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The knowledge contained his this should be required reading for any human. But the writing style is exhausting. The author never used one example when 30 would do, and this is evident in sentences with excessive lists, sequences, sets, and collections. It's also evident in the anecdotes that span tens of pages and seem to offer the same lesson as the previous anecdote did. But I learned a phenomenal hypothesis for how consciousness works and if reading this book is the only way to learn that information, then I recommend this book.
in this thought-provoking analysis, hofstadter explains how the complexities and subtleties (think consciousness, free will and more) of our existence as human beings can be seen as characteristics that arise naturally from the convoluted patterns of activity in our brains.
It hurts me to give a bad review to the author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, which was an inspiration to me when I first read it some 40 years ago. This book rehearses a lot of the territory of GEB, adding new analogies and even a couple of dialogues, but it lacks finesse compared with its predecessor, and adds little.
As well as repeating his arguments about Gödel's theorem, Hofstadter uses this book to discuss his theory of self, "I", or consciousness, which he treats as synonyms. The title of the book says that consciousness is tied to self-representation, the level-breaking recursion that happens in the proof of Gödel's theorem. It's a nice theory, but Hofstadter leaves it as a tantalising possibility, rather than giving any detail.
Indeed, when you start to think seriously about Hofstadter's theory, it falls to pieces. If I were to build a computer that had an internal representation of itself, a "strange loop", would that make the computer conscious? Even if the computer had no sense of pleasure or pain, in fact no sensations at all, and no knowledge of other computers or people or individuals of any kind? Surely a strange loop is not a sufficient condition for consciousness. Or what about an infant human without the mental ability to represent itself. Is it conscious? Surely it is, unless you have hit it on the head with a blunt instrument. So a strange loop is not a necessary condition for consciousness.
If you want to read a far more disciplined analysis of consciousness, I can strongly recommend the works of Hofstadter's friends, David Chalmers and (especially) Daniel Dennett. Or try Thomas Metzinger.
Sorry Hofstadter, you must try harder. But please do, you are a genius, and it is a waste to fritter away your talent writing books like this.
Having enjoyed the author’s ‘Godel, Escher Bach’ some years ago, and spurred on by a deepening interest in human nature, I opened this book with a sense of expectation. I wasn’t disappointed, and found the ideas both deeply thought-provoking and highly satisfying. If you are interested in the enigma of ‘consciousness’, and are open to exploring concepts from multiple viewpoints, this book will intrigue and entertain you. Somewhat like riding an intellectual roller-coaster.
If Douglas Hofstadter was heard and understood, there would be peace in the world. He clarified in this book what the spectrum of feeling is. This is the complete demonstration of empathy. I'd love it if someone could rewrite it to include machine learning edge detection more granularly into his analysis of self perception and representation. Here he sometimes misses the mark ever so slightly. But that is statistic noise: at other times he goes beyond perfection.
His pages on the death of his wife. I was brought to tears and to deepen the already deepest bonds I have with my friends.
Does not do the job for me. I so enjoyed Gödel, Escher, Bach that this seemed as though it would be a winner. It was not. I found it to be turgid, requiring of more determination to read it than was needed to understand it.