I Am a Strange Loop

I Am A Strange Loop book coverI Am A Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter.

As the theory about consciousness proposed by Douglas Hofstadter was being discussed here in Conscious-Robots.com forums and elsewhere, I decided to challenge again my genuinely engineering and scientific intellect with another dangerous incursion into philosophy. Being a researcher in the field of consciousness this is actually a must, given the multidisciplinary nature of the study of consciousness.

Anyhow, I am to some extend an experienced reader of essays on philosophy of mind, and I’ve been surprised by the style and content of I am Strange Loop Book.

Even for those who are not interested in the problem of consciousness, but have some interest in computation, mathematics and logic, the first chapters of the book could be of great value. Hofstadter present in these first chapters some amazing (and easy to understand) mathematical concepts. Also, Russell and Whitehead’s Principa Mathematica are discussed under the view of Gödel achievements. Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and their implications will be the core of Hofstadter’s theory for consciousness.

To be honest, I must say that this was not an easy reading for me (partly because English is not my mother tongue and partly because of the more or less 400 pages, which sometimes I felt there were filled with too much musing). However, the way the book is written, which sometimes I would call an autobiography, helps the reader to understand the exact point that Hofstadter wants to communicate. The way the author reveals his intimate thoughts and feelings help the reader to understand how his arguments about consciousness can be assimilated from a personal point of view (specifically for those who don’t believe in any form of dualism). By the way, Hofstadter includes in the book some arguments and criticism against other philosophical ideas about consciousness. Dualism is particularly discussed under the light of the proposed theory and heavily criticized. In summary, Hofstadter tries to convey the reader a highly counterintuitive idea of consciousness by confronting it to his own personal feelings and other dualist approaches.

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