Strange Loops @ BYOB Party in May 2018 (Part 5)

Image result for i am a strange loop amazonWaseem got a book called I Am a Strange Loop: 0. It is Douglas Hofstadter’s first book, a cognitive scientist’s mathematical look at consciousness. The idea is that the idea of the self is, in fact, the result of an abstract feedback loop within us. The book is about abstract calculable stuff and so it would be far better to quote the reader’s views.

“This book gives you an understanding of consciousness. You are a self-referential loop. Everything you think you are is the result of what is happening around you, so you are dependent on external circumstance.  You can’t evolve on your own. This is the basis of evolution- from the human eye to everything else. The self is the result of various interactions. It is the highest form of abstraction there is and a manifestation of downward causation- there is so much going on to prop up the ‘I’. You exist because a bunch of cells prop you up and what you call ‘you’ is built over it and over it and over it ad infinitum in a paradoxical loop, so you are constantly imbibing what you see around you and you are a reflection of what you have learnt. Over a period of time, all these instances create symbols like fear, for example. The role of external stimulus is undeniable and the image becomes highly complex.  The more you interact with others, the more loops are created.”

The book is confusing but by using analogies that relate to biology and mathematics, the author succeeds in making you think very deeply about abstractions. The one takeaway that Waseem had from this book was the necessity to invest in other people as the image of ourselves is a reflection of everything we take from others.

It’s the kind of book that deserves an entire blog post to itself. More books in Part 6.

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