Thursday, September 18, 2008

I am a Strange Loop

I just finished reading this, Douglas Hofstadter's latest book. Apparently, he wrote this to clarify his points from GEB about the nature of consciousness. Certainly, GEB was a challenging work of art, and I am a Strange Loop leaves you with little confusion about his point of view.
Essentially, he is espousing non-dualism, and takes you on a journey of rationalism explaining how consciousness, or self awareness arises purely from physical processes, and not to do with any higher, non-physical spirit, power, magic or divinity.
I found his core message easy to agree with, but his explanations and discussion still gave me a lot to think about, and has changed the way I think about consciousness. Really fascinating stuff, particularly the discussion of the concept of "I" being an illusion, "an hallucination hallucinating an hallucination".
His arguments stem from Gödel's work in mathematics to do with how any sufficiently powerful and flexible logical system can produce self referential statements.
This is really interesting stuff and is written in a very readable manner, much more so than GEB, which is known for its sheer density. I thoroughly recommend it.
I'm not entirely convinced about some of his points about the consciousness of others inside your own mind and levels of consciousness tied to empathy and music, but I'll let you make up your own strange loop.

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