I am a Strange Loop

Douglas Hofstadter’s I am a Strange Loop, is a somewhat strange and sometimes loopy romp through the nature of consciousness, specifically human consciousness. In many ways the author is desperately trying to stay on the course of scientific objectivity, and many of his arguments seem sound, but we end up with a deeply personal journey that in the end seems as if he has a personal axe to grind with his detractors.

If you stick your hand into a box full of envelopes and squeeze, you will be surprised to perceive something that feels very much like a marble in the center of the box. However, upon examination of the envelopes individually no such marble will be found. This example is the theme that permeates the book, and serves as an analogy of how in our minds we perceive a very real I-ness, we swear something is there but upon closer examination it dissolves into nothingness. How very Buddhist of him. Douglas sees the similarity to this eastern religion too, but for some reason doesn’t like the other nihilistic ideas that come with that territory.

I am readily won over, at least my scientific analytical self is, by Hofstader’s basic arguments, but apparently a lot of people need more convincing, because he spends an inordinate amount of time convincing us. With all of that I feel like the larger question remains unanswered, what separates the animate from inanimate in our universe. I feel like this is the real question, instead of trying to decide the relative amounts of hunekers, souls or consciousness particles in us all.