Talk:Strange loop

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Philosophy (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Philosophy, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of content related to philosophy on Wikipedia. If you would like to support the project, please visit the project page, where you can get more details on how you can help, and where you can join the general discussion about philosophy content on Wikipedia.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
 

Sun Microsystems[edit]

This might be a dumb question, but is the (now defunct) Sun Microsystems logo a strange loop? Just something that occurred to me the other day, that's all... —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.102.54.186 (talk) 11:21, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Looking at the logo, it doesn't appear strange to me, nor does it really appear to be a loop. I suppose if you tried to perceive it three dimensionally, with one quadrant overlapping the other, it could be interpreted that way. Not really a good example though. Clifsportland (talk) 21:09, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
My rationale was that each quadrant is an 'S' in relation to the next one immediately clockwise, which is a 'UN' - but that 'UN' can also be taken as an 'S' to the next one, then the next one, until you get back to the start again. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.102.52.2 (talk) 20:11, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

What an "elaborate" concept... if you've never heard of graphs and networks at all.[edit]

Is this whole article really written in the total ignorance of the concepts of graphs and networks. Those concepts already include trees with interconnects (like the ends of the roots connecting to the stem again), but not only that. They include everything that can be made of nodes and edges (eg. lines between them), which includes far more. (Think of it as a big net, where you can pick every node in it, pull it up, and get a tree with interconnects.)

Someone should slap that guy with a clue stick.

-- 88.77.137.224 (talk) 11:25, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

Strange Loop example?[edit]

Would a quine be an example of a strange loop then? --Anon.

Yes, a quine would be a fine example. Hofstadter mentions 'quinifications' too. --strangeloop 23:10, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Strange Loop origins[edit]

I was under the impression--and I may be wrong, because it has been a very long time indeed since I read those books, which is why I am mentioning it here rather than editing the main page--that the concept of the "strange loop" as it relates to information theory goes back to Alan Turing's early work for MI6 during the Second World War. I do not know whether he coined the term, but this is how the concept was applied.

The idea was that, as it was well known in the summer of 1940 that the UK was on the ropes, Hitler was preparing for an invasion, and it seemed likely that German spy activity was on the increase, the German military intelligence services should be deliberately fed carefully crafted ideas. The ideas were false, and in some cases obviously false, but they were calculated so that if the Germans assumed their falsehood and assumed the obvious opposite was the truth, this would lead them to other false ideas. As an example, one of the first strange loops Alan Turing devised to be fed to German military intelligence was "all of your spies in the UK are double agents, and they are feeding you false information."

Can anyone confirm or deny this story?

Well, Hofstader in GEB doesn't mention anything like that, so...
Incidentally, isn't your German spy ring example true? My understanding was that the German spyrings in Britain were compromised and double-agents. --maru (talk) contribs 18:38, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Steal this Book not a Strange Loop[edit]

I don't think "Steal this Book" is an example of a strange loop. A book's title that undermines the sales of the book is not the same as affecting the book (or the book's title) itself, so there is no paradox, no "damage" to the book itself, and, in fact, no self-reference. Can anyone dissuade me of this opinion? I'm not confident in any of the other cultural examples either. But, can anyone provide a better definition that might make it clear why these things are strange loops? Any Hofstadter fans out there? Doctormatt 17:38, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. Superabo 20:20, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. JTGILLICK 19:29, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

http://www.reenigne.org/review.html

The book talking about itself is a regular old self-reference. If that were included, so would be every example of fiction that "break the fourth wall". —Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.31.201.16 (talk) 16:11, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Oct 25 2006 edits and quines[edit]

Nobody responded to my last request for clarification on the "Steal this book" stuff, so I got a copy of GEB to work from. I replaced the definition with one more in line with that given by Hofstadter. I removed the "Steal this book" stuff since it is my contention that this is not a strange loop. I don't see how quines are strange loops either - can someone clarify that? Thanks. Doctormatt 02:32, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Removed "Sorcerer's Apprentice Mode" link[edit]

