Douglas Hofstadter quotes

  • It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order - and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Science #Order #Eerie

  • It is perhaps wrong to say that the enemy of enlightenment is logic; rather, it is dualistic, verbal thinking. In fact, it is even more basic than that: it is perception.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Thinking #Perception #Enemy

  • If a mosquito has a soul, it is mostly evil. So I don't have too many qualms about putting a mosquito out of its misery. I'm a little more respectful of ants.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Evil #Soul #Mosquitoes

  • There has to be a common sense cutoff for craziness, and when that threshold is exceeded, then the criteria for publication should get far, far more stringent.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Common Sense #Craziness #Threshold

  • Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Law #Research #Favourite

  • In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Self #Miracle #Mirages

  • Enormous numbers of people are taken in, or at least beguiled and fascinated, by what seems to me to be unbelievable hocum, and relatively few are concerned with or thrilled by the astounding-yet true-facts of science, as put forth in the pages of, say, Scientific American.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Truth #Taken #Numbers

  • In fact, a sense of essence is, in essence, the essence of sense, in effect.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Essence #Facts

  • Below Every Tangled Hierarchy Lies An Inviolate Level
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Lying #Tangled #Levels

  • It as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can't possibly figure out what's good or bad. It's an intimate mixture of rubbish and good ideas, and it's very hard to disentangle the two, because these are smart people; they're not stupid.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Dog #Smart #Stupid

  • The Strange Loop phenomenon occurs whenever, by moving upwards (or downwards) through levels of some hierarchial system, we unexpectedly find ourselves right back where we started.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Moving #Levels #Strange

  • No reference is truly direct—every reference depends on SOME kind of coding scheme. It's just a question of how implicit it is.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Kind #Schemes #Direct

  • The entire effort of artificial intelligence is essentially a fight against computers’ rigidity.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Fighting #Effort #Computer

  • We create an image of who we are inside our self. The image then becomes very deeply entrenched, and it becomes the thing that we attribute responsibility to - we say "I", "I" did this because "I" wanted to, because "I" am a good person or because "I" am a bad person. The loop is the fact that we represent our selves, our desires, hopes, dreads and dreams: it is the way in which we conceive of ourselves, rather than the way we conceive of Mount Everest or of a tree. And I say it exists entirely in the loop: the self is an hallucination hallucinated by an hallucination.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Dream #Responsibility #Self

  • Some of us, perhaps all of us, believe that it is legitimate to kill enemy soldiers in a war, as if war were a special circumstance that shrinks the sizes of enemy souls.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #War #Believe #Soul

  • The strange flavour of AI work is that people try to put together long sets of rules in strict formalisms which tell inflexible machines how to be flexible.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Long #People #Trying

  • . . . all meaning comes from analogies.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Analogies

  • Irrationality is the square root of all evil
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Squares #Roots #Evil

  • The key question is, no matter how much you absorb of another person, can you have absorbed so much of them that when that primary brain perishes, you can feel that that person did not totally perish from the earth... because they live on in a 'second neural home'?... In the wake of a human being's death, what survives is a set of afterglows, some brighter and some dimmer, in the collective brains of those who were dearest to them... Though the primary brain has been eclipsed, there is, in those who remain... a collective corona that still glows.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Home #Keys #Brain

  • One of the most important and fascinating of all computer languages is Lisp (standing for "List Processing"), which was invented by John McCarthy around the time Algol was invented.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Important #Lists #Language

  • Meaning lies as much in the mind of the reader as in the Haiku.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Lying #Mind #Reader

  • Sometimes it seems as though each new step towards AI, rather than producing something which everyone agrees is real intelligence, merely reveals what real intelligence is not.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Real #Steps #Sometimes

  • I would like to understand things better, but I don’t want to understand them perfectly.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Want

  • How gullible are you? Is your gullibility located in some "gullibility center" in your brain? Could a neurosurgeon reach in and perform some delicate operation to lower your gullibility, otherwise leaving you alone? If you believe this, you are pretty gullible, and should perhaps consider such an operation.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Believe #Leaving #Brain

