Consciousness Thought

Surfaces and essences : analogy as the fuel and fire of by Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander

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By Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander

Analogy is the middle of all thinking.

This is the easy yet unorthodox premise that Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Douglas Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander safeguard of their new paintings. Hofstadter has been grappling with the mysteries of human notion for over thirty years. Now, along with his trademark wit and distinctive expertise for making complicated principles shiny, he has partnered with Sander to place forth a hugely novel standpoint on cognition.

We are consistently confronted with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined events. Our brain’s task is to attempt to make experience of this unpredictable, swarming chaos of stimuli. How does it achieve this? The ceaseless hail of enter triggers analogies galore, aiding us to pinpoint the essence of what's happening. frequently this implies the spontaneous evocation of phrases, occasionally idioms, occasionally the triggering of anonymous, long-buried memories.

Why did two-year-old Camille proudly exclaim, “I undressed the banana!”? Why do those that pay attention a narrative frequently blurt out, “Exactly a similar factor occurred to me!” while it was once a very assorted occasion? How can we realize an competitive driving force from a split-second look in our rearview replicate? What in a friend’s comment triggers the offhand answer, “That’s simply bitter grapes”? What did Albert Einstein see that made him suspect that gentle involves debris whilst a century of study had pushed the ultimate nail within the coffin of that long-dead idea?

The solution to these kinds of questions, after all, is analogy-making—the meat and potatoes, the guts and soul, the gas and hearth, the gist and the crux, the lifeblood and the wellsprings of inspiration. Analogy-making, faraway from occurring at infrequent durations, happens in any respect moments, defining pondering from most sensible to toe, from the tiniest and so much fleeting ideas to the main artistic medical insights.

Like Gödel, Escher, Bach earlier than it, Surfaces and Essences will profoundly increase our knowing of our personal minds. via plunging the reader into a rare number of colourful events regarding language, suggestion, and reminiscence, via revealing little by little the continuously churning cognitive mechanisms ordinarily thoroughly hidden from view, and by way of gaining knowledge of in them one relevant, invariant core—the incessant, subconscious quest for powerful analogical hyperlinks to prior experiences—this e-book places forth a thorough and deeply fantastic new imaginative and prescient of the act of thinking.

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Additional resources for Surfaces and essences : analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking

Example text

Whether this new element is right or wrong is not the point, nor does it matter whether it follows logically from prior elements. For us, “inference” will simply mean the fact that some new element has been activated in our mind. Thus if one sees a child crying, one infers that the child is distressed. If one sees someone shouting, one infers that the person is probably angry. If one sees that the table is set, then one infers that a meal may well soon be served. If one sees a door that is closed, one infers that it can be opened.

The phenomenon of gravity is so familiar and obvious to us, striking us as so normal and so inevitable, that no one, aside from a tiny minority of physicists obsessed with explaining what others take for granted, even sees that there is anything to ask about. For most non-physicists, it’s hard to see why gravity needs an explanation — and the same holds for the triggering of memories by analogy. And yet, how many scientific discoveries can hold a candle to general relativity, Albert Einstein’s wildly unexpected revelation of what gravity actually is?

Words and concepts are different things. Although the distinction between them is crucial and often very clear, there will unavoidably be cases in our text where it will be ambiguous and blurry, and in such cases, we’ll make a choice between italics and quotation marks that might seem a bit arbitrary.

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