Godel, Escher, Bach


Godel, Escher, Bach:
An Eternal Golden Braid

by Douglas R. Hofstadter (1999)

In this, the Twentieth-anniversary Edition of Hofstadter’s seminal work, we learn “how it is that animate beings can come out of inanimate matter” through “strange loops” of symbolic manipulation that result in consciousness. The author leans primarily on the seemingly impossible recursion underlying the work of Kurt Godel, M.C. Escher, and J.S. Bach, as well as numerous allusions and humorous anecdotes to show how mind arises out of brain matter. To attempt summary would be an injustice; in fact, Hofstadter, himself, has had to publish several subsequent books, see The Mind’s I, ed. with Daniel C. Dennett (1981) and I Am a Strange Loop (2007), to explain what he thought he had said in GEB. While not a quick read, Hofstadter’s tome will reward the tenacious reader with a mighty sense of wonder, as well as a sense of accomplishment.

Parts of the book:

Preface to GEB‘s Twentieth-anniversary Edition


List of Illustrations

Words of Thanks

Introduction: A Musico-Logical Offering

Three-Part Invention

Chapter I: The MU-puzzle

Two-Part Invention

Chapter II: Meaning and Form in Mathematics

Sonata for Unaccompanied Achilles

Chapter III: Figure and Ground


Chapter IV: Consistency, Completeness, and Geometry

Little Harmonic Labyrinth

Chapter V: Recursive Structures and Processes

Canon by Intervallic Augmentation

Chapter VI: The Location of Meaning

Chromatic Fantasy, and Feud

Chapter VII: The Propositional Calculus

Crab Canon

Chapter VIII: Typographical Number Theory

A Mu Offering

Chapter IX: Mumon and Godel

Part II: EGB

Prelude . . .

Chapter X: Levels of Description and Computer Systems

. . . Ant Fugue

Chapter XI: Brains and Thoughts

English French German Suite

Chapter XII: Minds and Thoughts

Aria with Diverse Variations

Chapter XIII: BlooP and FlooP and GlooP

Air on G’s String

Chapter XIV: On Formally Undecidable Propositions of TNT and Related Systems

Birthday Cantatatata . . .

Chapter XV: Jumping out of the System

Edifying Thoughts of a Tobacco Smoker

Chapter XVI: Self-Ref and Self-Rep

The Magnificrab, Indeed

Chapter XVII: Church, Turing, Tarski, and Others

SHRDLU, Toy of Man’s Designing

Chapter XVIII: Artificial Intelligence: Retrospects


Chapter XIX: Artifical Intelligence: Prospects

Sloth Canon

Chapter XX: Strange Loops, Or Tangled Hierarchies

Six-Part Ricercar





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