Gödel, Escher, Bach Quotes

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Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter
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Gödel, Escher, Bach Quotes Showing 1-30 of 46
“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 Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“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
“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
“This idea that there is generality in the specific is of far-reaching importance.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“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
“[...] provability is a weaker notion than truth”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“I wish my wish would not be granted!”
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
“It now becomes clear that consistency is not a property of a formal system per se, but depends on the interpretation which is proposed for it. By the same token, inconsistency is not an intrinsic property of any formal system.”
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
“Perhaps the greatest contradiction in our lives, the hardest to handle, is the knowledge 'There was a time when I was not alive, and there will come a time when I am not alive.' On one level, when you 'step out of yourself' and see yourself as 'just another human being', it makes complete sense. But on another level, perhaps a deeper level, personal nonexistence makes no sense at all. All that we know is embedded inside our minds, and for all that to be absent from the universe is not comprehensible. This is a basic undeniable problem of life...”
Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“For now, what is important is not finding the answer, but looking for it.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Why is some music so much deeper and more beautiful than other music? It is because form, in music, is expressive–expressive to some strange subconscious regions of our minds. The sounds of music do not refer to serfs or city-states, but they do trigger clouds of emotion in our innermost selves; in that sense musical meaning IS dependent on intangible links from symbols to things in the world–those 'things', in this case, being secret software structures in our minds.”
Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“A computer program can modify itself but it cannot violate its own instructions — it can at best change some parts of itself by *obeying* its own instructions.”
Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Since, as is well know, God helps those who help themselves, presumably the Devil helps all those, and only those, who don't help themselves. Does the Devil help himself?”
Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“I personally cannot imagine that consciousness will be fully understood without reference to Godelian loops or level-crossing feedback loops.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“What does it matter if two brains are isomorphic, or quasi-isomorphic, or not isomorphic at all? The answer is that we have an intuitive sense that, although other people differ from us in important ways, they are still 'the same' as we are in some deep and important ways. It would be instructive to be able to pinpoint what this invariant core of human intelligence is, and then to be able to describe the kinds of 'embellishments' which can be added to it, making each one of us a unique embodiment of this abstract and mysterious quality called 'intelligence.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“But finally I realized that to me, Godel and Escher and Bach were only shadows cast in different directions by some central solid essence. I tried to construct the central object, and came up with this book.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Consistent or inconsistent, no one is exempt from the mystery of the self. Probably we are all inconsistent. The world is just too complicated for a person to be able to afford the luxury of reconciling all of his beliefs with each other. Tension and confusion are important in a world where many decisions must be made quickly. Miguel de Unamuno once said, 'If a person never contradicts himself, it must be that he says nothing.' I would say that we all are in the same boast as the Zen master who, after contradicting himself several times in a row, said to the confused Doko, 'I cannot understand myself.'.”
Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Computers are ridiculous. So is science in general. CHURCH_TURING Thesis, Theodore Rosak Version
This view is prevalent among certain people who see in anything smacking of numbers or exactitude a threat to human values. It is too bad that they do not appreciate the depth and complexity and beauty involved in exploring abstract structures sch as the human mind, where, indeed, one comes in intimate contact with the ultimate questions of what to be human is.”
Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“To paraphrase Descartes again: "I think; therefore I have no access to the level where I sum.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Therefore Godel's theorem had an electrifying effect upon logicians, mathematicians, and philosophers interested in the foundations of mathematics, for it showed that no fixed system, no matter how complicated could represent the complexity of the whole numbers: 0,1,2,3,.....”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“GEB is in essence a long proposal of strange loops as a metaphor for how selfhood originates, a metaphor by which to begin to grab a hold of just what it is that makes an "I" seem, at one and the same time, so terribly real and tangible to its own possessor, and yet also so vague, so impenetrable, so deeply elusive.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“If words were nuts and bolts, people could make any bolt fit into any nut: they'd just squish the one into the other, as in some surrealistic painting where everything goes soft. Language, in human hands, becomes almost like a fluid, despite the coarse grain of its components.”
Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“There exist formal systems whose negative space (set of non-theorems) is not the positive space (set of theorems) of any formal system.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Godel showed how a statement about any mathematical formal system (such as the assertion that Principia Mathematica is contradiction-free) can be translated into a mathematical statement inside number theory (the study of whole numbers). In other words, any metamathematical statement can be imported into mathematics, and in its new guise the statement simply asserts (as do all statements of number theory) that certain whole numbers have certain properties or relationships to each other. But on another level, it also has a vastly different meaning that, on its surface, seems as far removed from a statement of number theory as would be a sentence in a Dostoevsky novel.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“It was a hundred years later that Einstein gave a theory (general relativity) which said that the geometry of the universe is determined by its content of matter, so that no one geometry is intrinsic to space itself. Thus to the question, "Which geometry is true?" nature gives an ambiguous answer not only in mathematics, but also in physics”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
“Consistent or inconsistent, no one is exempt from the mystery of the self. Probably we are all inconsistent. Te world is just too complicated for a person to be able to afford the luxury of reconciling all of his beliefs with each other. Tension and confusion are important in a world where many decisions must be made quickly. Miguel de Unamuno once said, 'If a person never contradicts himself, it must be that he says nothing.' I would say that we all are in the same boast as the Zen master who, after contradicting himself several times in a row, said to the confused Doko, 'I cannot understand myself.”
Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

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