Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter

Great Minds Think Alike
It's rare enough to read a good book. Still rarer is a great book that expands not just human understanding but also human thought. Perhaps not as groundbreaking a work of science as Darwin's Origin of Species, Godel, Escher, Bach comes close to it in reforming the way we think about the world. If you have read it before, you know its strength (and after 20 years, it is well worth revisiting). If you have not read the book, here is a simple summary of what you've missed.

By looking at the brilliant minds of mathematician Kurt Godel, graphic artist M. C. Escher, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, computer-science and cognitive-science professor Douglas Hofstadter ties together the aesthetic gift of pattern recognition and manipulation with theories on artificial intelligence, human intelligence, and the essence of self-awareness. Does that do the book justice? Not at all; Godel, Escher, Bach cannot be explained without delving deeply into the structure of the book itself and the analysis of self-representation Hofstadter weaves through his appreciation of the art of Bach, the designs of Escher, and the theories of Godel.

Godel, Escher, Bach is not a simple read. The ideas are complex and the logic subtle. But it is a completely satisfying book, and reading it is one of those rare experiences when you leave feeling smarter than when you started.

Greg Sewell

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