If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Tag: mind’s i

Daniel Dennett – The Mind’s I (1981)

Still, the storytelling side of science is not just peripheral, and not just pedagogy, but the very point of it all. Science properly done is one of the humanities, as a fine physics teacher once said.

from the reflections on Hofstadter’s “A Conversation with Einstein’s Brain”

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Daniel Dennett – The Mind’s I (1981)

Science advances haltingly, bumping against the boundaries of the unthinkable: the things declared impossible because they are currently unimaginable.

from the reflections on Hofstadter’s “A Conversation with Einstein’s Brain”

Thomas Nagel – “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” (1974)

Even without the benefit of philosophical reflection, anyone who has spent some time in an enclosed space with an excited bat knows what it is to encounter a fundamentally alien form of life.

appears in The Mind’s I, ed. Daniel Dennett and Douglas R. Hofstadter, 1981

Raymond Smullyan – The Tao Is Silent (1977)

I love the way you say “mere.” You might just as well say that you are living in a “mere” universe.

excerpt (“Is God a Taoist?”)appears in The Mind’s I, ed. Daniel Dennett and Douglas R. Hofstadter, 1981

Raymond Smullyan – The Tao Is Silent (1977)

MORTAL: All right, I’ll grant your point! But what I really want to know is do you exist?

GOD: What a strange question!

MORTAL: Why? Men have been asking it for countless millennia.

GOD: I know that! The question itself is not strange; what I mean is that it is a most strange question to ask of me!

MORTAL: Why?

GOD: Because I am the very one whose existence you doubt! I perfectly well understand your anxiety. You are worried that your present experience with me is a mere hallucination. But how can you possibly expect to obtain reliable information from a being about his very existence when you suspect the nonexistence of the very same being?

excerpt (“Is God a Taoist?”) appears in The Mind’s I, ed. Daniel Dennett and Douglas R. Hofstadter, 1981

Stanislaw Lem – A Perfect Vacuum: Perfect Reviews of Nonexistent Books (1971)

“…the conscious is not – not at all – the highest, serene, sovereign helmsman of all mental phenomena but more nearly a cork upon the fretful waves…”

excerpt (“Non Serviam”) appears in The Mind’s I, ed. Daniel Dennett and Douglas R. Hofstadter, 1981

Stanislaw Lem – The Cyberiad (1974)

“No, Trurl, a sufferer is not one who hands you his suffering, that you may touch it, weigh it, bite it like a coin; a sufferer is one who behaves like a sufferer!”

excerpt (“The Seventh Sally”) appears in The Mind’s I, ed. Daniel Dennett and Douglas R. Hofstadter, 1981

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)

Daniel Dennett – The Mind’s I (1981)

The problems of transferring massive amounts of information between structurally different brains – such as yours and ours – are not insurmountable. The technology that already exists for accomplishing that task may, however, turn out in the end to be the most efficient possible. One of the most recent and advanced examples of that technology is in your hands at this instant.

from the reflections on an excerpt from Justin Leiber’s Beyond Rejection (1980)

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)