Sorcerer's apprentice syndrome is a simple positive feedback loop. It does not exhibit hierarchy crossing characteristic of a strange loop. I have therefore removed it from the "See also" section.Dudecon 20:48, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Correct. However, you need to leave links in your comments (en brackett), so others can more directly reference the material (and more fruitfully engage your point - accept or refute as they will). Alternatively, when editing - esp. when deleting, supply a fuller explanation of the material deleted, along with soemthing more than a simple statement of your reason for deleting it without discussion. JTGILLICK 19:29, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Example[edit]

I'm not sure if the example of The Beatles etc belongs here but I can't think of anywhere where it would go. Any opinions anyone? SmokeyTheCat 11:37, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

I removed it. It's not our responsibility to find a home for every bit of stuff that people might add to an article. This example is not a strange loop: there is no hierarchy in this example, just moving about in a highly connected web. It is not strange at all. Cheers, Doctormatt 20:01, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

OK SmokeyTheCat 08:19, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Catch 22[edit]

Is a Catch 22 a strange loop? It's odd that it's not on this page if it is. It seems to fit the topic.. Correct me If I'm wrong. --Arvash 00:58, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Do you mean the original Catch-22 from the novel? I don't see that a catch-22 involves moving up or down through a hierarchical system. Can you explain how it does? It needs to in order to be considered a strange loop, by Hofstadter's definition. Doctormatt 01:23, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Rock, Paper, Scissors[edit]

I think that the popular game would be a more simple example of an hierarchical loop, perhaps enough to be the first example in the article. What do you think?67.49.238.136 03:47, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

This might be a reasonable example, but I think this qualifies as original research (see WP:OR). This is Hofstadter's term, so I don't think there is any reason to use examples beyond what examples he gives in his works, unless the examples include the use of the term as well; i.e., I think examples should be of the form "person X gives Y as an example of a strange loop" with a verifiable source (see WP:VERIFY). Doctormatt 04:23, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it is a very good example, and I guess the reason is that the concept of beats (as in Rock beats scissors) doesn't strongly enough imply transitivity to make this much more than a directed cycle, and those, in and of themselves, are not all that strange. To illustrate my point, consider the head-to-head record for three Major League Baseball teams for the 1984 season: The Baltimore Orioles had a winning record against the Detroit Tigers, who had a winning record against the Toronto Blue Jays. Although one might find it mildly interesting, few would find it shocking that the Toronto Blue Jays had a winning record against the Baltimore Orioles. Without the transitivity, there's no hierarchy. Another example brackets the idea: Hofstadter himself includes a photo of a lap loop, for which ten or so people stand in a circle, facing in, and then each sits in the lap of the person to their right. What makes this a good example, it seems to me, is that the concept of sits upon, with its suggestions of spatial position and support against gravity, does fairly strongly imply transitivity. PaulTanenbaum 00:46, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Traduttore, traditore[edit]

For me this example teeters at the brink of strange loopiness. The Italian adage means "to translate is to betray." But the original is so musical, so nearly rhyming that a competent translator might go for something more along the lines of "translator, traitor." That rendition retains the rhyme, but at such a cost in meter. Boy, this adage is a bitch to translate well—one almost feels guilty for attempting it. But wait, that's exactly what the adage itself asserts!

