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I Am a Strange Loop
- Gesprochen von: Greg Baglia
- Spieldauer: 16 Std. und 47 Min.
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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.
"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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- Amazon Customer
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.
5 Leute fanden das hilfreich
- Amazon Kunde
"... we're... unpredictable self-writing poems..."
I lost my marbles just when I started looking more deeply into the envelop... ;)
Doug Hofstadter wrote down a really lovely and logically coherent stack of ideas on the strange loopy question of consciousness.
This strange loop is now thinking about a strange loopy way to find a synthesis between Doug Hofstadter's and Galen Strawson's views...
Where Hofstadter sees consciousness emerge in special self referential structures in the physical substrate Stawson claims that the very basic constituting properties of what it means to be conscious are to be assumed in all kinds of interactions of (more or less basic) physical stuff. There's not necessarily a contradiction here.
I'd consider the possibility that both views can be correct or there can be some sort of synthesis even if I have to concede that Strawson seems to think of some sort of "Elan Mental" in all physical stuff... and one could argue that if we assume consciousness is everywhere it's nowhere to be found, because there is no backdrop of anything other than conscious and experiential stuff...
But perhaps in some strange loopy way consciousness is really fundamental to all the reality that we can refer to as physical (and vice versa!)... so we're looking at a Moebius band strange loop of reality./ "neti neti!": neither the physical stuff nor the emergent experiential features of consciuos beings are really real... and both are just as valid... consciousness being fundamental to the emergence of physical reality just as physical reality can be regarded as the the medium and basis for the formation of experiential/ self-conscious strange loop structures... (all of reality being essentially just a perspective of a single sided twisted and looped "eternal golden braid"? that would be a strictly monist perspective.)