I Am a Strange Loop

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Basic Books, Aug 1, 2007 - Science - 436 pages
15 Reviews
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 Gödel, Escher, Bach. Compulsively readable and endlessly thought-provoking, this is a moving and profound inquiry into the nature of mind.

 

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LibraryThing Review

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

LibraryThing Review

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

Contents

Prologue An Affable Locking of Horns
3
Chapter 1 On Souls and Their Sizes
9
Chapter 2 This Teetering Bulb of Dread and Dream
25
Chapter 3 The Causal Potency of Patterns
37
Chapter 4 Loops Goals and Loopholes
51
Chapter 5 On Video Feedback
65
Chapter 6 Of Selves and Symbols
73
Chapter 7 The Epi Phenomenon
87
Chapter 16 Grappling with the Deepest Mystery
227
Chapter 17 How We Live in Each Other
241
Chapter 18 The Blurry Glow of Human Identity
259
Chapter 19 Consciousness Thinking
275
Chapter 20 A Courteous Crossing of Words
281
Chapter 21 A Brief Brush with Cartesian Egos
301
Chapter 22 A Tango with Zombies and Dualism
319
Chapter 23 Killing a Couple of Sacred Cows
333

Chapter 8 Embaring on a StrangeLoop Safari
101
Chapter 9 Pattern and Provability
113
Chapter 10 Godels Quintessential Strange Loop
125
Chapter 11 How Analogy Makes Meaning
147
Chapter 12 On Downward Causality
163
Chapter 13 The Elusive Apple of My I
177
Chapter 14 Strangeness in the I of the Beholder
193
Chapter 15 Entwinement
207
Chapter 24 On Magnanimity and Friendship
343
Epilogue The Quandary
357
Notes
365
Bibliography
377
Permissions and Ackowledgments
383
Index
385
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About the author (2007)

Douglas Hofstadter is College of Arts and Sciences Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. His previous books are the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid; Metamagical Themas; The Mind's I; Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies; and Le Ton beau de Marot. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

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