I have decided to re-read a book that I recommended. It has turned out to be a very timely choice for me, for a lot of reasons. I am hoping very sincerely that there are others on this site with knowledge of the book, or with the time and curiosity to take it up, so that this discussion may bear fruit.
Godel, Escher, Bach; an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter.
(is there a way to type umluauts in Pdnls? please tell me if there is...)
THINQon has been a wakeup call for me. I have been dormantly slogging through simple work for years without much contact with other seekers of truth. This has been bad for my attitude, and I want to heartily apologize for my display of that. I have been too critical of Academics; too dismissive of their true worth. This is my own fault for not excelling at school and I know it. Picking up this work of genius again has put me in my place! Hofstadter has run circles around me; he is fluent in many languages and has succeeded in most of the fields of intellectual inquiry that have ever appealed to me at all. I stand in awe of his accomplishments.
This book is simultaneously light and heavy, easy and hard. To attempt to say what it is about is a Sysyphian task of sorts; the sheer breadth of it, for all it's unity of focus, has defied summary by reviewers since it's inception. Hofstadter himself, when the book was re-released in 1999, undertook to summarize it in his preface. It runs to 23 pages! It is with some amusement that I note that this act of self-reference, this lossy isomorphism of the work in total, is itself a strange loop of just the sort which this book is about.
I have branched this topic off of a thread about the question 'Is God a Mathematician...' This is partly because I recommended the book to everyone there; also partly because I made an assertion about the nature of formal systems in that thread which was apparently misunderstood. But mostly because it approaches that very question more closely than any other way of looking that I have found in all my searchings of the halls of knowing.
In truth, the question of God has no bearing whatever on the content of the book (or the thread I just referenced, incidentally). Hofstadter is an Academic of such calibre that he is above making such divisive claims. This book is a reach at a star no less distant. This book is a brilliant foray into the nature of consciousness by way of self-reference.
So today, I put out the call: Any who have read this book, I invite you to come here and share your experience of it. Any person with an interest in the fields of Mathematics, computer programming, artificial intelligence, or the study of symbol and meaning generally, I hope you will take my recommendation and purchase and consume this lively book! I can safely guarantee that there is no other book of similar content ever written(though if I'm wrong, I hope someone will tell me so!) This book is easy to read, for all it's very difficult content, and I heartily recommend it to young persons as much as everyone else.
I will be reading the book again as I go. I am hoping that the subject matter of our thread follows the chronology of the book to some extent. This is no rule, of course; feel free to write whatever you wish about it and in whatever order.
Isomorphism and translation are themes and subjects of the book. This is why I have included every foreign language translation I could find in the 'books referenced'. Any who have read it will understand!
Against that last intimidating statement, I want to balance this caveat: This book is so easy that anyone can read it. I think everyone should, particularly those in High School. Avoid the trouble I caused myself by finding fascination early.