Gödel, Escher, Bach

A metaphorical fugue on minds and machines

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A classic! Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, also known as GEB, is a 1979 book by Douglas Hofstadter. The tagline "a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll" was used by the publisher to describe the book. By exploring common themes in the lives and works of logician Kurt Gödel, artist M. C. Escher and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, GEB expounds concepts fundamental to mathematics, symmetry, and intelligence. Through illustration and analysis, the book discusses how self-reference and formal rules allow systems to acquire meaning despite being made of "meaningless" elements. It also discusses what it means to communicate, how knowledge can be represented and stored, the methods and limitations of symbolic representation, and even the fundamental notion of "meaning" itself. In response to confusion over the book's theme, Hofstadter has emphasized that GEB is not about mathematics, art, and music but rather about how cognition and thinking emerge from well-hidden neurological mechanisms. In the book, he presents an analogy about how the individual neurons of the brain coordinate to create a unified sense of a coherent mind by comparing it to the social organization displayed in a colony of ants. One of the most severe of all problems of evidence interpretation is that of trying to interpret all the confusing signals from the outside as to who one is. In this case, the potential for intralevel and interlevel conflict is tremendous. The psychic mechanisms have to deal simultaneously with the individual's internal need for self-esteem and the constant flow of evidence from the outside affecting the self-image. The result is that information flows in a complex swirl between different levels of the personality... in an attempt to reconcile what is, with what we wish were. --Douglas R. Hofstadter Goedel, Escher, Bach
@duanewilsonsf Hey Duane, thanks for this concise summary (by the way, not joking). I'm reading this book on Scribd at the moment. It's dope and a very challenging read. Fortunately I love challenges. But I wouldn't be able to describe as well as you just did. Cheers.
@decision_ Thanks Erik, but I got that from a summary, way too complete of a thought to have come from my brain... I did find the existentialist cartoon though! Tip for getting to the end - it's not a bedtime reading book, at least it wasn't for me, I had to dedicate time during the day with coffee to read SLOWLY - I started over twice and went back to the start of a chapter half-way though more than once ;D Rock on! Duane
I love this book and I'm both disappointed and amazed at the fact that it *still* isn't available as an ebook.