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I Am a Strange Loop     - Douglas Hofstadter

Paperback Published: July 2008
ISBN: 9780465030798
Number Of Pages: 436

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Can thought arise out of matter? Can self, soul, consciousness, "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. The most central and complex symbol in your brain is the one called "I." The "I" is the nexus in our brain, one of many symbols seeming to have free will and to have gained the paradoxical ability to push particles around, rather than the reverse.

How can 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 laws of physics?

These are the mysteries tackled in "I Am a Strange Loop," Douglas Hofstadter's first book-length journey into philosophy since "Godel, Escher, Bach." Compulsively readable and endlessly thought-provoking, this is a moving and profound inquiry into the nature of mind.

Industry Reviews

"(I am a Strange Loop) pulls off some remarkable achievements. For example, in a matter of 40 readable and even enjoyable pages, Hofstadter manages to explain Kurt Godel's incompleteness theorem in a way I have a never seen attempted before... he whisks us away to tangle with ever more layers of paradox and wonderfully mind-wrenching questions... (A) pacy mix of stories, metaphors, questions and explanations..." Nature "(A) brilliant American prof called Douglas Hofstadter has just written a book (about consciousness) that may point us in the right direction. And if I spend the next 700 words raving incoherently about it, that's because it is the most gripping 400 pages I've read in years..." The Times "In this pleasant and intriguing book, Douglas R Hofstadter returns to the themes of his 1979 bestseller Godel, Escher, Bach, ostensibly focusing on the nature of selfhood and consciousness. Hofstadter is a supremely skilful master of an educational alchemy that can, at the turn of a page, transform the most abstract and complex of thoughts into a digestible idea that is both fun and interesting. Times Higher Education Supplement Almost thirty years after the publication of his well-loved Godel, Escher, Bach, Hofstadter revisits some of the same themes. The purpose of the new book is to make inroads into the nexus of self, self-awareness and consciousness by examining self-referential structures in areas as diverse as art and mathematics. Hofstadter is the man for the job. His treatment of issues is approachable and personal, you might even say subjective. His discussion is never over technical and his prose never over-bearing. He stays close to the surface of real life at all times, even as he discusses matters of the highest level of abstraction, and his book is full of fresh and rich real-life examples that give texture and authenticity to the discussion." TLS If you enjoy such brain-bending questions and are willing to struggle with some deep mathematical ideas along the way, then you'll certainly enjoy this book... (I)f this book works its magic on you, you will no longer want to ask "why am I inside this body and not a different one?" Because you'll know what it means to be just a strange loop." BBC Focus Magazine "Nearly thirty years after his best-selling book Godel, Escher, Bach, cognitive scientist and polymath Douglas Hofstadter has returned to his extraordinary theory of self." New Scientist"

The most thought provoking books on the self I've read


This is one of the most thought provoking books I've ever read. It's a fantastic introduction to Hofstadter's work and includes key excerpts from his more laborious reads (Godel, Escher, Bach etc.). Hofstadter inhabits the intersection between philosophy of the self and the technical nature of identity and self perception. He writes both from the perspective of a philosopher, and as a scientist working on the practicalities of developing Artificial Intelligence. Extremely insightful and fits nicely alongside his other work. If you're not quite ready to tackle GEB then either I Am A Strange Loop or The Mind's I are great introductions.



I Am a Strange Loop

5.0 1


Words of Thanksp. ix
Preface: An Author and His Bookp. xi
Prologue: An Affable Locking of Hornsp. 3
On Souls and Their Sizesp. 9
This Teetering Bulb of Dread and Dreamp. 25
The Causal Potency of Patternsp. 37
Loops, Goals, and Loopholesp. 51
On Video Feedbackp. 65
Of Selves and Symbolsp. 73
The Epi Phenomenonp. 87
Embarking on a Strange-Loop Safarip. 101
Pattern and Provabilityp. 113
Godel's Quintessential Strange Loopp. 125
How Analogy Makes Meaningp. 147
On Downward Causalityp. 163
The Elusive Apple of My "I"p. 177
Strangeness in the "I" of the Beholderp. 193
Entwinementp. 207
Grappling with the Deepest Mysteryp. 227
How We Live in Each Otherp. 241
The Blurry Glow of Human Identityp. 259
Consciousness = Thinkingp. 275
A Courteous Crossing of Wordsp. 281
A Brief Brush with Cartesian Egosp. 301
A Tango with Zombies and Dualismp. 319
Killing a Couple of Sacred Cowsp. 333
On Magnanimity and Friendshipp. 343
Epilogue: The Quandaryp. 357
Notesp. 365
Bibliographyp. 377
Permissions and Acknowledgmentsp. 383
Indexp. 385
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780465030798
ISBN-10: 0465030793
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 436
Published: July 2008
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.8 x 17.8  x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.45
Edition Number: 1

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