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Mind-Expanding. It's like a good workout for your brain that keeps on giving...
on 3 May 2017
GEB is pretty much the must-read book for anyone interested in computers and/or general philosophy of mind. Hofstadter has had a long, interesting career in the field of interesting mathematics and links between theory and real life. In his magnum opus, GEB, he explores what it is to be a self-thinking machine, and how, by looking at it from some other perspectives, we can learn a lot about how we think and do.
The beginning of the book starts out by explaining some simple concepts, and then chains them together in ever-growing complexity. By the sections on natural-language processing, the symbolic logic can be a little overwhelming if you've not done symbol manipulation before.. Once powered-through (and assuming that you were able to either follow the logic, or trust in Hofstadter's reasoning chain), the book moves into more varied and easier to understand areas which demonstrate the Godel Theorem without going into the maths.
I absolutely loved this book. It's a masterpiece of this generation. It takes some serious bending of the little grey cells to follow all of the logic, but the wonderful interplay of the music, art and maths is truly mind-expanding. Once you see what Hofstadter's pointing out, you simply can't un-see it.
Pretty soon, you'll be making Quine-based quips, or looking for self-disproving theorems (like "This sentence is false"). Ahh, the beauty of a well-laid trap paradox!
so, if you're scientific, technical or just plain interested in maths, then get this. It's a very weighty tome, and a recently added preface and some new sections make it even beefier. But it's so worth it. If I could draw parallels, I'd say it's as mind-expanding as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance... that sort of thing.