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Douglas R. Hofstadter quotes (showing 1-30 of 45)

“It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order - and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern
“Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law”
Douglas R. Hofstadter
“Meaning lies as much
in the mind of the reader
as in the Haiku.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“How gullible are you? Is your gullibility located in some "gullibility center" in your brain? Could a neurosurgeon reach in and perform some delicate operation to lower your gullibility, otherwise leaving you alone? If you believe this, you are pretty gullible, and should perhaps consider such an operation.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Sometimes it seems as though each new step towards AI, rather than producing something which everyone agrees is real intelligence, merely reveals what real intelligence is not. ”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop
“The paraphrase of Gödel's Theorem says that for any record player, there are records which it cannot play because they will cause its indirect self-destruction.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“I would like to understand things better, but I don’t want to understand them perfectly.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern
“The key question is, no matter how much you absorb of another person, can you have absorbed so much of them that when that primary brain perishes, you can feel that that person did not totally perish from the earth... because they live on in a 'second neural home'?... In the wake of a human being's death, what survives is a set of afterglows, some brighter and some dimmer, in the collective brains of those who were dearest to them... Though the primary brain has been eclipsed, there is, in those who remain... a collective corona that still glows.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter
“What is an "I", and why are such things found (at least so far) only in association with, as poet Russell Edson once wonderfully phrased it, "teetering bulbs of dread and dream" -- that is, only in association with certain kinds of gooey lumps encased in hard protective shells mounted atop mobile pedestals that roam the world on pairs of slightly fuzzy, jointed stilts?”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“A mirror mirroring a mirror”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop
“This idea that there is generality in the specific is of far-reaching importance.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Saying that studying the brain is limited to the study of physical entities would be like saying that literary criticism must focus on paper and bookbinding, ink and its chemistry, page sizes and margin widths, typefaces and paragraph lengths, and so forth.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop
“[...] provability is a weaker notion than truth”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“We don't want to focus on the trees (or their leaves) at the expense of the forest.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop
“People enjoy inventing slogans which violate basic arithmetic but which illustrate “deeper” truths, such as “1 and 1 make 1” (for lovers), or “1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 1” (the Trinity). You can easily pick holes in those slogans, showing why, for instance, using the plus-sign is inappropriate in both cases. But such cases proliferate. Two raindrops running down a window-pane merge; does one plus one make one? A cloud breaks up into two clouds -more evidence of the same? It is not at all easy to draw a sharp line between cases where what is happening could be called “addition”, and where some other word is wanted. If you think about the question, you will probably come up with some criterion involving separation of the objects in space, and making sure each one is clearly distinguishable from all the others. But then how could one count ideas? Or the number of gases comprising the atmosphere? Somewhere, if you try to look it up, you can probably fin a statement such as, “There are 17 languages in India, and 462 dialects.” There is something strange about the precise statements like that, when the concepts “language” and “dialect” are themselves fuzzy.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“I can't help but recall, at this point, a horribly elitist but very droll remark by one of my favorite writers, the American "critic of the seven arts", James Huneker, in his scintillating biography of Frédéric Chopin, on the subject of Chopin's étude Op. 25, No. 11 in A minor, which for me, and for Huneker, is one of the most stirring and most sublime pieces of music ever written: “Small-souled men, no matter how agile their fingers, should avoid it.”

"Small-souled men"?! Whew! Does that phrase ever run against the grain of American democracy! And yet, leaving aside its offensive, archaic sexism (a crime I, too, commit in GEB, to my great regret), I would suggest that it is only because we all tacitly do believe in something like Hueneker's' shocking distinction that most of us are willing to eat animals of one sort or another, to smash flies, swat mosquitos, fight bacteria with antibiotics, and so forth. We generally concur that "men" such as a cow, a turkey, a frog, and a fish all possess some spark of consciousness, some kind of primitive "soul" but by God, it's a good deal smaller than ours is — and that, no more and no less, is why we "men" feel that we have the perfect right to extinguish the dim lights in the heads of these fractionally-souled beasts and to gobble down their once warm and wiggling, now chilled and stilled protoplasm with limitless gusto, and not feel a trace of guilt while doing so.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Some of us, perhaps all of us, believe that it is legitimate to kill enemy soldiers in a war, as if war were a special circumstance that shrinks the sizes of enemy souls.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop
“No, no - I think about thinking”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop
“I wish my wish would not be granted!”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“I enjoy acronyms. Recursive Acronyms Crablike "RACRECIR" Especially Create Infinite Regress”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Supperational thinkers, by recursive definition, include in their calculations the fact that they are in a group of superrational thinkers.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern
“Please, Oh please, publish me in your collection of self-referential sentences!”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern
“A term meant to convey a person's inability to make sense of the numbers that run their lives.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter
“This computer-generated pangram contains six a's, one b, three c's, three d's, thirty-seven e's, six f's, three g's, nine h's, twelve i's, one j, one k, two l's, three m's, twenty-two n's, thirteen o's, three p's, one q, fourteen r's, twenty-nine s's, twenty-four t's, five u's, six v's, seven w's, four x's, five y's, and one z.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern
“Deep understanding of causality sometimes requires the understanding of very large patterns and their abstract relationships and interactions, not just the understanding of microscopic objects interacting in microscopic time intervals.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop
“Concepts in the brains of humans acquired the property that they could get rolled together with other concepts into larger packets, and any such larger packet could then become a new concept in its own right. In other words, concepts could nest inside each other hierarchically, and such nesting could go on to arbitrary degrees.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop
“And one of my firmest conclusions is that we always think by seeking and drawing parallels to things we know from our past, and that we therefore communicate best when we exploit examples, analogies, and metaphors galore, when we avoid abstract generalities, when we use very down-to-earth, concrete, and simple language, and when we talk directly about our own experience.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter
“We are all egocentric, and what is realest to each of us, in the end, is ourself.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop
“what happens on the lower level is responsible for what happens on the higher level, it is nonetheless irrelevant to the higher level. The higher level can blithely ignore the processes on the lower level.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop

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