I'm so over simplifying it, and there's a lot more here than this. But I still found it extremely interesting to read this and contemplate just how intricately tied to our inner-narratives we are. Without that never-ending dialog in our heads, we're not really sentient, and without a language, we can't have that dialog...
Again, way more here, but this was the big thing I took away. I am a strange loop, after all.
Stealing from Feynman here (edit, or more accurately his childhood friend Bennie), but most conscious thought is not verbal:
"Thinking is nothing but talking to yourself," said Feynman. "Oh yeah?" said Bennie. "Do you know the crazy shape of a crankshaft in a car? How did you describe it when you were talking to yourself?" http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1079.htm
I don't think that complex language is required for conscious thought, we can reason without language. Complex language is however required for storytelling and storytelling is required to transmit technologies without physically demonstrating them, hence it is required for technological development to spread beyond the limits of "monkey see, monkey do".
However, I think lotsofmangos in the Feynman quote was referring to the process of visualizing a crankshaft, which is most definitely conscious thought. Visualization is often not language in the mind.
Really? I'd have said that it boiled consciousness down to the idea of self-reference (what he calls "strange loops").
EDIT: Perhaps you mean Le Ton Beau de Marot? That one definitely deals with the relationship between language and consciousness.
"The Mind's I", a collaboration with Daniel Dennett, is a more light read than Gödel Escher Bach which also talks about consciousness, emergence and cognition.
"Metamagical Themas" is a collection of fascinating articles he wrote for Scientific American after Martin Gardner stopped publishing his "Mathematical Games" (do you see what he did here?)
I can perceive the influence his ideas have in the way I raise my child, relate to people and act in the world. I would go as far as to say that my spirituality was sparked by his texts, specially those related to Zen and consciousness.
Sure, YMMV -- this is entirely subjective (as everything in life, really).
Lots of people are saying this here. May I ask how it changed your life?
It made me think about various philosophical topics such as holism vs reductionism and syntax vs semantics, the meaning of "meaning", intelligence, cognition...
...and then absolutely blew them all with the Zen approach to life.
This book set me down a line of really thinking and investigating and filling in the gaps that god was hiding in. Now I'm nonreligious.
This book might not change the median person's life, but it changed mine
That as we evolve our understanding and discover the next great secret that the universe holds for us, we will be continually and profoundly affected by how beautiful and blessed we are to simply have the opportunity to exist!
Reading GEB felt like reading the Cliff Notes to an entire college education especially tailored for the kind of person I didn't yet realize I already was.
Thomas Pynchon's "V." had the same effect.
For me, at 17 when I read it, math was just a bunch of symbols and exercises. It introduced me to logic and reasoning, made me think about the world differently.
It's like the real red pill in the matrix that's not just something you swallow. You think about it, and you start wondering what else you think you knew about math and the world can be challenged.
It made me a braver man. In that sense, it did change my life.
I think if your mind isn't changed after reading about these figures, then you haven't really gotten it.
Hofstadter isn't necessarily the main attraction here. He created a framework (ie the structure of the book) where these subjects can be reasoned about.
Admittedly, I read it in formative years, but until I read GEB, I didn't really grok what "genius" meant. Understanding strange loops in context of great thinkers who expressed it, and seeing strange loops as the nature of consciousness, and wondering how it could be expressed in software... blew my mind, in several senses of the phrase.
I've also found it helpful to consult the MIT OCW video lectures on this book: http://ocw.mit.edu/high-school/humanities-and-social-science...
where I answered:
It is a timeless classic which will draw you in if you give it
the chance it deserves. If you find parts to be a bit heavy,
you can speed up or slow down per your personal preference. I
chose to slow down and read all the more carefully. I feel I
was truly rewarded for the effort but believe that hurrying
through such parts would be a viable alternative -- certainly
better than abandoning the book as often seems to happen.
It's my favorite book. I recommend you do try it.
How did it change your view of human consciousness. How do you define consciousness now after reading this
book? Just a couple of lines summary of about consciousness in this book would be good a motivation for me.
As an undergraduate computer engineering student who aspired to understand intelligence and apply AI, I was delighted to find such an approachable, yet profound, treatment of fundamental ideas that mattered not only to my field but to music and art as well.
Decades later, it remains my favorite book.
Like most popular gibberish of this ilk, the most valuable part of the book is the reference list; most pseudo-philosophers are very careful to make as many references as possible to really excellent works, probably in an attempt for 'success by association.'
The best I can come up with is that you're talking about his idea that self-reference lies at the heart of consciousness, which I think an intelligent reader can see is just a guess of his. Whether or not it's true, we can still see how it's useful to think of ant colonies as organisms, and we still learn about the incompleteness theorem, and we now understand what a fugue is and how it has textual and visual analogues, etc.
Maybe there's a group of people who treat GEB's claims differently than I do that I'm unaware of?
It never gave me the impression he was a blowhard or pretentious, but it was something of a 180 from his other works in that there seemed to be much, much idle speculation on minds and souls and such without out suitable rigor.
Basically it's his personal philosophic musings, and it felt a bit too "Deepak Chopra" to me.
You can find a lot of recordings on YouTube and, in twenty or so years, all of them on http://allofbach.com
If you can read sheet music at least on a basic level, there's a huge repository on IMSLP: http://imslp.org/wiki/List_of_works_by_Johann_Sebastian_Bach
Also, if the piece is particularly significant, it's likely that there'll be a Wikipedia article about with some more detail. There may be some books dedicated solely to the work of Bach, but I don't think they're necessary for this purpose.
Absolute recommend-er for AI people, linguistics. Actually, everybody should read this.
So it's not just you.
tl;dr you should read the book.