The Mind's I: Fantasies And Reflections On Self & Soul available in Paperback
With contributions from Jorge Luis Borges, Richard Dawkins, John Searle, and Robert Nozick, The Mind's I explores the meaning of self and consciousness through the perspectives of literature, artificial intelligence, psychology, and other disciplines. In selections that range from fiction to scientific speculations about thinking machines, artificial intelligence, and the nature of the brain, Hofstadter and Dennett present a variety of conflicting visions of the self and the soul as explored through the writings of some of the twentieth century's most renowned thinkers.
About 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. Daniel C. Dennett is Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor, Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I picked up this book partly because I found Goedel, Escher, Bach a brilliant read, and partly because I find the subject of consciousness interesting in itself. This book features numerous articles and excerpts from a wide array of authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Alan Turing, Richard Dawkins, and a number of less well known (outside computer science) intellects. These passages all have some relevance to the topics of "Self", "Soul", "Consciousness", and "Free Will", and the pieces are each analysed by one or both of the editors. I found quite a few of these to be worth while reading, and some were very interesting and enlightening. There were a few that were excercises in idiocy, and ultimately a waste of time to read, with the simple point they were trying to illustrate being obvious from the start. Also large excerpts from GEB and the Selfish Gene were present, which was annoying as I already have them and have read them within recent memory, though readers unfamiliar with these works should not mind this, and to be fair GEB would bear re-reading more than most books.On the whole I found the opinions of the editors and articles to be too close to the strong AI position, with the brain frequently being assumed analogous in structure to a digital computer, and mappable. I am glad I have read Roger Penrose's books on consciousness ,(which are not as readable as this by the way ) , otherwise I may well have been swept along with these views and their otherwise unavoidable implications. A frequently made assumption of this book is that the brain is identically mappable, (thus preserving self), though there is currently no reason to believe it is, with accurate quantum measurements not ever being possible under current theory. This makes a lot of the articles seem irrelevent to reality, though, never the less interesting. Overall, depsite this, it is an interesting read, and there is a lot in it of worth. It is a longish book, but the type is large enough, and it didn't take me that long to get through it. It will disappoint those expecting another must-read like Goedel, Esher, Bach, but for others less picky it should make do.