What do people think: is there enough level crossing here to make this example a strange loop? And wait, I don't recall, did I first come across this example in Hofstadter's writings to begin with? PaulTanenbaum 01:58, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't see how this is a strange loop at all. Could you elaborate? what "level crossings" are you referring to? Doctormatt 04:58, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Sure, I'll try... at the lower level the adage is a passive, almost inert object. It is merely a sentence, which, because it is cast in some natural language, is subject to being translated. Meanwhile, at the higher level it is busy asserting something about the abstract notion of translating things. At this higher level it is ascribing to the process of translation a certain attribute, an inherent feature that we might approximate by imperfectibility. Now, as we non-Italophones try to appreciate the adage's ascription of imperfectibility, we can only access it by means of translating the adage. So we do take up the inert lower-level adage and try to translate it, but our attempt is doomed to failure by the higher-level meaning of the very adage we are attempting to translate. How's that? PaulTanenbaum 06:01, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

I think this is an excellent example of a strange loop and you have demonstrated it well. Unfortunately it also qualifies as WP:OR. All those commenting on this discussion page need to remember that any example of a strange loop you can give needs a reliable source.134.173.91.32 (talk) 22:34, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Strange loop examples deleted - Appropriately?[edit]

[Formatting modified (with minor single-word edits) for clarity and continuity by JTGILLICK 19:24, 25 June 2007 (UTC)]

On the 19th I made the following contribution to the popular culture paragraphs of the "strange loop" page. It was deleted that night. I have some questions about the criteria applied, and thought maybe it would be good for me to go to article discussion page to bring in some other voices on the matter. is this the right way to go about such things?

The material (as originally placed on June 19th)[edit]

The myriad Time-Travel paradoxes of classic Science Fiction can be perceived as creative versions of Strange Loops that fail by self-cancelling feedback. Generally they come as variations on one theme: a time-traveler alters events in the past in a way that precludes the initiation of the whole process in the first place - either by rendering time-travel itself impossible, or by somehow rendering his own existence null and void (oops!). Archetypal examples would include almost any of the many “Shoot Your Own Grandfather” stories (cf, "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed" by Alfred Bester).

The quintessential (and recognized classic) SF Time-Travel Strange Loop story is “All You Zombies—” by Robert A. Heinlein. In this short story, Heinlein creates an Anti-Paradox (or self-dependent tautological sequence) that exactly meets Douglas Hofstadter's criteria for a Strange Loop: an alteration of the past that yields the very future in which that past alteration becomes both necessary and inevitable. Specifically, a young woman becomes her own mother as well as her own father by way of a self-perpetuating time-travel loop stage-managed by her much older, time-traveling male self - who is laboring to ensure his own existence.

Explanation given for deletion[edit]

Thanks for your recent additions to Strange loop. However, as these were unforced, or personal research of your own, I reverted them according to Wikipedia policy. Take a look at WP:OR and WP:VERIFY for information on how to avoid original research, and how to cite sources. In particular, your claim that these things constitute strange loops needs to be verifiable. Cheers, Doctormatt 00:42, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the welcome, the tips and the guidelines references. Being new, there are no doubt many solecisms I have, am, and soon will be committing until I get my chops. It's always good to be offered well-meaning assistance. JTGILLICK 21:53, 20 June 2007
In regard to your reasons for the broad-brush deletion of my contribution, some questions immediately spring to mind - all of the “please be more specific in your objections” variety. Let me lay them out ...

Expansion on question of examples re strange loops in popular culture[edit]

In offering up the general statement that SF time-travel paradox stories are built on strange loops, I believe I made sufficient reference to acceptable - and accepted - material/sources; to wit:

  • I cite specific stories by Bester and Heinlein - with both authors being recognized as masters of the genre, and both stories being recognized as classics within it. I also link to the current Wikipedia entries on BESTER, HEINLEIN, and "ALL YOU ZOMBIES --". If Wikipedia itself does not suffice as a reliable source, the whole operation may be slipping into a strange loop of its own, don't you think?

Therefore, if these citations do not suffice for verifiability/reference/citation/NOR, please delineate (with specific detail) how they fail or are insufficient.

