GODEL ESCHER BACH BY DOUGLAS HOFSTADTER PDF

The main chapters alternate with dialogues between imaginary characters, usually Achilles and the tortoise , first used by Zeno of Elea and later by Lewis Carroll in " What the Tortoise Said to Achilles ". These origins are related in the first two dialogues, and later ones introduce new characters such as the Crab. These narratives frequently dip into self-reference and metafiction. Word play also features prominently in the work.

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For my generation, the one that grew up in the s, it was an endless source of intellectual stimulation—you could dip into it whenever and wherever you liked, and it was like a drug trip. If you were actually on drugs when you opened the book, it was possibly even better. Hofstadter is an American professor of cognitive science—a discipline that spans many fields, from psychology to neurology to the fine arts to gaming to artificial intelligence.

And GEB cuts across all these areas to study human consciousness, in a vastly entertaining and intriguing way, for the layman. There are entire chapters which are mind-bending puzzles in their structure, and most of them have no answers, because our brains are not capable of answering them. GEB deals with the limitations of the mind and logic. I am a Cretan. And what is false? OK, these are playful little conundrums.

I am taking this definition from dictionary. It could be a fully visible network like a railway system, an intranet or the bureaucracy in a particular department of a government. But GEB is concerned with the mind as a system.

The mind cannot know itself fully. And all the structure of logic that we have built fails when taken to the ultimate test: the Cretans. The Dutch graphic artist M. Escher spent his life creating works of art that defy our cognitive senses. You do not know whether cascades are falling down or up, whether people are walking up stairs or down or left or right.

Johann Sebastian Bach composed fugues that defy the mathematics that form the bedrock of Western classical music. How did Escher and Bach accomplish—consistently—what they did? They knew the limits of what human minds can conceive, and then they stepped across the lines.

So, the human mind is capable of twisting the three dimensions which define our cognition, and the rule of the octave in the case of music and doing something that we cannot explain in the universe that our perceptions reveal to us. What we see, experience, take as truth, are based on axioms. But if you remember your Euclidean geometry, it is built on axioms. Quantum physics has clearly proved that most of these axioms are pathetically invalid, at least in the sub-atomic world.

Hofstadter, at his core, is a computer scientist, though his interests and work extend to music, the visual arts and the very essence of human creativity. He wants to crack that puzzle. How do we create? But our minds keep thinking up new ideas, meta-ideas, that raise an eyebrow to the system, mathematically proved beyond doubt and never challenged.

There is no better book written on human consciousness, based on science and the visceral drive of humanity to know how their mind works and whether they can be made better, and can computers ever supplement them so that we can all chill?

But will that ever be an occasion for chilling? For those who have watched A Space Odyssey, there could be food for thought. HAL the supercomputer. To those with a spiritual bent of mind, and who have found a way out, GEB is not for you.

Or maybe it is. But GEB is perhaps also a dangerous book. A friend read the book obsessively,for months, and committed suicide. I have found no reason why he did that. I think it is an invigorating book.

Rest in peace, VV. Sandipan Deb is the editorial director of swarajyamag.

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Gödel, Escher, Bach: When logic flies out of the window

If you open up the "20th Anniversary Edition" of GEB, you'll see that the first thing Douglas Hofstadter does in the introduction - the very first thing - is grouse that nobody seems to understand what his book is about. Not even its publishers or readers who just absolutely love it. A quick glance at the back cover will give you the same impression - even the glowing, two-sentence blurbs are hilariously vague, all of them variations on the theme of "Well, that certainly was Yes, If you open up the "20th Anniversary Edition" of GEB, you'll see that the first thing Douglas Hofstadter does in the introduction - the very first thing - is grouse that nobody seems to understand what his book is about. Yes, quite a wonderful something indeed. Or put less delicately, how are you supposed to know whether reading all dense, sprawling pages is worth your while? The short answer is: "Read this book if you like to think about thinking, as well as to think about thinking about thinking.

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Godel, Escher, Bach : An Eternal Golden Braid

Douglas Hofstadter combines and links the various themes associated with the characters in the title and some others in fascinating and imaginative ways. He explores similarities between Art, Philosophy and Science and relates these to the nature of intelligence, and the possibilities of artificial intelligence. It helps if you have some basic understanding of formal logic and an affinity with structures such as recursion, fugues and self-reference. But I doubt if any of this is necessary. There are sections that look a little dated now, after so much advance in genetics and computing in particular.

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For my generation, the one that grew up in the s, it was an endless source of intellectual stimulation—you could dip into it whenever and wherever you liked, and it was like a drug trip. If you were actually on drugs when you opened the book, it was possibly even better. Hofstadter is an American professor of cognitive science—a discipline that spans many fields, from psychology to neurology to the fine arts to gaming to artificial intelligence. And GEB cuts across all these areas to study human consciousness, in a vastly entertaining and intriguing way, for the layman. There are entire chapters which are mind-bending puzzles in their structure, and most of them have no answers, because our brains are not capable of answering them.

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