Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter


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Godel's Proof

February 19, Archived from the original PDF on Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction — Why Survive? Dower Complete list — — — Douglas Hofstadter. Egbert B.

Metamorphosis II Bookplate Dr. Travaglino Horse No. Wertheim Tetrahedral Planetoide Fish No. Categories : books Cognitive science literature Dialogues M. Namespaces Article Talk. My favorite materialist explanation of consciousness comes from Sartre, who says that consciousness arises out of material existence and serves as a presence to the world. The essence of human consciousness is the ability to negate, to say no, to conceive alternatives l'etre et le neant.

But Sartre does not explain in any detail how this consciousness can emerge from material existence. Rather, he develops a psychology that illustrates and supports his fundamental view of human reality. The core of Hofstadter's consciousness or self, soul, I is the enormous capacity of the human brain for complex operations, among which are feedback loops that grow in number and sophistication until they enable the human consciousness of self, the emergence of an 'I', and our ability to conceive of or mirror others in our minds. This seems to me to be a satisfying, although not necessarily complete, analysis of the problem of human consciousness in a material universe.

Hofstadter's intellectual touchstones lie in mathematics, and particularly number theory; mine are in language, grammar, linguistics. The book's method and organization lead the reader to understand and perhaps accept this huge concept in a way that I again found very frustrating -- often indirect, full of special vocabulary and game-playing, highly personal, idiosyncratic, shifting and evasive, and I would say self-indulgent. More difficult, I thought, than it needed to be. The book demands great patience from the reader. I found myself cursing the author for the way he circled and circled around the subject, bringing in every thought he has ever had about consciousness, and relying to a disturbing extent on his personal experience.

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But I'm going to forgive Hofstadter again because the book has in the end provided me with an enhanced perspective on something that interests me very much. I can also give him credit for having made a case that is certainly unpopular outside of academic circles in these days of established religion and political evangelicalism, and having made it in a way that rises above ad hominem criticism. Indeed, given the way the book is written, it may be destined to forever fly under the Christian Right's polemical radar. A critic could of course say that Hofstadter is mistaken in his conclusions, but there can be no doubt about the authenticity and good will of the effort he has made and the undeniability of the "factual" evidence he marshalls to support his claims.

View all 3 comments. Jan 29, Mishehu rated it it was amazing. As reading experiences go, I'd rate this a 4-star book. It's highly repetitive and speculative; its digressions can annoy; it's cutesy typical DH in a way that can grate after a while; and it takes repeated pot shots at a towering intellect -- Bertrand Russell -- on whose shoulders the author un sufficiently self-acknowledgedly stands.

Goedel, DH's guiding muse, is rightly lionized in this and other DH books; Russell -- standing in for Whitehead as well -- is all but judged a moron for failin As reading experiences go, I'd rate this a 4-star book. Goedel, DH's guiding muse, is rightly lionized in this and other DH books; Russell -- standing in for Whitehead as well -- is all but judged a moron for failing to have seen, in the logical edifice he built, what Goedel later saw.

There's a whiff of ad hominem in this book that I found distasteful. All that said, the idea DH develops in this book is so compelling, and so beautifully constructed, that I can only in good conscience award the book and its author 5 stars. In all my reading of the popular literature on theory of mind and consciousness, only a very few books have made me feel as though, reading them, I were seeing a bit of the veil pulled back.

DH makes as persuasive a case for a non-dualistic theory of mind, and provides as convincing an account albeit, a substantially metaphorical one of what minds do, how selves form, and what it means to perceive as any I have come across. The jury may be out on the validity of the hypotheses and models he sets forth. I for one, however, can't help but think DH and like-minded theorists are onto something big.

Godel's Proof by Ernest Nagel | | Booktopia

View 2 comments. Jan 11, Kristopher rated it did not like it Shelves: philosophy-texts. After about pages of reading I still was unsure what the point was supposed to be. Hoffstadter purportedly explores the nature of self-reference and consciousness, but instead, I think, spends more time pointing out through his writing how clever he is, how feeble he considers Bertrand Russell, and how much of a fan boy he Hoffstadter is of Godel. It's not at all clear to me that this book has any genuine insights to offer, but that may be that it is lost on me as I find his writing style After about pages of reading I still was unsure what the point was supposed to be.

It's not at all clear to me that this book has any genuine insights to offer, but that may be that it is lost on me as I find his writing style clear, but amateurish It is difficult to get into the book for the following reasons: a he subdivides each chapter into sections, each with it's own header--this serves to state what he is about to tell you, but in far fewer words, and in a way that illustrates his wit we get it, you're very clever ; it also makes reading it difficult to maintain because it breaks up the flow of the read These things together make the book uninteresting and no fun to read.

May 03, Greg rated it it was ok. I'm writing this review as I go along because the book is long. I read GEB in college and liked it, though I suspected that his idea that consciousness is a kind of self-referential loop might not bear close scrutiny.

