I wish I could say I was a big fan of Hofstadter. His Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
was one of the first real books I read and put me on the path of philosophy and computer science, his work with Dennet has been a guide throughout my study years, and his Le Ton Beau De Marot
is one of the best books on translation that I know of. However, this latest tome (which at almost six hundred pages one is justified in calling it) does not live up to the standard that Hofstadter has set for himself.
The premise of this book is that analogy (metaphors) are at the core of all thinking. As is usual with Hofstadter's work, this premise is tested and demonstrated using linguistics and introspection. Giving examples of the way people communicate, and thereby often misinterpret one another, Hofstadter and Sander show that most if not all language-usage depend on the mutual understanding of analogies. Those analogies in itself are fluid, so that concept-building is an organic process which is in itself influenced by analogy.
Though interesting in itself, the book could have been at least half its size shorter, had not the authors decided to come up with example after example of the point they are trying to make at a specific place. On nearly every page we see examples of situations that are, in the end, not all the difficult to understand or recognise. And those examples are in themselves more often than not described with too much (unnecessary) detail.
In fact, the book they should have come up with would be not that much different from Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By
(1980). Given the fact that on page 63 they actually refer to this work, it is obvious that they know about it. It is at least strange that Hofstadter and Sander do not give more credit where credit is due.