I Am a Strange Loop

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Basic Books, Aug 1, 2007 - Philosophy - 436 pages
44 Reviews
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One of our greatest philosophers and scientists of the mind asks, where does the self come 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 readable and endlessly thought-provoking, this is a moving and profound inquiry into the nature of mind.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JamesBeach - LibraryThing

This is Pop, painless to read but mostly nonsense. Hofstadter tells a fairy tale about how minds are made, and I cannot recall a single claim from the text that is testable. The work is unserious ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Paul_S - LibraryThing

I liked the idea of distributed consciousness. It reminds me of the idea of electron's position being a probability cloud where even though there's a small area where it's likely to be technically the ... Read full review

All 7 reviews »


This Teetering Bulb of Dread and Dream
The Causal Potency of Patterns
Loops Goals and Loopholes
On Video Feedback
Of Selves and Symbols
Strangeness in the I of the Beholder
Grappling with the Deepest Mystery
How We Live in Each Other
The Blurry Glow of Human Identity
Consciousness Thinking
A Courteous Crossing of Words
A Brief Brush with Cartesian Egos

The Epi Phenomenon
Embarking on a StrangeLoop Safari
Pattern and Provability
Gödels Quintessential Strange Loop
How Analogy Makes Meaning
On Downward Causality
The Elusive Apple of My I
A Tango with Zombies and Dualism
Killing a Couple of Sacred Cows
On Magnanimity and Friendship

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About the author (2007)

Douglas Hofstadter is College of Arts and Sciences Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. His other books include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid; Metamagical Themas; The Mind's I; Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies; Le Ton beau de Marot; and Surfaces and Essences, with Emmanuel Sander. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.