Douglas Hofstadter


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which is the book that contains the description of "metacat" ?

>>By douggi   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

the german title is "die fargonauten". that's the one with copycat, metacat etc.

>>By mg   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

Ah, ok. I think the english one is "Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies". By Hofstadter and the "Fluid Analogies Research Group" (FARG :-)) at the University of Michigan.

>>By douggi   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

By the way, this seems to be the official website about the book:
There's also a link to a review at the bottom.

>>By douggi   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

whichi is the book that contains the description of "rentacar"?
(do you think we have just made a loop?)

>>By rafo   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

rentacar ??

>>By mg   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

as metacat but a note higher

>>By rafo   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

hmm... I assume you are kidding. yes yes. You are kidding. All is fine...

>>By mg   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

I tried to make a simil with a canon or a fuge I donĀ“t remember which is the one that repeats itself but always a note higher

>>By rafo   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

ok, what's next ? flyakite ?

>>By mg   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

that one's good!... what do you think is the most important learning that the book GEB: EGB gave you?

>>By rafo   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

>that one's good!... what do you think is the most important learning that the book >GEB: EGB gave you?

language is all I have. And language expands through paradoxes

>>By keaton   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

What's first: language or thought?

>>By rafo   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

I think, thought comes first. Spiders probably kind of 'think', but I doubt they talk about it much. Trees think something like 'ahhh let's turn to the south - where the sun is'. But I don't think there's much communication among trees. At least they don't need to talk to turn to the south. So I can imagine thoughts without language, but I can't imagine language without thoughts.

The most important learning? Not sure if I learned something by reading GEB. It was fun to 'think along with Hofstadter'. That's what I liked.

Language expands through paradoxes ? I don't get it.

>>By mg   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

A paradox, more or less, is a statement that appears to be contradictory (like "the sound of silence"). I don't know in what way you mean it expands language, but it is exciting to think of a paradox as a system that contains both thesis and antithesis to support one only truth. It would be something like Godel's theorem but in language.

>>By rafo   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

Dugof is great, but no way to see his works in italian before ages :-(
I do not agree with your statements, in my opinion language and thought grow together in an autofeeding open proceeds, who's nature we'll understand sooner or later, useful to read: "The first 3 minutes" by Steven Weinberg. Can give some ideas
Best things to everybody!

>>By mazzetta   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

how do you think spyder represents himself his thoughts?

>>By mazzetta   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

Well, I asked that myself a couple of times. How it would feel like to be a spider (or a cat or a tree or a stone).
My guess would be, the spider represents his thoughts via feelings or associativity. This might be thoughts without language...

>>By mg   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

mmmm, this theory seems to deal with mechanical reactions inside spyder's mind, I think any though should have a medium to be carried by....something as a language.........thoughts are a bit more complicated than feelings

>>By mazzetta   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 12:56)

So we reached the point where we need a definition of thoughts and thinking...

I for example define thinking as 'processing data'. So when I enter my car and turn the key, my car processes this input and most of the time it does the right thing: start the engine. So there is some kind of thinking going on. Not sure if this is common sense. Personally, I do not think of those stuff traveling between key and engine as encoded in some kind of language. But it's all very fuzzy anyhow. You could probably call the electric signals a kind of language. In this case, language is 'what thoughts are made of' and thinking is 'the use of language' and one cannot be without the other.

>>By mg   (Monday, 27 Jan 2003 23:52)

The other day I asked Miss Spider if she could please tell me how does her process of thinking works. She never answered back so I interpreted her silence as: what is thinking? Then she run away. Apparently, the data she perceived in me ment "DANGER, RUN AWAY OR EITHER STING!" I think animals react to stimuli, just as the engine reacts to the key, or men react to a pretty looking lady. Life could have been very easy. Unfortunately, somebody started asking "why" and took us into all this trouble: thinking. Maybe language is just a way in which we represent thinking and it is efficient and easy enough to let us interpret and transmitt a lot of thinking. Maybe, there is a lot more of thinking taking place but we are not aware of it and we call it, for example, "sixth sense". I have a question: what happens in the case of a deaf mute person?

>>By rafo   (Thursday, 30 Jan 2003 15:16)

Hmmmmm. Other species, both animate and inanimate, not having the complex thoughts and language of humans. Since we are not other species, how can we know what takes place inside them? And since we are just another animate species on this planet, do we not also think and therefore have language based on sensory intake?