  • The general explanation of how time-travel paradoxes are strange loops - from which my specifics flow - derives directly from the content of the current strange loop article itself:
    • "Strange loops may involve self-reference and paradox" (first paragraph of article).
    • ’... an abstract loop in which, in the series of stages that constitute the cycling-around, there is a shift from one level of abstraction (or structure) to another, which feels like an upwards movement in a hierarchy, and yet somehow the successive "upward" shifts turn out to give rise to a closed cycle. That is, despite one's sense of departing ever further from one's origin, one winds up, to one's shock, exactly where one had started out. In short, a strange loop is a paradoxical level-crossing feedback loop.’” (Hofstadter, quoted in the article.)
  • To break this out in even more detail: the time-travel paradox stories I offer up as examples (again, referenced to Wiki articles) meet Hofstadter’s criteria exactly - in that forward (or “upward”) motion in “subjective time” (the traveler’s sense of his personal time) passing at normal rate as he transports backwards in time) actually shifts him backward (downward) in “objective time”. This is quite obviously ...
    • the “cycling-around” - in these case cycling around in a time sequence,
    • the “shift from one level of abstraction to another”,
    • feels like an upward (forward) movement in a hierarchy” (in these cases, the hierarchy of sequential time),
    • gives rise to a closed cycle” - specifically, the so-called “time-loops” that are the core of time-paradox SF stories.

Hence the core question (here restated): if the given references/citations are to/from material extant in Wikipedia, how exactly do they violate or fail to meet the standards laid out in WP:OR and WP:VERIFY. In your argument a suggestion arises (implied, underlying, not specified or overt) that Wikipedia itself is not a suitable source or reference. Again specificity request regarding to what degree the material entered does not meet criteria (or form) is desirable.

(Finally, absent such specifics, I would suggest that you might have done better in this matter to have placed the “citation needed” tag where you felt such citations were required (and absent). This seems to have sufficed for the two popular culture paragraphs that preceded mine.) JTGILLICK 21:53, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

[above contribution Modified for formatting and clarity by JTGILLICK 19:24, 25 June 2007 (UTC)]

Thanks for the suggestion (last paragraph) - I'm always looking to improve.
What you are doing is original research. Please note that, as stated on WP:VERIFY, "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth." What we need is a reliable third-party source which states that time-travel paradoxes of this sort constitute strange loops. Otherwise, it is just your opinion, or, if you will, your own original research (see WP:OR). The sources for the stories are fine, referencing Wikipedia itself is fine; what needs to be sourced is your claim that these things are strange loops. Cheers, Doctormatt 22:12, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I see you added your research without discussing it, so I removed it again. Please discuss this issue here before adding it again. Thanks. Doctormatt 23:52, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
... added your research without discussing it ...”? This is simply not true.
I discussed it at considerable length, directly above, June 20 - some 20+ paragraphs, 900+ words. If you can’t see that, it’s because you choose not to see it.
Please take a moment to consider your own advice of “Please discuss this issue here before editing again. ” You say you’re always looking to improve; clearly, considerable room remains. To begin, try engaging the material, instead of laboring to own the page through unilateral censorship. JTGILLICK 19:24, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Request for Comment: Strange Loops in Popular Culture[edit]

There is a dispute ongoing regarding what constitutes a legitimate example of a Strange Loop - particularly what constitutes a legitimate example of a Strange Loop in popular culture.

Comment is requested on the following points:

  • general criteria for examples of Strange Loops (from anywhere)
  • specific criteria for examples of Strange Loops in Popular Culture
  • evaluation of the example(s) given below of Strange Loops in classic Science Fiction
  • the value of a “Strange Loops in Popular Culture” section for this page

For discussion: Examples of Strange Loops in Classic Science Fiction[edit]

The myriad Time-Travel paradoxes of classic Science Fiction can be perceived as creative versions of Strange Loops that fail by self-cancelling feedback. Generally they come as variations on one theme: a time-traveler alters events in the past in a way that precludes the initiation of the whole process in the first place - either by rendering time-travel itself impossible, or by somehow rendering his own existence null and void (oops!). Archetypal examples would include almost any of the many “Shoot Your Own Grandfather” stories (cf, "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed" by Alfred Bester).

