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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.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews