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Selected Annotated Bibliography
of Douglas R. Hofstadter


 
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Books

Eternal Golden Braid cover

Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, NY: Basic Books, 1979.
[Also: GEB, 20th Anniversary Edition: With a New Preface by the Author, NY: Basic Books, 1999.]

A multi-faceted examination of “how it is that animate beings come out of inanimate matter,” GEB is also a “metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carrol,” as its sub-subtitle indicates, as well as a treasury of dialogs, puns, acrostics, musical forms, mathematical incompleteness, strange loops, tangled hierarchies, and self-reference.

Hofstadter’s explanation of the cover art:

A “GEB” and an “EGB” trip-let suspended in space, casting their symbolic shadows on three planes that meet at the corner of a room. (“Trip-let” is the name which I have given to blocks shaped in such a way that their shadows in three orthogonal directions are three different letters. The trip-let idea came to me in a flash one evening as I was trying to think how best to symbolize the unity of Gödel, Escher, and Bach by somehow fusing their names in a striking design. The two trip-lets shown on the cover were designed and made by me, using mainly a band saw, with an end mill for the holes; they are redwood, and are just under 4 inches on a side.)

Excerpt

The Mind's I cover

 

The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul.
(Edited by Hofstadter, with Daniel C. Dennett). NY: Basic Books, 1981.

A collection of fiction, speculation, theory, philosophy, and reflections by Jorge Luis Borges, Richard Dawkins, John Searle, Robert Nozick, and the editors, on philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence and cognitive science.

 

 

 

 


Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern cover

Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern. NY: Basic Books, 1985.

A collection of Hofstadter’s monthly columns for Scientific American from 1981-1983, with additional commentary, and previously unpublished dialogs and essays on the mind, the brain, the Rubik’s Cube, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, etc. Begins with a remarkable three-tiered (or tri-chunked, or drill-down) Table of Contents, and doesn’t stop sparkling until well after its marvelous half-page index entry for versus (including “free will vs. free won’t,” “D. Hofstadter vs. D. Hofstadter,” and “truth vs. hokum”).

Excerpts

 


AMBIGRAMMI Cover

 

Ambigrammi: un microcosmo ideale per lo studio della creatività. Florence, Italy: Hopeful Monster, 1987.

An extensive dialogue (between Hofstadter and his elusive alter ego Egbert B. Gebstadter) and presentation of ambigrams, Hofstadter’s multi-level, multi-valent form of calligraphy. Includes extensive discussion of creation vs. discovery, models of thought, analogy, and letter forms.

 

 

 


Le Ton Beau de Marot cover

Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought. (by Hofstadter, jointly with the Fluid Analogies Research Group), NY: Basic Books, 1995.

An “applied” approach to the principal topics of Hofstadter’s previous works: includes reports on real-life computer architectures and algorithms that attempt to model human creativity and analogy-making.

The cover contains examples of Hofstadter’s “gridfonts,” typographical experiments in style, letter forms, and machine creativity (and the object of an artificial intelligence program called “Letter Spirit”).

 


Le Ton Beau de Marot cover

 

Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language. NY: Basic Books, 1997.

An extended rhapsody on poetry translation, formal textual systems, language, constraints and creativity; an anthology of translations of a single gem of a poem, Clément Marot’s “Ma Mignonne”; and a heartbreaking, heartwarming love letter.

It may not be immediately obvious without reading the book, but the title contains both an exquisite multiple pun and multiple musical and personal references: the pronunciation of “ton beau” (“beautiful tone”) is identical to that of “tombeau” (“tomb”), thus the title is also an homage to Maurice Ravel’s piano suite “Le Tombeau de Couperin.” Both book and suite honor fallen loved ones (the latter to Ravel’s friends lost in World War I, the former to Carol Hofstadter). In addition, within the text are other lovely echoes of “ton beau”: for example, as “tome beau” (“beautiful volume”) and in the beautiful introductory dedication to Carol from “ton beau” (“your beau”). Among the many, many treasures of this work, its lovely and meaning-full title stands out.

Excerpts

 


For the Love of Line and Pattern cover

 

For the Love of Line and Pattern: Studies Inspired by Alphabets and Music. Bloomington, IN: School of Fine Arts Gallery, Indiana University, 1998.

An exhibit catalog of Hofstadter’s “non-textual” works (“non-textual” appearing in “scare quotes” because even much of this visual work is text-based, or at least alphabet-inspired). Includes ambigrams, “Whirly Art” (such as may be seen on the cover of Metamagical Themas — and which is, like the dialogues of GEB, often some sort of re-incarnation of a particular musical form),“jazz scribbles,” and “gridfonts,” along with essays and notes about each form.