The quintessential (and recognized classic) SF Time-Travel Strange Loop story is “All You Zombies—” by Robert A. Heinlein. In this short story, Heinlein creates an Anti-Paradox (or self-dependent tautological sequence) that exactly meets Douglas Hofstadter's criteria for a Strange Loop: "... an abstract loop in which, in the series of stages that constitute the cycling-around, there is a shift from one level of abstraction (or structure) to another, which feels like an upwards movement in a hierarchy, and yet somehow the successive "upward" shifts turn out to give rise to a closed cycle. That is, despite one's sense of departing ever further from one's origin, one winds up, to one's shock, exactly where one had started out. In short, a strange loop is a paradoxical level-crossing feedback loop.

In “All You Zombies—” this recursive loop occurs by way of an alteration of the past that yields the very future in which that past alteration becomes both necessary and inevitable. Specifically, a young woman becomes her own mother as well as her own father by way of a self-perpetuating time-travel loop stage-managed by her much older, time-traveling male self - who is laboring to ensure his own existence.

nota bene: in this story the song cited on the strange loop page, "I'm My Own Grandpa" is directly referenced.

JTGILLICK 20:29, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

The above example added to page, absent dispute of discussion above, absent the solicited discussion of content and practice - and in response to on-page request for expansion of examples. JTGILLICK 20:20, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

i remember that in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Avengers_%28film%29 a character goes down stairs and finds himself at the same point where he started. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 189.167.198.34 (talk) 01:46, August 29, 2007 (UTC)

I'm not convinced that All You Zombies— is as significant as discussed above. It does have a cult following, but By His Bootstraps is another Heinlein classic that treats the same issues at least as well. It's 18 years earlier, but later isn't always better, although Heinlein probably intended it to be. John Wyndham's Chronoclasm is another strong contender, it appears in the collection The Seeds of Time of his short stories. On the other philosphical extreme, there's another classic story and I can't remember the title or author for the moment, in which an alien in a time machine accidentally picks up a guy at a construction site, accepts a cigarette from him which makes him drunk, crashes long in the past as a result of his drunkenness and then sends a distress signal to which he himself responds, but on such a timescale that the events prevent themselves from happening... but there's a twist in the tale that I won't spoil. I'll see if I can find it... Andrewa 19:44, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

The short story "Runaround" by Isaac Asimov from "I, Robot" is an example.Halberthawkins (talk) 14:50, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Droste Effect?[edit]

An expert should mention the Droste effect in this article and how it is or is not a strange loop. Katyism 15:55, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Non-Example[edit]

The following removed:

"Strange loops often involve violation of hierarchies, in which, for example, a computer program (rather than a person) writes computer programs. This, by itself, is not enough to be a strange loop (it is common practice for a compiler)."

First, this is - as self-described - a NON-example, the referencing of which does not illuminate the phenomenon. Second, this passage misconstrues the meaning of "hierarchies" in Hofstadter's definition. It rests on the subjective/social meaning of "hierarchy." That is, while a computer writing/compiling a program may violate someone's idea of the natural order of things, that order is a perceived/assumed cultural hierarchy - not a concrete structural hierarchy as in the musical, mathematical, art-rendered or temporal hierarchies Hofstadter and others give as concrete examples of the concept. JTGILLICK

Popular Culture/Science Fiction Examples returned[edit]

The section on Examples in Popular Culture and the examples therein were censored with neither discussion nor explanation. There appears to be on the part of some self-appointed censors (not editors, really) a sullen, persistent - and unexamined - resistance to examples from outside what is commonly perceived as Hard Science. This imposes a false purity (and excessively narrow filter) regarding the core concept. Further, it does so in a manner and with a result diametrically opposed to Hofstadter's own expansion of the concept into examples from diverse streams of our culture - not to mention his overt encouragement of others to do the same, while exploring its ramifications.

