By Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander
This is the straightforward yet unorthodox premise that Pulitzer Prizewinning writer Douglas Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander guard of their new paintings. Hofstadter has been grappling with the mysteries of human proposal for over thirty years. Now, together with his trademark wit and detailed expertise for making advanced principles bright, he has partnered with Sander to place forth a hugely novel point of view on cognition.
We are continually confronted with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined events. Our brain’s activity is to attempt to make feel of this unpredictable, swarming chaos of stimuli. How does it achieve this? The ceaseless hail of enter triggers analogies galore, supporting us to pinpoint the essence of what's occurring. frequently this suggests 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 usually blurt out, Exactly a similar factor occurred to me!” whilst it used to be a very assorted occasion? How can we realize an competitive driving force from a split-second look in our rearview reflect? 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 comprises debris while a century of analysis had pushed the ultimate nail within the coffin of that long-dead idea?
The solution to these kinds of questions, in fact, is analogy-makingthe meat and potatoes, the guts and soul, the gasoline and fireplace, the gist and the crux, the lifeblood and the wellsprings of suggestion. Analogy-making, faraway from occurring at infrequent durations, happens in any respect moments, defining considering from most sensible to toe, from the tiniest and so much fleeting strategies to the main artistic medical insights.
Like Gödel, Escher, Bach prior to it, Surfaces and Essences will profoundly increase our figuring out of our personal minds. via plunging the reader into a rare number of colourful occasions related to language, proposal, and reminiscence, by way of revealing little by little the always churning cognitive mechanisms typically thoroughly hidden from view, and by means of learning in them one important, invariant corethe incessant, subconscious quest for robust analogical hyperlinks to prior experiencesthis booklet places forth an intensive and deeply unbelievable 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
And of course all situations are in fact new, from the largest and most abstract ones down to the tiniest and most concrete ones. There isn’t a single thought that isn’t deeply and multiply anchored in the past. To use the elevator in an apartment building that one has never been in before, does one not tacitly depend on the analogy with countless elevators that one has used before? And when one examines this analogy, one sees that, despite its seeming blandness, it depends on numerous others. For example, once you’ve entered the elevator, you have to choose a small button you’ve never seen before, and you have to press it with a certain finger and a certain force, and you do that without thinking about it whatsoever (or more accurately, without noticing that you are thinking about it).
The English philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are often quoted in this regard. Hobbes, in Leviathan, his best-known work, declares his love for clear words and his scorn for metaphors: 22 Prologue [T]he light of human minds, is perspicuous words, but by exact definitions first snuffed and purged from ambiguity; … [M]etaphors, and senseless and ambiguous words, are like ignes fatui; and reasoning upon them is wandering amongst innumerable absurdities. Hobbes leaves no doubt as to his views.
In the airport, we are surrounded by strangers whom we casually observe. Some seem interesting to us, others less so. We see ads everywhere. We think vaguely about the cities whose names come blaring out through loudspeakers, yet at the same time we are absorbed in our private thoughts. We wonder if there’s time enough to go get a frozen yogurt, we worry about the health problems of an old friend, we are troubled by the headline we read in someone’s newspaper about a terrorist attack in the Middle East, we smile to ourselves at a clever piece of wordplay in an ad on a television screen, we are puzzled as to how the little birds flying around and scavenging food survive in such a weird environment… In short, far from being faced with one situation, we are faced with a seething multitude of ill-defined situations, none of which comes with a sharp frame delineating it, either spatially or temporally.