Godel, Escher, Bach : An Eternal Golden Braid

Overview

Douglas Hofstadter’s book is concerned directly with the nature of “maps” or links between formal systems. However, according to Hofstadter, the formal system that underlies all mental activity transcends the system that supports it. If life can grow out of the formal chemical substrate of the cell, if consciousness can emerge out of a formal system of firing neurons, then so too will computers attain human intelligence. Gödel Escher and Bach is a wonderful exploration of fascinating ideas at the heart of ...

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Overview

Douglas Hofstadter’s book is concerned directly with the nature of “maps” or links between formal systems. However, according to Hofstadter, the formal system that underlies all mental activity transcends the system that supports it. If life can grow out of the formal chemical substrate of the cell, if consciousness can emerge out of a formal system of firing neurons, then so too will computers attain human intelligence. Gödel Escher and Bach is a wonderful exploration of fascinating ideas at the heart of cognitive science: meaning, reduction, recursion, and much more.

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Editorial Reviews

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Great Minds Think Alike

It's rare enough to read a good book. Still rarer is a great book that expands not just human understanding but also human thought. Perhaps not as groundbreaking a work of science as Darwin's Origin of Species, Godel, Escher, Bach comes close to it in reforming the way we think about the world. If you have read it before, you know its strength (and after 20 years, it is well worth revisiting). If you have not read the book, here is a simple summary of what you've missed.

By looking at the brilliant minds of mathematician Kurt Godel, graphic artist M. C. Escher, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, computer-science and cognitive-science professor Douglas Hofstadter ties together the aesthetic gift of pattern recognition and manipulation with theories on artificial intelligence, human intelligence, and the essence of self-awareness. Does that do the book justice? Not at all; Godel, Escher, Bach cannot be explained without delving deeply into the structure of the book itself and the analysis of self-representation Hofstadter weaves through his appreciation of the art of Bach, the designs of Escher, and the theories of Godel.

Godel, Escher, Bach is not a simple read. The ideas are complex and the logic subtle. But it is a completely satisfying book, and reading it is one of those rare experiences when you leave feeling smarter than when you started.

—Greg Sewell

Martin Gardner
...a major literary event. -- Scientific American
Booknews
<:st> Cited in . Reprints the 1979 Pulitzer-Prize winning text that explores hierarchical systems, self-reference, and the cause of consciousness. Occasional playful dialogues<-->including some based on musical forms<-->employ characters borrowed from a little-known work by Lewis Carroll. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140289206
  • Publisher: Gardners Books
  • Publication date: 3/30/2000

Meet the Author

Douglas R. Hofstadter is College Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. His previous books are the Pulitzer Prizewinning Gödel, Escher, Bach; Metamagical Themas, The Mind’s I, Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, Le Ton Beau de Marot, and Eugene Onegin.

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Table of Contents

Overview
List of Illustrations
Words of Thanks
Pt. I GEB
Introduction: A Musico-Logical Offering 3
Three-Part Invention 29
Ch. I The MU-puzzle 33
Two-Part Invention 43
Ch. II Meaning and Form in Mathematics 46
Sonata for Unaccompanied Achilles 61
Ch. III Figure and Ground 64
Contracrostipunctus 75
Ch. IV Consistency, Completeness, and Geometry 82
Little Harmonic Labyrinth 103
Ch. V Recursive Structures and Processes 127
Canon by Intervallic Augmentation 153
Ch. VI The Location of Meaning 158
Chromatic Fantasy, And Feud 177
Ch. VII The Propositional Calculus 181
Crab Canon 199
Ch. VIII Typographical Number Theory 204
A Mu Offering 231
Ch. IX Mumon and Godel 246
Pt. II EGB
Prelude ... 275
Ch. X Levels of Description, and Computer Systems 285
... Ant Fugue 311
Ch. XI Brains and Thoughts 337
English French German Suite 366
Ch. XII Minds and Thoughts 369
Aria with Diverse Variations 391
Ch. XIII BlooP and FlooP and GlooP 406
Air on G's String 431
Ch. XIV On Formally Undecidable Propositions of TNT and Related Systems 438
Birthday Cantatatata ... 461
Ch. XV Jumping out of the System 465
Edifying Thoughts of a Tobacco Smoker 480
Ch. XVI Self-Ref and Self-Rep 495
The Magnificrab, Indeed 549
Ch. XVII Church, Turing, Tarski, and Others 559
SHRDLU, Toy of Man's Designing 586
Ch. XVIII Artificial Intelligence: Retrospects 594
Contrafactus 633
Ch. XIX Artificial Intelligence: Prospects 641
Sloth Canon 681
Ch. XX Strange Loops, Or Tangled Hierarchies 684
Six-Part Ricercar 720
Notes 743
Bibliography 746
Credits 757
Index 759
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