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That's why I picked up this book when I saw it. In particular mosquitoes don't have much of a soul that you coul I'm writing this review as I go along because the book is long.


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In particular mosquitoes don't have much of a soul that you could speak of. And for people who haven't read the book, 'soul' doesn't mean the Christian or religious soul, only a kind of cognition and introspection that seems to be uniquely developed in humans so if you think of humans as having the biggest souls, and define a soul as that human quality of thinking and introspection, then you really are talking about a self-referential loop!

I'm kidding. Hofstadter takes it for granted that readers must have some line on the spectrum from humans to rocks where they demarcate those living things with souls we care about from those things that don't have enough of a soul to concern ourselves with. Though the line is kind of arbitrary, it must exist for each person.

Even moral vegetarians are killers. After all, plants are living things. But I actually don't agree with the position which I think is setting up the rest of this book, though I'm sure there will be more details coming.

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I don't actually see much of difference between inanimate and animate things. I don't see human thought as fundamentally different in nature than other physical phenomena such as the orbit of planets or weather, though it's expressed in a different way. I'm not sure that we're necessarily in safe territory if we say that something like a plant doesn't have consciousness. That's a very biased way of looking at things. Isn't it at least possible that things like plants or worms have a kind of consciousness that is very important to them, but which, being so physically different from them, we can't understand?

Might we not lead ourselves into error by assuming that human consciousness is the highest attainment yet along a one-dimensional scale running from 'no soul' to 'maximum soul? I've only gotten as far as I was before, but I had an additional thought, which is that Hofstadter is basically trying in his vegetarianism discussion to evade the moral culpability that one incurs in killing.

Not only is this a potentially flawed way of thinking, as I said above, it's also an abdication of responsibility for killing.


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Although there are myriad good reasons to be vegetarian or vegan, such as environmental and health concerns, the more enlightened position is to recognize that in order for one being to live, others must be constantly dying. Except that plants don't usually kill other beings in order to live. I found it strange that Hofstadter is trying to so hard not to admit this point. One must recognize and come to accept one's responsibility in killing to see life correctly.

Those who won't kill a deer would kill dozens of chickens or thousands of plants to get the same nutrition that a single deer supplies. Who eats farmed produce kills beasties large and small by the dozen, chemically, mechanically, and by displacement. One can say "I'm resting on the right side of my demarcation line" when one goes vegetarian, but one can only believe it through willful ignorance. Better to draw some other kind of line than a soul-based line, and base it on environmental concerns or cruelty concerns, I think.

When he's talking about how ideas might be represented by patterns in the brain, I'm on board, But then he keeps mixing in some pretty unconvincing bits about why humans are in a completely different class in symbolic understanding according to his definition of "symbol" as, basically, an idea in the brain. You can take it as a general rule that when someone puts a stake in the ground and says "this is where humans are different from animals," that in short order a bunch animals will be found that infringe upon that boundary.

But Hofstadter, probably aware of this phenomenon, wants us not to decide whether a mosquito has "interiority," which is debatable, but to admit that some living things don't and therefore justify his "soul" scale. But I can't. This is an oversimplification. He puts the words of someone who objects into the book, saying "I can't say for sure that a mosquito doesn't have as rich an internal life as I do! Maybe not, but my objection is that this idea of "interiority" is not shown to be the only meaningful expression of consciousness or "souledness.

Gödel's Second Incompleteness Theorem, Proof Sketch

Is this not a refutation of the idea that small-souled animals are edible? Even if they only have one single goal, to reproduce as much as possible before dying, be it pursued by reflex, cognition, or even as in plants by genetic design, it's that very idea that one violates in swatting the mosquito or eating the chicken or pulling out the weed.

I tried to find a textual justification for this position wherein he states that, in his estimation, "interiority" is the same or largely corollated to soul size. This idea seems to be implicit at this point, but I couldn't find it stated directly. But whether he believes this or not, it's problematic for me, because conflating "interiority" with "soul-size" is basically begging the question of what things have big souls by defining "souls" as essentially the thing that we think humans have the most of, and if he's not making that point, then why all of the animal comparisons and asking the readers to admit that animals don't have souls as big as those of humans?

If we took an ant's point of view and tried to define "souls" according to the capacities that make ants unique, humans would come out looking poorly, unable to serve their allotted function in the hive or sacrifice themselves unthinkingly when necessary. So what's the significance? And my complaint specifically is why we're being asked to concede the point.

It doesn't seem to be necessary for his argument, which I think is going to be that the idea of rich "interiority" is essentially a matter of being able to build ideas out of ideas in a self-referential fashion. Does this argument require that we also say that animals without much "interiority" are "small-souled?

Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter
Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter
Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter
Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter
Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter
Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter Goedels proof: With a foreword by D.R. Hofstadter

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