 

 


Eugene Onegin cover

Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse by Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin; A Novel Versification by Douglas Hofstadter. NY: Basic Books, 1999.

An effervescent, enthusiastic and delightful verse translation of Pushkin’s great novel, recreating the spirit of wordplay and formal constraints in the original. (Hofstadter also presents a single stanza of the original, along with seven comparative translations and a discussion, in his “Analogy as the Core of Cognition” article.)

Excerpts

 

 


I Am a Strange Loop. NY: Basic Books, 2007.

This book restates and updates the (often misunderstood) principal thesis of GEB: that it is precisely “strange loops” (patterns characterized by self-referentiality, self-representation, level-crossing feedback, and other seemingly paradoxical phenomena) that give rise to — and even more, constitute — consciousness and selfhood.

In some ways, I Am a Strange Loop is perhaps what GEB might have turned out to be had its original working title remained: “Gödel’s Theorem and the Human Brain.” This book’s more tightly focused “cognitive science” message is still expressed with Hofstadter’s customary engaging tone and entertaining form; even more than that, it is beautifully colored by his deep engagements with love and loss over the nearly thirty years that have intervened since the writing of GEB.

Excerpts

 


The Discovery of Dawn, by Walter Veltroni; translated by Douglas Hofstadter. NY: Rizzoli Ex Libris, 2008.

 

Hofstadter translated this novel at the request of its author Walter Veltroni, who was mayor of Rome from 2001 to 2008. Hofstadter includes a brief foreword telling the story of their meeting and of his work on the translation.

Originally titledLa Scoperta dell'Alba, the 2006 novel is a magical-realistic historical murder mystery set in the Italy of the present day, and that of 1977.

 

 


That Mad Ache

That Mad Ache, by Françoise Sagan; translated by Douglas Hofstadter.

Bound with:

Translator, Trader: An Essay on the Pleasantly Pervasive Paradoxes of Translation, by Douglas Hofstadter.

NY: Basic Books, 2009.

Translator, Trader: An Essay on the Pleasantly Pervasive Paradoxes of Translation

This double pleasure of a book consists of Hofstadter’s translation of Françoise Sagan’s 1965 novel La Chamade, and, on the flip-side, his extended essay on the art of translation, including both plain-English philosophical discussions and detailed descriptions of many of the concrete choices Hofstadter had to make as he translated this novel.

In opening the doors of both his mind and his “translator’s studio,” Hofstadter continues the longtime and personable conversations he began in Le Ton beau de Marot and his translation of Eugene Onegin. The subtitle of this essay speaks volumes — or at least half a volume! — about Hofstadter’s idea that translation is a complex act of negotiation, compromise, and style; the witty pun of its main title is a parlay against those many who profess the mistaken and counter-productive “translator, traitor” idea.

Excerpts


Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking,
by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander. NY: Basic Books, 2013.

Published simultaneously with:

L'analogie : Coeur de la pensée,
by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander.
Paris: Odile Jacob, 2013.

This book — in both its instantiations — was co-authored with French professor of psychology Emmanuel Sander. (The book “has two originals — one in French and one in English. Each is a translation of the other, or perhaps neither of them is a translation.” p. x)

This is Hofstadter’s first book-length treatment — in much-expanded and richly-illustrated form — of the thesis of his Stanford Presidential Lecture, and the related article republished on this site: “Analogy as the Core of Cognition. ”

(More detailed annotation and excerpts to come!)

 

 


Selected Articles

Note: The Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition (a.k.a. FARG, the Fluid Analogies Research Group) at Indiana University maintains a much more complete bibliography of articles by Hofstadter and members of his research group.


Hofstadter, Douglas R. “Analogies and Metaphors to Explain Gödel’s Theorem.” In Two-Year College Mathematics Journal, Volume 13, No. 2, March 1982.
(Available online, to subscribers, in JSTOR.)

A very early practical essay about analogies as a teaching tool — which certainly seems like a possible precursor to the “analogy as core of cognition” idea.

 

Hofstadter, Douglas R. “The Copycat Project: An Experiment in Nondeterminism and Creative Analogies.” MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Memo No. 755, January 1984.
(Available online from MIT.)

