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Paperback Godel, Escher, Bach : An Eternal Golden Braid Book

ISBN: 0394745027

ISBN13: 9780394745022

Godel, Escher, Bach : An Eternal Golden Braid

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize A metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll Douglas Hofstadter's book is concerned directly with the nature of "maps" or links between formal...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Brilliant and *still* misunderstood!

I've been reading reviews of GEB for years, and the most fascinating thing about them, aprt from the near-uniform enthusiasm of the readers, is that almost none of the enthusiatic readers have any idea of what the book is actually about! The typical reader seesm to think of GEB as a jouyous romp through any number of fascinating bits of logic, math and science without any idea as to what Hofstader's actually doing. Yes, it's about Goedel, and recursion, and "strange loops", and linguistics Bach and ants and all that- but only trivially. The bulk of the book is taken up with what amounts to a very entertaining tutorial that sets the reader up for the real thesis of the book. What Hofstadter has attempted in GEB is nothing less than a concise, bottom-up theory of mind. You can read it as a theory of AI, or a theory of human intelligence, but either way he's telling you how to construct an intelligent entity. True, he doesn't really have a theory of *how* a self-aware being should arise from his metaphorical anthill, but then, neither does anyone else. But he does have a very good story as to how intelligence does arise in such conditions. If you've read this book before without understanding what his aim was, read it again, with that notion in mind. And if you haven't read it, and you're the sort of person who enjoys mathematic and scientific amusements of any sort, well, read it and discover how much fun a speculative theory can be.

A worthwhile effort to read

I first read GEB some 20 years ago as a high school senior/college freshman. Even though I was a mathematically inclined physics major, an amateur classical musician, and a lightning-fast reader, the book still took me a year to finish. This is the sort of weighty tome where one reads a chapter, and then sets the book aside for awhile to let things settle in. It's no wonder that a poll by New Scientist magazine of highly-regarded scientists had to be rephrased as "EXCEPT for Godel Escher Bach, what scientific or technical book would you take to an uninhabited island?"I will cheerfully confess that I cannot remember all of the details of the book, and that there were times when I simply couldn't get at what Hofstadter was trying to explain. Still, some of Hofstadter's writing has stayed with me the past two decades--his classic analogy of Godel's theorem with a stereo system, his discussion of the difficulties of creating an "accurate" translation (using the beginning of "Crime and Punishment"), his wondrous tying-together of math, music, and art. The totally math-phobic will find these, and many other concepts, readily accessible and even symbol-free. Wish I could say as much for some "general audience" philosophy books!

Way out of my comfort zone, but still great.

I'm here to witness that even people as seriously math-challenged as I am can participate in this wonderful book. It took me a *long* time to read-- I flipped back and forth, beat the pages up, asked my more math-oriented friends for help. I spent forever trying to solve the MU exercise. It was worth it. I still feel like I understood parts of it only in intuitive flashes, but those flashes showed me a room more interesting than most of the well-lit chambers ordinary books provide.Reading Godel, Escher, Bach is like joining a club. People who see you reading it will open spontaneous conversations and often gift you with unexpected insights. (I had a fascinating conversation with a total stranger about Godel's theorem.) Wish I could give more than five stars.

Challengingly Fun

Hofstadter has pulled off a miracle with this book. If you like ideas and like reading about how ideas fit together, then get this book. Definately not a one-sitting book (at least for me) but very interesting and worthwhile. It's like listending to your favorite comedian lecture as a highschool teacher on a subject you can't help but be amazed at. He melds art, music, math, computer science, Zen, and more into a beautiful tapestry of fascination. Highly highly recommended.

An amazing book on AI, number theory, music, and logic

I've always been facinated by the concept of artificial intelligence, and when someone told me how good this book was I went out and bought it, and while I was reading it you could not pry it from my hands it was so interesting. Every chapter you learn at least one thing. It constantly sets you thinking. I was amazed at the connection between goedels theory, escher's art and bach's muxic with it's infinitly repeating themes. And the tortise and hare's in between chapter dialogue really helps you understand the complex concepts.
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