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I Am a Strange Loop

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,169 Ratings  ·  362 Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Hofstadter—who won a Pulitzer for his 1979 book, Gödel, Escher, Bach—blends a surprising array of disciplines and styles in his continuing rumination on the nature of consciousness. Eschewing the study of biological processes as inadequate to the task, he argues that the phenomenon of self-awareness is best explained by an abstract mod
Kindle Edition, 6132 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Basic Book (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David Katzman
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 thinking mind) is the cause of all the poisons of our civilization and the only hope for us as a species is to embrace awareness and presence and escape the thinking mind that feeds our needs for material possessions, success, achievement, domination, and so on. This book is in fact an entire logicia ...more
Clay Kallam
I read Douglas Hofstadter”s “Godel, Escher, Bach” long ago – sometime in the early ‘80s, and I remember thinking “I really need to read this again. I liked this book, but there was a lot I think I missed.”

When I saw a copy of “I Am a Strange Loop” in a used-book store, and Hofstadter said in the intro it was his update of “Godel, Escher, Bach,” I figured this was my chance to rediscover the concepts in “Godel, Escher, Bach.”

Well, I did, but I can’t say I was happy with the result. Hofstadter’s t
Apr 30, 2008 shawn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: reviews
i am sorry to give this book one measly star. i am a huge admirer of hofstadter's work. i would fanatically recommend any of his books, which are all fantastic and required reading by this point for all intellectually-minded people interested in "putting it all together". i was therefore ecstatic that he should finally publish another book, but crushed upon reading it.

the principle point is that though he purports to have some new big answer, this book merely retraces terrain he covered decades
May 13, 2008 Craig rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The purpose of this book is to explain the mystery of consciousness. He admits off the top that the concept of the mind and conscious thought is quite difficult to nail down, and probably impossible to draw a distinct line upon. Is a mosquito conscious? After all, it, like us, seems to have a will to live, and responds to environmental stimuli in ways that benefit itself. If not a mosquito, is a bee conscious? A fish? A snake? A dog?

He does so by describing the mind's process of something like "
Jul 11, 2011 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I agree. He is a strange loop. The first third of this book is the Hofstadter that I expected to read - dragging me through a layperson's guide to prime numbers, squares, the Fibonacci series, Principia Mathematica and Bertrand Russell's attempt to banish paradox from mathematics, and finally, Godel's discovery of the ultimate self reflective mathematical string which shattered Russell's dreams. This was tough going, but ultimately worth it for this non-mathematician. Along the way we learned th ...more
Chuck McCabe
Dec 22, 2007 Chuck McCabe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patient game lovers
Twenty-eight years ago, Douglas Hofstadter published a book titled "Goedel, Escher, Bach" that earned him instant academic renown and a cultlike following. A mathematician friend recommended the book to me, and I tried mightily to read it, keeping at it more because of my admiration for my friend that for the experience of reading the book. It was either too indirect, too intricately argued, or too Germanic for me to follow, and after months of off and on attempts I finally put it aside.

So why d
Sep 17, 2008 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, on consciousness and what makes a human an "I," is methodical and exuberant, technical and personal. Reading it was a long, thoughtful journey. It's not an easy book. The workings of the human brain are described metaphorically (and not physiologically), and often those metaphors are mathematical. Sometimes, too, Hofstadter employs playful analogies to show how consciousness works, and how it doesn't work. (He is not a dualist; consciousness arises from physical laws and not from a ki ...more
Feb 14, 2011 Zach rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t like this book, although I agree with almost all of its assertions. Conceptually, I guess you could say, I enjoyed it, but the presentation - the language of the author, the over-long format, and the strange mixture of hard math and elementary philosophy - diminished and diluted the content to the point that it was barely worth reading. The first problem is Hofstadter’s “aww shucks” Uncle Fluffy writing style. His language is so steeped in a fireside chat mentality that the meat of his ...more
Jan 20, 2011 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This is merely a re-hash of Hofstadter's justly famous Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, with some ideas from Le Ton Beau de Marot thrown in but most of the fun stuff taken out; if you've read those, you don't need to read this. If you've only read GEB, then read this instead of Le Ton Beau de Marot unless you have a particular interest in the art/skill of translation.

This isn't a bad book, apart from the constant use of reference to the "dear reader", it's just redundant because of
Jan 10, 2009 Fred rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading "I Am A Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter. The development of his theme is slow, so I read the epilogue to find out if he was coming to anything other than where he seemed to be going. The epilogue seems to be about the same as the first few chapters.