Hofstadter, Douglas R. and Melanie Mitchell. “The Copycat Project: A Model of Mental Fluidity and Analogy-Making.” In Keith Holyoak and John Barnden (eds.), Advances in Connectionist and Neural Computation Theory Volume 2: Analogical Connections, Norwood NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1994, pp. 31-112.

Marshall, J. and Douglas R. Hofstadter. “Beyond Copycat: Incorporating Self-Watching into a Computer Model of High-Level Perception and Analogy-Making.” In M. Gasser (ed.) Online Proceedings of the 1996 Midwest Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science Conference.
(Available online here.)

A few articles, old and new, about AI programming efforts by Hofstadter’s Fluid Analogies Research Group. One of the first was called Copycat — “a stochastic computer model of fluid concepts, high-level perception, and analogy-making.” Metacat and Letter Spirit, are successors. Most of these projects are covered in more detail, and more currently, in Hofstadter and FARG’s Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies volume (see above).

 

Hofstadter, D. R., “Speechstuff and thoughtstuff: Musings on the resonances created by words and phrases via the subliminal perception of their buried parts.” In Sture Allen (ed.), Of Thoughts and Words: The Relation between Language and Mind. Proceedings of the Nobel Symposium 92, London/New Jersey: World Scientific Publ., 1995, pp. 217-267.

A charming and insightful article on language, linguistic “chunking” and semantic “transparency,” treating both Sapir-Whorf and folk hypotheses of comparative linguistics. This piece is especially rich in Hofstadter’s trademark cognitive wordplay, and includes such gems as “splitting the etym” (which he attributes to his colleague David Moser), “greasy spoonerisms,” and even “iced teaspoonerisms” — all of which are much more apt, meaning-filled and slippery than one might think at first glance.

Hofstadter, D. R., “On seeing A’s and seeing As.”
Stanford Humanities Review 4,2 (1995), pp. 109-121. (Available online from Stanford.)

A discussion of several important AI research problems and projects: Bongard problems, the Letter Spirit project and its gridfonts, and others; also, an introduction to the important idea of “analogical seeing.”

Hofstadter, Douglas R. “Mystery, Classicism, Elegance: an Endless Chase after Magic. An essay in honor of Bruno Ernst, Hans de Rijk, and Brother Erich — Escher’s deepest appreciators.” In Doris Schattschneider (ed.), Proceedings of the M. C. Escher Centennial Congress. Springer Verlag, Inc., New York, 1999.

In addition to some interesting GEB history, Hofstadter details here his strong reaction against the overly dismissive notion of Escher as “a non-artist’s non-artist,” and makes a plea to take Escher more seriously as a thinker and artist.

 

Hofstadter, D. R. “Analogy as the Core of Cognition.” In The Analogical Mind: Perspectives from Cognitive Science, Dedre Gentner, Keith J. Holyoak, and Boicho N. Kokinov (eds.). Cambridge MA: The MIT Press/Bradford Book, 2001, pp. 499-538.

This article was chosen to appear in The Best American Science Writing 2000, James Gleick and Jesse Cohen (eds.), Ecco Press, 2000. It is reprinted in full (by permission of MIT Press) as part of this website.

Hofstadter, D. R. “Staring EMI Straight in the Eye — and Doing My Best Not to Flinch.” In David Cope, Virtual Music: Computer Synthesis of Musical Style, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.

EMI is David Cope’s “Experiments in Musical Intelligence,” a computer program that composes music which causes Hofstadter, despite his deepest misgivings, to worry whether music — “the ultimate inner sanctum of the human spirit, the last thing that would tumble in AI’s headlong rush towards thought, insight, and creativity” — may have met its match.

Hofstadter, Douglas R. “Moore’s Law, Artificial Evolution, and the Fate of Humanity.” In L. Booker, S. Forrest, et al. (eds.), Perspectives on Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

An impassioned response to the latest wave of futuristic predictions of “spiritual machines” and the end of humanity as we know it. As in the preceding article on EMI, and in the “Twentieth-anniversary Preface” to GEB, Hofstadter here deals with Deep Blue’s victory over Kasparov — and why he believes that although it has now come to pass, it lends little if any support to the idea that just over the horizon, computers will surpass humanity and will leave us in the dust.

 

Hofstadter, Douglas. “I Am a Strange Loop.” Seed 2:9 (March 2007), pp.68-72.

A brief statement of the essence of Hofstadter’s 2007 book, I Am a Strange Loop — and therefore of the essence of consciousness and inviduality.

 


Selection and Annotations by Glen Worthey
Stanford University Libraries


©2006-2013 Stanford University Libraries


 


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