I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas R. HofstadterWhat 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. Hofstadters first book-length journey into philosophy since Godel, Escher, Bach. Compulsively readable and endlessly thought-provoking, this is the book Hofstadters many readers have long been waiting for.
Molecules To Minds - I am a Strange Loop
I Am a Strange Loop
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Thank you! I think, therefore I am. But what is think, and what is I? Humans think because we can and must, for reasons of mental architecture and accidents of evolution; we do so, Hofstadter suggests, by recalling things we have already thought about and employing metaphors, analogies and concrete images to communicate our thinking to others. And what, in the end, is I? There was a problem adding your email address.
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About the Author
A more accurate, if admittedly less wieldy title for Douglas Hofstadter's book about the phenomenon of consciousness would be "One's 'I' Is a Strange Loop". His theory is that that thing which you call your "self", and which feels more real to you than anything else, is in fact a mirage. It's an epiphenomenon which emerges as an unexpected consequence of the fact that your mind perceives and constructs a model of your place in the world. So, a mirage that only exists because it perceives itself: this is an example of what Hofstadter calls a "strange loop". He still recalls the frisson of excitement he felt when first shown how to close a cardboard box by tucking flap A under B, B under C, C under D and D under A. He describes the many happy hours he's spent recording video feedback by pointing a camera at the screen to which it's connected.
From our Lacan episode and my comparison of Lacan with Sartre , you might think that this "no self" deal was just a Continental idea. If you remember back to our Owen Flanagan interview , however, you'll know that besides this being a doctrine in Buddhsim this is also one of the main positions within the analytic philosophy of mind, due perhaps largely to Derek Parfit , though the idea goes back to Hume at least. One author I recently spent time studying through the Not School philosophy of mind group is Douglas Hofstadter , who I'm here going to call "Doug" so I don't have to type and potentially misspell "Hofstadter" 30 times. I Am a Strange Loop , which is the one I read, is his more recent work , meant to expand upon the view of consciousness put forward in his earlier work. This part of the book, though interesting, is not actually essential for making his point: we're all aware or should be of how 0's and 1's in computing are sufficient to represent any arbitrary content.