Surfaces and Essences
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Surfaces and Essences

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Description

In a major new work from the author of `Godel, Escher, Bach and I Am a Strange Loop`, two leading scholars argue that analogy is the basis for all human thoughts. From this singular premise, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Doug Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander construct a broad argument that explains how analogies help us find order out of the chaos of the world. From the simplest forms (a single word, category, or phrase) to infinitely complex constructions (an idiom, or proverb, or algorithm) analogies are the tools our brains use to interpret and master daily life. We are faced with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined situations, none of which comes with a sharp frame delineating it, either spatially or temporally. Our brain is constantly grappling with this unpredictable chaos, always trying to make sense of what surrounds it and swarms into it. How do we make sense of this? The authors argue that these situations provoke an automatic triggering, or unconscious evocation, of certain familiar categories, which, once retrieved from dormancy, help us to organise the enormous potential of our brain. To a large extent, this means the spontaneous coming-to-mind of all sorts of words. And from the simplest of words to the most complex of idiomatic constructions, the retrieval and usage of analogies are the common thread in all of our thoughts. But where do these words come from, and how do they bubble up? What is going on when one merely thinks silently to oneself, 'a mother and her daughter'? These are the question Hofstadter and Sander grapple with. With his trademark wit and singular talent for making complex ideas both accessible and yet still provocatively challenging, Hofstadter has partnered with Sander to create a major new contribution to the study of how the mind works.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 512 pages
  • 188 x 235 x 48.26mm | 1,020.58g
  • The Perseus Books Group
  • BASIC BOOKS
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 10 b&w illustrations
  • 0465018475
  • 9780465018475
  • 77,603

Review quote

Gerald Holton, Professor of Physics and History of Science, Emeritus, Harvard University "Hofstadter and Sander's book starts with two audacious goals: to show that none of us can think a minute without using a variety of analogies, and that becoming aware of this fact can help us think more clearly. Then, patiently and with humor, the authors prove their claims across the whole spectrum, from everyday conversation to scientific thought processes, even that of Einstein." Nancy J. Nersessian, Professor of Cognitive Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, and author of Creating Scientific Concepts "Placing analogy at the core of cognition Hofstadter and Sander provide a persuasive answer to the question 'what is thought?' Analogy is the mechanism underlying the myriad instances of concept formation and categorization we perform throughout any day, whether unconscious or explicit, without which there would be no thought. They mount a compelling case through analysis of a wealth of insightful--imaginative and real--exemplars, from everyday thinking to the highest achievements of the human mind, which are sure to persuade a broad range of readers."show more

About Douglas R. Hofstadter

Douglas Hofstadter is College Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Emmanuel Sander is a professor of Psychology at the University of Paris.show more
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