It is interesting to note how so expansive and inclusive a conception as Strange Loops - as brought forth in works as wide-ranging and open as Hofstadter's - invariably draws in its wake awould-be purists "more royal than the king". Here they seem compelled to exclude anything that falls the least little bit outside their comprehended range of Hofstadter-for-Dummies/PowerPoint-presentation SL examples (see Doctormatt approach earlier this year, for instance - on both this page and the Hofstadter page).

It should be considered that this sort of compulsive literalism is antithetical to the very nature of Hofstadter's thinking - and absolutely counter-productive to development of a clear understanding of the Strange Loops concept.

JTGILLICK

This really grinds against much of the point of Wikipedia - we have to always remember that this is an encyclopedia, not a place for personal expression. Wikipedia deals only in notable statements of fact that are verifiable by reliable sources. It is totally irrelevant whether or not Hofstadter personally likes to see an open expression of his terminology. Anyone who wants to follow that path is more than welcome to make their own website. It is clearly stated in Wikipedia that anything originally thought up (WP:OR), not verifiable in reliable sources (WP:V), or that contains biased language (WP:NPOV) can be removed by anyone without discussion. It is the responsibility of the editor adding the information to show that it doesn't fault against these rules, or that there is good reason for an exception. In this particular article there is a lot that violates WP:OR and WP:V and belongs more in a personal essay/blog than an encyclopedia. Remy B (talk) 08:07, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
"... notable statements of fact ... verifiable by reliable sources." Well, the statement is by Hofstadter and sums up his originating definition of Strange Loop. As the original definition it is, as itself, a fact; as it is the first and foremost definition, by the originator, it is as "notable" on this subject as is possible. And, that it is all this is verifiable by reference to Hofstdater's writings (as noted throughout the article). That the given examples in popular culture meet this definition is both IOTTCO and eminently verifiable - again, simply by way of the referenced works. JTGILLICK (talk) 20:39, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

Strange Loops in Quantum Physics and the emergence of Consciousness[edit]

I don't see this section as adding anything helpful to the document, an encyclopedic article on strange loops. Could somebody explain its value? Otherwise, I think it ought to be removed. C8755 (talk) 20:46, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Way to go, Wikinazi. You don't see its value, so it has to go... Can you see the logical error in this?
First prove that it has no value. Because you not seeing any value, does not mean that others do. First you should check with the views of world.
But this would destroy your egocentricity... So go on, play Pippi Longstocking, and make the world as it pleases you... —Preceding unsigned comment added by 88.77.137.224 (talk) 11:35, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

Example: Internet Archive[edit]

The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine (http://www.archive.org/web/web.php) is in principle (not practice) a strange loop, since one may (in principle) visit the Wayback Machine's former versions. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.146.230.189 (talk) 18:47, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Is a barber's pole a strange loop? Seems like the music example. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ohwell32 (talkcontribs) 12:09, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

xkcd comic[edit]

How is xkcd a reference? Moving it to popular culture section. vininim (talk) 17:00, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

Another reference[edit]

In Stephen King's Dark Tower Series, the ultimate fate of the protagonist is to return (much to his horror) to the exact point where the first book started, doomed to repeat it forever. My understanding is limited, but is this an example of the topic? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 4.227.111.103 (talk) 02:51, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Terminator[edit]

The Terminator movies also feature a bunch of Anti-Paradoxes (Kyle being the father of John, creating skynet from terminator technology, etc.), but "in popular culture" sections are generally worthless garbage, so I'm hesitant to include it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.167.62.120 (talk) 00:32, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Please retain content of Examples section[edit]

I noticed someone added "lists of miscellaneous information" tags on the Examples section of this article, possibly in preparation for chopping it. I would at least like to voice that I found the examples helpful to elucidating the main concept in a way the main body of the article cannot (And they are fascinating concepts each themselves). Even if the list form is removed, the examples themselves can hopefully be maintained to help all of us exemplar learners. 128.149.8.251 (talk) 17:08, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

Downward Causality[edit]

I think this section of the Wikipedia article was written by somebody who read half the book, but gave up when the text started veering into how people can cheat death (for a while) by uploading their souls to other peoples' brains. If so, I wouldn't blame whoever wrote this ... I gave up for about a month there, too, but wanted to finish and return the book, so read on despite my better judgment.

