Let me start by admitting that this is the first of Doug Hofstadter’s books I’ve actually finished. The first of his works I attempted to read was Gödel, Escher, Bach. It was fascinating, but about three-quarters through he went into a private calculus and drove me out through the window. His Mathemagical Themas was more approachable, but a very long book, and I was not in a mental place to “get” much of what he was saying.
For some reason, however, “I Am A Strange Loop” while anything but a quick read, spoke to me.
Hofstadter isn’t your every day, run of the mill mad scientist. His background in physics, mathematics, linguistics and philosophy runs deep, but he is also able to draw upon the mundane, and current culture to pepper his writing with humor and social insight.
I Am A Strange Loop is his attempt to get at the source of mind.
He points out that our brains, a mass of particles which seem to move chaotically produce a higher level of action in neurons which produce a higher still level that deals with abstractions, or symbols. In other words, he explores the journey from particle to mind.
He goes so far as to suggest the co-location of our minds in the brains of others—and makes a good case for it, allowing the reader to make assumptions about the result.
On a personal note, this book somehow managed to synchronize with other studies, thoughts and ideas. It was as though I needed to read Strange Loop at just this time in my life.
If you are interested in a deep, insightful, philosophical/linguistic/psychological read, I cannot recommend this highly enough, but know this, it will take a serious commitment to finish this book.