Gödel, Escher, Bach

I just finished reading Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. Hofstadter. I’ll wait for you to at least read the wikipedia description of the book.

Done? Ok… The main surprise for me was how many seemingly unrelated topics the book touches. Logic (Gödel), graphic art (Escher), music (Bach) to start with. But also mathematics, molecular biology, genetics, philosophy, zen buddhism, formal systems, artificial intelligence, programming, recursion and self-reference, various paradoxes, and much much more.

It is easily the best book I’ve ever read, although I can’t claim to have understood everything. If you want to borrow my copy, I’d be glad to help (the book is sort of expensive and really hard to get in Czechia).

6 thoughts on “Gödel, Escher, Bach

  1. I couldn’t bring myself to finish reading it. I already knew a lot about the subjects it touches from school and other reading. And the book is long and story flow so sloooow. It is also quite dated and it shows, especially in the parts about genetics. Other than that it *is* a nice book.

  2. I also didn’t finish the book because it was quite slow-moving and somehow seemed to repeat its theme quite often. But it’s been a while, maybe I should give it another chance.

  3. I agree with Keo and Michael. GED is rife with repetition and it moves very slow.

    Moreover, it is a bit an exaggeration to say it “deals with music”. Hofstadter only talks about musical curiosities, like Bach’s “never-ending canon”. This is just musical trivia, and not about music proper.

    The intended-to-be-witty dialogues in between the chapters can be tedious as well, as they usually just express what has been said in a more formal manner in the preceding chapter.

  4. I have kind of read this book when I was about fourteen or fifteen. I really loved all the ideas I could understand but mostly I was completely lost.

    I decided at this time that I must learn enough English and math to be able to get it all one day… and, thanks for reminding me… Some ten years passed and it looks that I have definitely sticked to my original plan since then. I have learned to stop drowning in math more or less successfully, but now I realized that I nearly forgot one of the first things that made me doing it :-)

    I believe that I should be finally ready for the next try :-)

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