I Am a Strange Loop

Front Cover
Basic Books, Mar 27, 2007 - Philosophy - 412 pages
15 Reviews
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.

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User Review  - KirkLowery - LibraryThing

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. Read full review

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User Review  - David_David_Katzman - LibraryThing

I have an interesting perspective on this title because the book I read just before it was The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, a book grounded in Zen Buddhist philosophy. Tolle declares that the Ego (or ... Read full review


Facing the Physicality of Consciousness
From the Majestic Dolomites to Gentle Bloomington
The HorsiesandDoggies Religion
A Few Last Random Observations
Guinea Pig
Reversion Reevolution
Give Me Some Men Who Are Stoutersouled Men
A Counterfactual Stanley
The Inert Sponges inside our Heads
The Stately Dance of the Symbols
Brief Debriefing
Soaps in Sanskrit
Trapped at the High Level
Sperry Redux
Multiple Strange Loops in One Brain

Hattie the Chocolate Labrador
Interiority What Has it and to What Degree?
Lights On?
What Is a Brain Structure?
A Simple Analogy between Heart and Brain
The Terribly Thirsty Beer Can
Who Shoves Whom Around Inside the Cranium?
Thinkodynamics and Statistical Mentalics
The Prime Mover
Neurons and Dominos
The Strange Irrelevance of Lower Levels
The Careenium
Taking the Reductionistic View of the Careenium
Who Shoves Whom Around inside the Careenium?
The First Flushes of Desire
The Slippery Slope of Teleology
Fallacy the Second
God Gödel Umlauts and Mystery
The Timid Theory of Types
Two Video Voyages Three Decades Apart
Enigmatic Emergent Reverberation
A Mathematical Analogue
Perceptual Looping as the Germ of Iness
Reception versus Perception
Mosquito Symbols
An Interlude on Robot Vehicles
The Radically Different Conceptual Repertoire of Human Beings
Episodic Memory
As Real as it Gets
The Manyfaceted Intellectual Grounding of Reality
No Luck No Soap No Dice
No Sphere No Radius No Mass
The Prime Mover Redux
I Am Not God
Flap Loop Lap Loop
Seeking Strange Loops in Feedback
Seeking Strange Loops in the Russellian Gloom
I Cant Tell You How Indescribably Nondescript It Was
A Peanutbutter and Barberry Sandwich
Idealistic Dreams about Metamathematics
Principia Mathematica and its Theorems
Where Theres Pattern Theres Reason
The Mathematicians Credo
The Long Search for Proofs and for their Nature
Gödel Encounters Fibonacci
A Tiny Spark in Gödels Brain
Miraculous Lockstep Synchrony
Very Big Integers Moving in Lockstep with Formulas
Prim Numbers
The Uncanny Power of Prim Numbers
How to Stick a Formulas Gödel Number inside the Formula
The Trickiest Step
An Elephant in a Matchbox is Neither Fish Nor Fowl
The Double Aboutness of Formulas in PM
Exploiting the Analogies in Everyday Situations
The Latent Ambiguity of the Village Bakers Remarks
Pickets at the Posh Shop
Analogy Once Again Does its Cagey Thing
How Can an Unpennable Line be Penned?
Bertrand Russells Worst Nightmare
Incompleteness Derives from Strength
Consistency Condemns a Towering Peak to Unscalability
Downward Causality in Mathematics
The Upsidedown Perceptions of Evolved Creatures
Proceeding Slowly Towards the Bottom Level
The Patterns that Constitute Experience
Am I a Strange Marble?
Internalizing Our Weres Our Wills and Our Woulds
Making Tosses Internalizing Bounces
The Lockingin of the I Loop
But Am I Real?
Entwined Feedback Loops
One Privileged Loop inside our Skull
A Twirlwind Trip to Twinwirld
Pairsonal Identity in Twinwirld
Post Scriptum re Twinwirld
Soulmates and Matesouls
Children as Gluons
A Random Event Changes Everything
Post Scriptum
Universal Machines
Universal Beings
Being Visited
Chemistry and Its Lack
How Much Can One Import of Anothers Interiority?
Doubleclicking on the Icon for a Loved Ones Soul
Mosaics of Different Grain Size
I Host and Am Hosted by Others
Telepresence versus Real Presence
Which Viewpoint is Really Mine?
Varying Degrees of Being Another
Sympathetic Vibrations
Am I No One Else or Am I Everyone Else?
Halos Afterglows Coronas
So Wheres Consciousness in my Loopy Tale?
Symbols Trigger More Symbols
Welltold Stories Pluck Powerful Chords
What Pushovers We Are
The Murky Whereabouts of Cartesian Egos
The Radical Nature of Parfits Views
Morphing Parfit into Bonaparte
On Who and on How
Trains Who Roll
Pedantic Semantics?
Two Daves
The Nagging Worry that One Might Be a Zombie
A Sliding Scale of Élan Mental
Quibbling in Universe Q
A Cerulean Sardine
Glebbing and Knurking
Violets Are Red Roses Are Blue
The Hedge Maze of Life
Are There Small and Large Souls?
The Magnanimity of Albert Schweitzer
Does Conscience Constitute Consciousness?
Dig that Profundity
Alle Grashüpfer Müssen Sterben
Not a Tall
The Lure and Lacunas of Nondualism
A Soft Poem

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About the author (2007)

Douglas R. Hofstadter is College Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. His previous books are the Pulitzer Prizewinning Gödel, Escher, Bach; Metamagical Themas, The Mind's I, Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, Le Ton Beau de Marot, and Eugene Onegin.

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