The text below is a fair summary of early chapters in I am a Strange Loop, but are very clearly not what Hofstadter believes, or intends to convey to his readers. It's very much like somebody saying "The problem with X theory is Y, because of (long and drawn out) Z ... which is solved by A." Strange Loop describes this "downward causality" where a weightless concept ( named "I" ) is able to push a 2,000 lbs car miles down the road, in obvious violation of the laws of physics. And this is what we have described in the Wikipedia article.

After building and refining his points, though, Hofstadter finally returns to this theme, showing how our intuitive feelings ( already described ) are not only wrong ( as already pointed out ), but also a strong clue that consciousness itself is an illusion. The text below is incorrect and misleading. Doug H does not believe or advocate the view that cause-and-effect is actually reversed; he suggests that the nature of consciousness is for a mind to believe that this is the case ( when it really isn't ).

This is not a minor distinction.


Original article text: Hofstadter thinks our minds can determine the world by way of "downward causality", which refers to a situation where a cause-and-effect relationship in a system gets flipped upside-down. Hofstadter claims this happens in the proof of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem: “ Merely from knowing the formula's meaning, one can infer its truth or falsity without any effort to derive it in the old-fashioned way, which requires one to trudge methodically "upwards" from the axioms. This is not just peculiar; it is astonishing. Normally, one cannot merely look at what a mathematical conjecture says and simply appeal to the content of that statement on its own to deduce whether the statement is true or false. (pp. 169-170) ”

Hofstadter claims a similar "flipping around of causality" happens in minds possessing self-consciousness. The mind perceives itself as the cause of certain feelings, ("I" am the source of my desires), while scientifically, feelings and desires are strictly caused by the interactions of neurons, and ultimately, the probabilistic laws of quantum mechanics. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.91.201.209 (talk) 23:40, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Strangeness Section.[edit]

This section is written horribly and assumes too much. What is the author trying to talk about with the "I"s? Additionally, the parentheses are ugly and unnecessary. Anybody want to try to make this section worthwhile? I move to delete the section as it doesn't seem to add any value to the article. Clifsportland (talk) 21:17, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

References to incompleteness theorem are incorrect[edit]

Article says, "Strange loops take form in human consciousness as the complexity of active symbols in the brain inevitably lead to the same kind of self-reference which Gödel proved was inherent in any complex logical or arithmetical system in his Incompleteness Theorem. [1]" This is incorrect. The incompleteness theorem /used/ self-reference, but that is not what it proved. The cited article says nothing of the sort, either (and does not even say /which/ of Godel's theorems it is talking about).

Godel's incompleteness theorem shows that in any logical system beyond a certain complexity, there will be statements whose truth-value cannot be proven true or proven false. Perhaps there is some interpretation of these results that is compatible with what this article says, but given the lack of technical references, I doubt it. Assertions should be justified, or entire lead-in should be rewritten not to make these claims. Philgoetz (talk) 22:04, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Logical or arithmetical system[edit]

Strange loops take form in human consciousness as the complexity of active symbols in the brain inevitably lead to the same kind of self-reference which Gödel proved was inherent in any complex logical or arithmetical system in his Incompleteness Theorem. Couldn't clarify, why the brain was implicitly referred to as a 'logical or arithmetical system'? It is neither, as far as experience goes: it is not bound by logic, and in fact we face difficulty and often make mistakes when we have to follow logic or calculation. We do life and knowledge in other ways. - 89.110.6.58 (talk) 02:40, 11 November 2013 (UTC)