But yes, I believe we are better at telling such stories these days.
Easy to take for granted how transparent things become when we have the words, the vocabulary for telling the story.
And rather than a Thomas Kuhn paradigm shift, a sudden inflection point, we have a picture which slowly comes into focus, fifty years at a time.
Tao te ching is more comparable to works of fiction like lord of the rings or the Bible. I wouldn’t compare it to GEB which builds its foundations starting from axiomatic logic. One is concrete, the other is mythical. Do note that the Tao te Ching was written way back during a time when people were unclear about the reality of things and probability and the scientific method were not known. If anything Tao te Ching is a “fun” fictional work while GEB is genuinely trying to express something about the nature of consciousness.
Don’t be fooled by Chinese mysticism. It’s a bullshit industry where they sell false religions, bullshit herbal medicines, martial arts and bullshit philosophies in a genuine attempt to scam you. Some of it is practiced under a genuine belief but most are scams.
I would know I’m Chinese myself.
The title of GEB totally throws people off so they dive into the book not really knowing what direction the book is going to take them. But now you know, the book is ultimately trying to tell you what the author believes consciousness is... and he starts from axiomatic logic. All the clever ideas the author throws at you are foundational structures that are explained to you to eventually help you understand the authors idea of the true nature of consciousness.
I'm sure that it's a literary masterpiece, just like the emperor's new clothes are so beautiful.
I reread it years later. The dialogues didn't age well, but the rest of the book is still great.
Like _Manufacturing Consent_ it's one that I think I'll probably revisit in pretty wide intervals because of the commitment involved, but I think it's worth it.
At the time, I'd say that the vast majority of my computer-ish friends had read both GED and Lord of the Rings. I find it interesting that so many people here are saying they couldn't get through it.
A tremendously useful book that has the capability to blow open young minds that encounter it for the first time, and a book that can be mined for deeper insights many times around even after you decide you agree or disagree with his fundamental premises about cognition and consciousness, etc.
Hofstadter's wordplay may at times seem heavy handed or over the top but he is also doing something in his writing that allows you to experience something about consciousness while you read it that is pretty slippery. Reading his writing very seriously always has glimmers of experiential knowledge gained through psychedelics, meditation, etc that seem to go beyond the intellectual arguments he is making into the realm of the metaphysical.
Le Ton beau de Marot is quite beautiful as well, and is in large part why I've owned the domain name lostinthetranslation since the early 2000s and why I think translation in general is one of the most fundamentally difficult, beautiful, and useful things a human can do :)
As a musician, I found a lot of interesting things in GEB, even if it did not advance my music career.
I found "I am a strange loop" to be fantastic. It is about Godel.