Derek Bridge's Reviews > I Am a Strange Loop

I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter
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M_50x66
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Aug 12, 11


Hofstadter is best known for Godel, Escher Bach, a book that profoundly influenced me in my years as an undergraduate. He revisits the same themes in this new book, giving a very personal and credible account of consciousness or mind or soul (all amounting to the same thing).

He is particularly good on how our brain activity can be explained at different levels; our representations of self and others; the sizes of souls (degrees of consciousness); and how consciousness is an outcome not a cause.

Perhaps I reveal a lack of sophistication in saying, though, that I've never really given much credence to his analogy with Godel's incompleteness theorems. I'm sure Hofstadter would protest but I find myself wondering whether this isn't an attempt to inveigle something special and difficult to comprehend into an otherwise straightforwardly materialistic account of consciousness - akin to the kind of other-worldly magic that a good scientific account of consciousness is trying to escape.

That criticism aside, anyone with an interest in these subjects will enjoy this book. It is also extraordinarily personal, a lament to his wife, dead of cancer, its very tenderness ensuring that this materialistic account does not preclude our humanity.
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