I skipped around the book a little and found this intriguing discussion on page 322 called 'Two Daves.' He presents a mental experiment of two universes, identical in every detail except that universe Q has the stuff of consci
Feb 22, 2008 Claus rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2-stars
I read Hofstadter's "Gödel, Escher, Bach" many years ago and was completely taken aback by the author's brilliant style and insight.

I read Hofstadter's "Metamagical Themas" many years ago and was fascinated by the author's vast area of expertise.

I read Hofstadter's "Le Ton Beau de Marot" a few years ago and was amazed by the author's enormous knowledge.

I just finished Hofstadter's "I Am a Strange Loop" and was thoroughly disappointed.

The author uses 300+ pages to say something that could just as
Feb 17, 2016 Mishehu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As reading experiences go, I'd rate this a 4-star book. It's highly repetitive and speculative; its digressions can annoy; it's cutesy (typical DH) in a way that can grate after a while; and it takes repeated pot shots at a towering intellect -- Bertrand Russell -- on whose shoulders the author un(sufficiently)self-acknowledgedly stands. (Goedel, DH's guiding muse, is rightly lionized in this and other DH books; Russell -- standing in for Whitehead as well -- is all but judged a moron for failin ...more
Miloš Kostić
Po Daglasu Hofštateru su nijanse sive, nasuprot crno-belom svetu, i dalje jednodimenzionalan pogled na svet i u njegovim opisima sveta postoje i sve ostale boje, kao i njihove nijanse. Dakle, sve je mnogo šarenije nego što izgleda. Kaže da nešto može biti i tačno i netačno, kao i nešto između. Tako je, iako je njegov pogled na svet čisto materijalistički on došao do zaključka da postoji „duša“. Naravno ne „ona“ duša. Kod njega su svi pojmovi „ličnost“, „svest“, „duša“, „ja-stvo“ i slični – sinon ...more
Randolph Carter
Not as dense or rich as Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid and more focused on the "scientific" side of things without all the wonderful digressions (you have to read GEB to understand). Still Hofstadter plays enough mind games to make the going entertaining and challenging.
Basically an argument for the nature of consciousness that all but proves Descartes' proposition. But Hofstadter presents a pretty convincing argument for his theories on why I think I am I.

The one place where he go
Malini Sridharan
Jul 29, 2009 Malini Sridharan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The meat of this book, which uses an analogy with Godel's critique of the Principia Mathematica to explain how the concept of an "I" might be an emergent phenomenon of self referential loops in the brain, is interesting. I had a lot of issues with the structure of the argument, which was too dependent on the analogy. I think there are much better ways to make this point than by talking about math. Like, I don't know, maybe talking about BIOLOGY.

The last hundred pages or so of the book annoyed m
Jul 19, 2008 Brady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Douglas Hofstader is a wonder, tackling the almost incomprehensible Big Question of "What is the I?" with relative clarity and wit. He is a master of metaphor and analogy, eschewing a microscopic understanding of how the brain works to giving a sensible, rational (though revolutionary) macroscopic explanation of what we commonly refer to as "the soul". Hofstader is certainly no Cartesian dualist, but his ideas are neither what you would expect from a material monist.

Hofstader wrote this book und
Aug 23, 2015 Fredrik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fakta
Begyne å lese denne ca i februar, og fullførte nå (august). Kort sagt handler boken jeg-et, hva skal til for å utgjøre et "jeg", hva er bevissthet, og lignende temaer. Det er veldig interessant, og jeg håpte å få noe nyttig ut av boken.

Dessverre viser det seg at Hofstadter er utrolig glad i metaforer. Så glad i dem at 3/4 av boken er metaforer og lignelser for forskjellige poenger han prøver å vise. Dette funker til dels bra, til dels blir det utrolig langtekkelig å lese. Så jeg har kost meg mye
Mar 05, 2009 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
On the face of it, this is an interesting book. The author draws analogies between Godel's incompleteness theorem of mathematical logic and the question of the meaning of identity and consciousness. And on the plus side, at least Hofstadter's discussion of Godel was refreshingly correct technically -- it helps having had some formal mathematical training.