  • The paraphrase of Gödel's Theorem says that for any record player, there are records which it cannot play because they will cause its indirect self-destruction.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Player #Self #Records

  • This idea that there is generality in the specific is of far-reaching importance.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Ideas #Reaching #Importance

  • What is an "I", and why are such things found (at least so far) only in association with, as poet Russell Edson once wonderfully phrased it, "teetering bulbs of dread and dream" -- that is, only in association with certain kinds of gooey lumps encased in hard protective shells mounted atop mobile pedestals that roam the world on pairs of slightly fuzzy, jointed stilts?
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Dream #Pedestal #Shells

  • We don't want to focus on the trees (or their leaves) at the expense of the forest.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Focus #Tree #Want

  • The proverbial German phenomenon of the verb-at-the-end about which droll tales of absentminded professors who would begin a sentence, ramble on for an entire lecture, and then finish up by rattling off a string of verbs by which their audience, for whom the stack had long since lost its coherence, would be totally nonplussed, are told, is an excellent example of linguistic recursion.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Communication #Long #Coherence

  • Reductionism is merciless.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Inspirational #Reductionism

  • Perhaps the problem is the seeming need that people have of making black-and-white cutoffs when it comes to certain mysterious phenomena, such as life and consciousness. People seem to want there to be an absolute threshold between the living and the nonliving, and between the thinking and the "merely mechanical," ... But the onward march of science seems to force us ever more clearly into accepting intermediate levels of such properties.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Acceptance #Black And White #Thinking

  • I would proclaim that the vast majority of what [say, Scientific American] is true-yet my ability to defend such a claim is weaker than I would like. And most likely the readers, authors, and editors of that magazine would be equally hard pressed to come up with cogent, non-technical arguments convincing a skeptic of this point, especially if pitted against a clever lawyer arguing the contrary. How come Truth is such a slippery beast?
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Clever #Truth #Editors

  • The nice thing about having a brain is that one can learn, that ignorance can be supplanted by knowledge, and that small bits of knowledge can gradually pile up into substantial heaps.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Nice #Ignorance #Brain

  • Perhaps the most concise summary of enlightenment would be: transcending dualism . ... Dualism is the conceptual division of the world into categories ... human perception is by nature a dualistic phenomenon which makes the quest for enlightenment an uphill struggle, to say the least.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Struggle #Perception #Enlightenment

  • Relying on words to lead you to the truth is like relying on an incomplete formal system to lead you to the truth. A formal system will give you some truths, but as we shall soon see, a formal system, no matter how powerful cannot lead to all truths.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Powerful #Giving #Matter

  • No matter what verbal space you try to enclose Zen in, it resists, and spills over ... the Zen attitude is that words and truth are incompatible, or at least that no words can capture truth.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Attitude #Space #Trying

  • We all have heard it claimed that 13 is an 'unlucky number.' Indeed, there are many hotels in America that for this very reason claim not to have a 13th floor, in the sense that there is no button bearing the label '13' in their elevators (I recently stayed in one in New York, in fact).
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #New York #Numbers #America

  • Many people believe that our lives end not when we die but when the very last person who knew us dies. Memory is part of it, yes, but I think it's much more than memory.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Memories #Believe #Thinking

  • For 13 to be unlucky would require there to be some kind of cosmic intelligence that counts things that humans count and that also makes certain things happen on certain dates or in certain places according to whether the number 13 'is involved' or not (whatever 'is involved' might mean).
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Mean #Numbers #Might

  • I don't feel I have the right to snuff the lives of chicken and fish.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Snuff #Chickens #Fishes

  • You make decisions, take actions, affect the world, receive feedback from the world, incorporate it into yourself, then the updated 'you' makes more decisions, and so forth, 'round and 'round.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Decision #World #Action

  • You can imagine a soul as being a detailed, elaborate pattern that exists very clearly in one brain. When a person dies, the original is no longer around. But there are other versions of it in other people's brains. It's a less detailed copy, it's coarse-grained.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #People #Soul #Brain

  • I am the thought you are now thinking.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Science #Thinking

  • This sentence contradicts itself - no actually it doesn't.
    -- Douglas Hofstadter

    #Sentences