- Paperback: 777 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (September 12, 1980)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0394745027
- ISBN-13: 978-0394745022
- Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 8 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
That he manages to entertain as well (he writes with a wry sense of humor on what are typically handled as rather dry subjects) and manages to reach the layman is what sets this volume apart as the masterpiece that it is. Although it is accessable to the layman, the book does become progressively more challenging and I strongly recommend completing his suggested exercises before moving on, otherwise you will likely find yourself unable to grasp the point he's trying to make several pages later.
The introduction of the book, "Introduction: A Musico-Logical Offering" begins by quickly discussing the three main participants in the book, Gödel, Escher, and Bach. Gödel was a mathematician who founded Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem, which states, as Hofstadter paraphrases, "All consistent axiomatic formulations of number theory include undecidable propositions." This is what Hofstadter calls the pearl. This is one example of one of the recurring themes in GEB, strange loops.
Strange loops occur when you move up or down in a hierarchical manner and eventually end up exactly where you started. The first example of a strange loop comes from Bach's Endlessly rising canon. This is a musical piece that continues to rise in key, modulating through the entire chromatic scale, ending at the same key with which he began. To emphasize the loop Bach wrote in the margin, "As the modulation rises, so may the King's Glory."
The third loop in the introduction comes from an artist, Escher. Escher is famous for his paintings of paradoxes. A good example is his Waterfall; Hofstadter gives many examples of Escher's work, which truly exemplify the strange loop phenomenon.
One feature of GEB, which I was particularly fond of, is the `little stories' in between each chapter of the book.Read more ›
If you're interested in theories of consciousness or Gödel's theorem, this book may appeal to you, especially if you appreciate a playful treatment of these topics and don't mind the author's long-windedness. Now, I was not enthusiastic to begin with, so I don't feel qualified to comment on the flaws in the book's argument. But I will recommend 3 other books on related topics which complement "Gödel, Escher, Bach" nicely, even for more sympathetic readers.
A more accessible, better contextualized, and more enlightening treatment of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem can be found in "Logicomix" by Doxiadis and Papadimitriou.
Descartes' theory of consciousness assumes, like Hofstadter's, that consciousness is an individual (rather than a social) phenomenon. Descartes' approach is axiomatic without taking into account problems of self-reference. (You might say that Hofstadter tries to update Descartes for the post-Gödel era, which forces Hofstadter to place less faith in deductive reasoning.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Book has barely any binding. I need to repair it before I can even read it..Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
When I opened the package there was a lot of a mysterious powdery substance, which I soon discovered was the decaying binding of the book. (Glue, paper, ?) It was a mess. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Denise Fleming
Condition of book was good, not great, slightly worse than described but totally acceptable.Published 4 months ago by Alex
For me, this was the book that proved the cliche: it changed my life. I was working as a musician, studying biochemistry, when I read it and fell in love with AI, and mathematics,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Neil Brennan
I bought this book used knowing full well that it would be beaten up, so I'll just review the book.
It's amazing. Read more
A book about artificial intelligence. One of the most entertaining and thought-provoking I have ever read. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dr. Thomas P. Davis
A brilliant book that helps you to open up your mind as wide as the skyPublished 13 months ago by Adriaen