But I found his numerous and lengthy discursions to be, for starters, only tangentially and vaguely associated with Godel incompleteness. In my
Jul 12, 2016 Kristopher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy-texts
After about 200 pages of reading I still was unsure what the point was supposed to be. Hoffstadter purportedly explores the nature of self-reference and consciousness, but instead, I think, spends more time pointing out through his writing how clever he is, how feeble he considers Bertrand Russell, and how much of a fan boy he (Hoffstadter) is of Godel. It's not at all clear to me that this book has any genuine insights to offer, but that may be that it is lost on me as I find his writing style ...more
I enjoyed much of Hostetter's account of the ways in which a strictly biological account of cognition fails to grasp the complexities of consciousness and identities. I did find, however, his account of how identity is dispersed and externalized the be somewhat unconvincing, thought not because I disagree with the concept but with his interpretation of the concept. He tries to argue through several chapters that the decentered--"strange loopiness"--of consciousness comes about because cognition ...more
David Gross
Jun 03, 2008 David Gross rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Greg Junell
Shelves: geeky, non-fiction
I got about three-quarters of the way through and by then it seemed like Hofstadter had completely lost the plot.

He makes some bold claims about the nature of consciousness, but he doesn't use his terms and concepts rigorously enough to keep his arguments straight, and he doesn't do much work to back them up anyway.

It amounts to listening to some friend who got stoned and had an amazing idea. If that friend happens to be Douglas Hofstadter, it's probably worth your while to stick around for a wh
Dec 24, 2008 Kevan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-science
In one of Feynman's books he discusses the difference between deep ideas and profound ideas, Character of Physical Law perhaps.

Hofstadter is a profound thinker. Some of his explorations such as designing fonts seem just silly at first until you understand that he's exploring micro-puzzles that include deep challenges. His Fluid Analogy stuff contain good examples.

If I understand The Strange Loop properly, he's exploring the idea that consciousness if simply an illusion looking at an illusion. Wo
Jan 06, 2009 Ron rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read Godel, Escher and Bach and Metamagical Themas when I was in college, and was looking forward to a new book from Douglas Hofstadter, but this book was very disappointing. I tried to finish it, and kept reading hoping to finally come up with something redeeming about this book, but in the end I put it down around page 200. Too many thought experiments that I thought sounded just a little to simple, and nothing new if you have already read his two prior books. I also didn't think much of the ...more
Matthew Sturges
Gave up about 250 pages in. Hofstadter lost me with his meanderings about entwined souls. I kept waiting for him to provide some concrete evidence for what he was talking about, but he just keeps making the same few analogies over and over. I enjoyed the refresher course on Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, and found the idea of Godel's reflexive use of Principia Mathematica as an analogue for self-perception interesting, but in the end I'm afraid I'll never be sold on the notion of self as nothin ...more
Sep 17, 2010 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this book goes into some depth concerning Bertrand Russell's and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica, and then the work of Kurt Godel. Hofstadter has an interesting description and point of view about this area. But the later portions of the book become steeped in philosophy, and quite frankly, became a bit boring. On the other hand, I had read his book Godel, Escher, Bach long ago, and found it to be excellent.
Apr 02, 2008 Richard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hofstadter, I fear, has jumped the shark. More than fifty pages into this book, he had yet to offer an intriguing idea worth pursuing this book fully through. A lot of this feels like pale egocentricism.
Jun 03, 2015 Dominikus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 02, 2009 gingerkitty rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I got 2 chapters in, I was not fascinated...
May 31, 2014 Williwaw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hofstadter presents what strikes me as a convincing philosophical model of a non-dualistic world in which it is unnecessary to divide our experiences into material and spiritual components, or to hold on to the familiar and comforting concept of an immaterial "soul."

Along the way, the reader is required to jump some pretty formidable hurdles, including a chapter that summarizes Kurt Godel's famous incompleteness theorem. I banged myself up pretty good trying to jump that one (but thanks to some
Gary Fixler
Oct 14, 2015 Gary Fixler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, from-ben
Sorry, it's terrible. Rambling, restating things not just over and over in a chapter, but throughout the book, inventing bizarre analogies and living inside of them for extended periods (and bringing them up again in every chapter), asking me question after maddening philosophical "whoa dude" question with no answers in sight, and worst of all, filling page after page with overly-detailed, boring, pointless, drawn-out lists, full of flowery, verbose, grandiloquent, repetitive, tortuous, circumlo ...more
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Douglas Richard Hofstadter is an American academic whose research focuses on consciousness, thinking and creativity. He is best known for his book Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, first published in 1979, for which he was awarded the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction.

Hofstadter is the son of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert Hofstadter. Douglas grew up on the campus of St
More about Douglas R. Hofstadter...

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“In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.” 34 likes
“A mirror mirroring a mirror” 17 likes
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