If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Tag: douglas hofstadter

Douglas Hofstadter – The Mind’s I (1981)

This dichotomy of the creative self into a conscious part and an unconscious part is one of the most disturbing aspects of trying to understand the mind. If–as was just asserted–our best ideas come burbling up as if from mysterious underground springs, then who really are we? Where does the creative spirit really reside? Is it by an act of will that we create, or are we just automata made out of biological hardware, from birth until death fooling ourselves through idle chatter into thinking that we have “free will”? If we are fooling ourselves about all these matters, then whom–or what–are we fooling?

from the reflections on C. Cherniak’s “The Riddle of the Universe and Its Solution” (1978)

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Douglas Hofstadter – The Mind’s I (1981)

“Mind is a pattern perceived by a mind.” This is perhaps circular, but it is neither vicious nor paradoxical.

from the reflections on “Prelude…Ant Fugue”, itself from Hofstadter’s GEB (1979)

Douglas Hofstadter – The Mind’s I (1981)

We are all animists to some degree. Some of us attribute “personalities” to our cars, others of us see our typewriters or our toys as “alive,” as possessors of “souls.” It is hard to burn some things in a fire because some piece of us is going up in flames.

from the reflections on an excerpt of Terrel Miedaner’s The Soul of Anna Klane (1977)

Douglas Hofstadter – The Mind’s I (1981)

We would just like to know one thing: what is the difference between a simulated song and a real song?

from the reflections on “The Princess Ineffabelle”, an excerpt from Stanislaw Lem’s “The Tale of the Three Story-telling Machines” (1974)

Douglas Hofstadter – The Mind’s I (1981)

There are branches on which the Borges story did not get written. There is even a branch in which this entire Reflection got written exactly as you see it here, except that it ended with a different flutzpah.

from the reflections on H. Morowitz’s 1980 article “Rediscovering the Mind”

Douglas Hofstadter – The Mind’s I (1981)

There will be some crossover point where hot and cold are equally likely. It will then be like flipping a coin. (This quantum water faucet is sadly reminiscent of many a bathroom shower.)

from the reflections on H. Morowitz’s 1980 article “Rediscovering the Mind”

Douglas Hofstadter – Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979)

Numbers as realities misbehave. However, there is an ancient and innate sense in people that numbers ought not to misbehave. …there ought to be a way of talking about numbers without always having the silliness of reality come in and intrude.

Douglas Hofstadter – Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979)

The first human to conceive of the immense computing potential of machinery was the Londoner Charles Babbage (1792-1871). A character who could almost have stepped out of the pages of the Pickwick Papers, Babbage was most famous during his lifetime for his vigorous campaign to rid London of “street nuisances”—organ grinders above all. These pests, loving to get his goat, would come and serenade him at any time of day or night, and he would furiously chase them down the street.

Douglas Hofstadter – Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979)

It is of course important to try to maintain consistency, but when this effort forces you into a stupendously ugly theory, you know something is wrong.

Douglas Hofstadter – Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979)

In short, Gödel showed that provability is a weaker notion than truth, no matter what axiomatic system is involved.