematics itself, and the emergence of mind from inanimate matter. In I am a strange loop he gives a more direct explanation of this parallelism. The book looks at feedback loops and at how higher order systems emerge from simple entities, as well as examining what we mean by reality and how we should think of the soul.

I wasn't convinced that this book was a nail in the coffin of Dualism, as Hofstadter seemed to think - remember that some people, such as Roger Penrose, use Gödel's theorem to argue for a more dualistic view of mind. Rather I would say that the book helps to explain how the self, rather than consciousness, arises. The book is written in an easy to read style with plenty of examples of Hofstadter's ideas relate to his own life. In particular, his thoughts on how one self might occupy more than one body are likely to be of interest to a wide readership.

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Hardcover 436 pages  
ISBN: 0465030785
Salesrank: 330322
Weight:1.55 lbs
Published: 2007 Basic Books
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Hardcover 436 pages  
ISBN: 0465030785
Salesrank: 291149
Weight:1.55 lbs
Published: 2007 Basic Books
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Hardcover 436 pages  
ISBN: 0465030785
Salesrank: 415339
Weight:1.55 lbs
Published: 2007 Basic Books
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Product Description
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 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.