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It's rare enough to read a good book. Still rarer is a great book that expands not just human understanding but also human thought. Perhaps not as groundbreaking a work of science as Darwin's Origin of Species, Godel, Escher, Bach comes close to it in reforming the way we think about the world. If you have read it before, you know its strength (and after 20 years, it is well worth revisiting). If you have not read the book, here is a simple summary of what you've missed.
By looking at the brilliant minds of mathematician Kurt Godel, graphic artist M. C. Escher, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, computer-science and cognitive-science professor Douglas Hofstadter ties together the aesthetic gift of pattern recognition and manipulation with theories on artificial intelligence, human intelligence, and the essence of self-awareness. Does that do the book justice? Not at all; Godel, Escher, Bach cannot be explained without delving deeply into the structure of the book itself and the analysis of self-representation Hofstadter weaves through his appreciation of the art of Bach, the designs of Escher, and the theories of Godel.
Godel, Escher, Bach is not a simple read. The ideas are complex and the logic subtle. But it is a completely satisfying book, and reading it is one of those rare experiences when you leave feeling smarter than when you started.
|Title||:||Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid|
|Number of Pages||:||822 pages|
March 28, 2008
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 glan...
August 04, 2012
As I work my way through this dense book, I am reminded of the Zen tale of 4 blind men and an elephant. To settle a dispute between townspeople over religion, the Zen master had 4 blind men and an elephant led in. With the men not knowing it’s an elephant, the Zen master had each feel a part of t...
December 16, 2008
This is a nice book if you want to understand the Gödel incompleteness proof, and get an account that is both accessible and reasonably rigorous. There's a lot of other fun stuff as well, but it's the Gödel proof that's the core of the book, and if that doesn't turn you on then you aren't really...
July 02, 2010
I could not with a clear conscience recommend this book to everyone, because I'm simply not that cruel. It would be like recommending large doses of LSD to everyone: some small minority will find the experience invaluably enlightening, but for most people it's just going to melt their brain.
July 31, 2015
If I were clever enough, I would write this review as a fugue. This is the formal structure that Hofstadter uses throughout Gödel, Escher, Bach. Whether the whole book is a fugue, I'm not smart enough to tell. But the fugue is used as a metaphor for layers of brain activity, thoughts, superimpose...
November 11, 2016
Expand your mind! Not for the faint of heart & yet by no means dry.
Hofstadter makes some fascinating observations about emergent properties (such as intelligence) and diverts us into the extremely heavy mathematics of Godel via the self referencing systems that are Bach's fugues and Escher's...
August 25, 2017
This book was so metal. Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, which states that all consistent axiomatic formulations of number theory include undecidable propositions, is certainly a large part of what made the book so fascinating and addictive. The issues of self-reference and self-awareness, and how...
August 23, 2007
Conversation overheard at a diner in Upstate NY between Rabbit and Dante. They have been arguing about the existence of God. Dante has been arguing against the proposition.
Rabbit: I have been recently reading a book which helps me to counter many of your points Dante. You should take a look at it...
May 12, 2017
start here---> Bach’s
January 28, 2012
Absolutely beautiful. GEB reads like a collection of sparks, produced when the mind is working at its primed, relaxed, hyper-aware and associative best. I read this over numerous nights, curled up in bed, each time feeling as if I was with a wonderful best friend, with whom I could discuss any to...