>>By redcatdave   (Saturday, 1 Feb 2003 07:05)

to rafo:

> Maybe language is just a way in which we represent thinking

As I said, I guess we would have to define "language" and "thinking" before we can judge this statement. Anybody agrees that "thinking" equals "processing data" ? Any ideas how to define "language" ?

> Maybe, there is a lot more of thinking taking place but we are not aware of it.

If "thinking"="processing data" then: definately.

> what happens in the case of a deaf mute person

Nothing special I guess. A deaf mute person probably thinks the same way anybody else does. When thinking, we might sometimes "hear" the words inside our mind but I do not think this is necessary to think in language. I guess most of the time also non-deaf persons think without "hearing the sound of words in their heads".

>>By mg   (Sunday, 2 Feb 2003 11:27)

to redcatdave:

We are not other species, but we are very similar to them I think. I am not you, but I can very much imagine how it feels when you get bit by a spider :o)
If we assume that animals are like humans without language (well, they probably all have a language but lets assume it for a moment) the following might work to some degree: Stop thinking and look how it feels like. I tried this a couple of times. Just stop thinking and everytime you find yourself thinking in words, just drop that thought immediately. During the first minutes you will have to drop thoughts every few seconds, but after a while you might accomplish to "not think" for a couple of minutes. Not sure if this is how an animal feels like but its interesting. A bit like being in a movie or dream.
To find out how a stone feels like, you would probably have to practice zen for the rest of your life...

>>By mg   (Sunday, 2 Feb 2003 11:27)

To mg. I, too, have tried to stop all thoughts and words in my head, and I've noticed the same thing takes place. In regards to other species, what I've studied and read shows that every species emotes, thinks, and has language. We are sensory beings, in as much as my cat Dave is a sensory being. He emotes, thinks, and expresses himself as a cat would. I can only guess the depth, but I can't judge what goes through his mind because I am not a cat. I have, however, watched him hook his paw through a door handle on a cabinet, then pull on the handle to open door. There is definitely something going through his mind.

And now, language. Could language be defined as expression of emotions and thoughts? Could it be thought of as that which helps us to not only survive but to help others survive?

>>By redcatdave   (Monday, 3 Feb 2003 11:11)

I don`t think thinking is just processing data. In that case, inanimate species such as a computer (it`s a joke) would also think. I believe thinking would be more a META[processing data]. Thought takes us outside from the way in which we perceive and process data and lets us learn and improve the way in which we perceive and process data. And that becomes a braid. That about droping thoughts that come in words sounds interesting. I`ll try that!

>>By rafo   (Monday, 3 Feb 2003 21:03)

Hi Rafo, I found your comments about thinking very interesting. I have a question for you. Is not processing data through thought a way of taking ourselves outside in order perceive, learn, and therefore, survive better? I can't speak for other species because I am not them. But it seems that as we input and process data, it creates emotions and thoughts that help us survive better.

>>By redcatdave   (Tuesday, 4 Feb 2003 09:54)

redcatdave: Could language be defined as expression of emotions and thoughts?

Question: What happens when you are alone and think "Oh, it would be nice to eat ice now". Is this language? In this case you do not express anything to anybody.

>>By mg   (Tuesday, 4 Feb 2003 10:56)


You say thinking is a special case of processing data, where the processing involves monitoring itself and optimizing itself?

So, would this computer program meet your definition of thinking ?

function ProduceOneMillionPrimeNumbers()


.if (Time1<Time2)

>>By mg   (Tuesday, 4 Feb 2003 11:16)

to redcatdave:
I agree with you. I think that as we invest time in thinking, we become more efficient, not only in the sense of perceiving and processing data better, but we also improve our capacity to feel happiness for example. As we manage more information, we become better persons and manage more resources for experiencing more happiness.
to mg:
I do think that the processing involves monitoring itself and optimizing itself. As DH wrote in GEB: EGB, any "thought" that can be programmed in a computer is mechanical. The algorithm maybe controls itself, but within the parameters programmed. I think the advantage that we humans have is we dispose of 5 perception channels, and we use them all at all times (watch the computer monitor and your brain will "know" how it would taste, smell, feel and sound -or not sound). So at all times, the information we receive through these channels is processed and so we have more tools to learn from our experience than other species.

>>By rafo   (Tuesday, 4 Feb 2003 21:11)

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