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I Am a Strange Loop

Sprecher: Greg Baglia
Spieldauer: 16 Std. und 47 Min.
3.5 out of 5 stars (3 Bewertungen)

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Inhaltsangabe

One of our greatest philosophers and scientists of the mind asks where the self comes from - and how our selves can exist in the minds of others. 

Can thought arise out of matter? Can self, soul, consciousness, "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. The most central and complex symbol in your brain is the one called "I". The "I" is the nexus in our brain, one of many symbols seeming to have free will and to have gained the paradoxical ability to push particles around, rather than the reverse.  

How can 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 laws of physics?  

These are the mysteries tackled in I Am a Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter's first book-length journey into philosophy since Gödel, Escher, Bach. Compulsively listenable and endlessly thought-provoking, this is a moving and profound inquiry into the nature of mind.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2007 Douglas R. Hofstadter (P)2018 Hachette Audio

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"I Am a Strange Loop is vintage Hofstadter: earnest, deep, overflowing with ideas, building its argument into the experience of reading it - for if our souls can incorporate those of others, then I Am a Strange Loop can transmit Hofstadter's into ours. And indeed, it is impossible to come away from this book without having introduced elements of his point of view into our own. It may not make us kinder or more compassionate, but we will never look at the world, inside or out, in the same way again." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

"Nearly thirty years after his best-selling book Gödel, Escher, Bach, cognitive scientist and polymath Douglas Hofstadter has returned to his extraordinary theory of self." (New Scientist)

"I Am a Strange Loop scales some lofty conceptual heights, but it remains very personal, and it's deeply colored by the facts of Hofstadter's later life. In 1993 Hofstadter's wife Carol died suddenly of a brain tumor at only 42, leaving him with two young children to care for.... I Am a Strange Loop is a work of rigorous thinking, but it's also an extraordinary tribute to the memory of romantic love: The Year of Magical Thinking for mathematicians." (Time)

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Nerdy, sometimes tangent yet poetic and rational

I listened to this after reading Daniel Dennett's "Consciousness Explained". They are actually pretty similar on the overall take on consciousness (and the authors reference each other pretty often in both books - not surprising since the two are friends and have similar views). However, they differ greatly in style.

Dennett's book is more on-topic, better at explaining the issue at hand as early and deep as possible. He has a more "scientific" style, using thought experiments, philosophical debates and definitions rather than personal anecdotes. But this might come off as cold, academical, maybe even "too materialistic" at times.

On the other hand, Hofstadter has a more enthusiastic, story-telling style which can be poetic and captivating, but he sometimes dives too deep in examples and anecdotes or secondary topics such as Godel's numbers and Principia Mathematica that it can come off as "tangent". To be honest, I was so bored in such chapters that I was about to just throw the book away. If you feel that way at some point: don't stop reading. It gets better. Towards the end of the book, it starts to stay more on topic, plus show some really artistic ways to tie up the loose ends and summarize the issue at hand in a poetical way.

We all have an innate fear of explaining consciousness, mainly because of our fear that explaining it will kill its magic. We try not to think about it in a materialistic way, we feel it's somehow special and cannot be fully explained. This book appreciates this feeling, but debates and wins over it in a beautiful way.

To sum up: This is a really good book on consciousness if you want a good materialistic explanation of the issue in a more lightweight, story-like way. However, it may feel tangent, almost off-topic at times because of this. If you want to complement it with a more debate-like, systematic explanation, read Dennett's "Consciousness Explained". But whichever you choose, go read the other one afterwards, because I think they complement each other in a beautiful way.