Summary of I Am a Strange Loop

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I Am a Strange Loop book summary


9 Overall

7 Applicability

10 Innovation

9 Style


When he was 27, Douglas Hofstadter wrote Gödel, Escher, Bach, a bestselling book loved by precocious teenagers and computer hackers. Its mixture of logic, music and visual art blended the richness of the humanities and the rigor of the sciences in an altogether unforgettable confection that won a Pulitzer Prize. But GEB, as it is affectionately known, was widely misunderstood. Now, at age 62, Hofstadter tries to get his message across more forcefully. Using invented dialogues, fanciful metaphors, mathematical analogies and light-hearted stories, he limns again and again his central point: The self is an illusion or, as he says, "a hallucination hallucinated by a hallucination." While this may seem a depressing or, at least, odd conclusion (If the self is unreal, then who is reading this?), it's not. In fact, Hofstadter’s conclusion has some surprisingly moving consequences about how human beings should regard themselves, other people and animals. This book is a punning, playful meditation on the logical, rather than neuro-biological, structure of the self. getAbstract highly recommends this gorgeous, rich, magical work to anyone who wants to see eye to eye with his or her "I."

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the self resembles a logical structure called a “strange loop”;
  • Why the self is a kind of illusion;
  • How human selves are (in a sense) unconfined by the body and intertwined with others.

About the Author

Douglas Hofstadter is College of Arts and Sciences Professor of Cognitive Science at Indiana University. He is also the author of Gödel, Escher, Bach.



The Loopiness of Loops
"No, no, no!" said the salesman to a teenaged Douglas Hofstadter. "Don't do that – you'll break the camera!" It was the 1970s. Hofstadter was shopping with his family for a video camera. After pointing the camera at his parents and himself, he...

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