Literary Birthday – 15 February – Douglas Hofstadter

Happy Birthday, Douglas Hofstadter, born 15 February 1945.


  1. It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a façade of order – and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.
  2. You can imagine a soul as being a detailed, elaborate pattern that exists very clearly in one brain. When a person dies, the original is no longer around. But there are other versions of it in other people’s brains. It’s a less detailed copy, it’s coarse-grained.
  3. Meaning lies as much in the mind of the reader as in the Haiku.
  4. Sometimes it seems as though each new step towards AI, rather than producing something which everyone agrees is real intelligence, merely reveals what real intelligence is not.
  5. Irrationality is the square root of all evil.
  6. We create an image of who we are inside our self. The image then becomes very deeply entrenched, and it becomes the thing that we attribute responsibility to – we say “I”, “I” did this because “I” wanted to, because “I” am a good person or because “I” am a bad person. The loop is the fact that we represent our selves, our desires, hopes, dreads and dreams: it is the way in which we conceive of ourselves, rather than the way we conceive of Mount Everest or of a tree. And I say it exists entirely in the loop: the self is an hallucination hallucinated by an hallucination.
  7. The following sentence is false. The preceding sentence is true.

Douglas Hofstadter is an American professor of cognitive science. His book, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid won both the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction and a National Book Award for Science. His 2007 book I Am a Strange Loop won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 15th February 2014