The cover of I Am A Strange Loop

I Am A Strange Loop

by Douglas R. Hofstadter

Classic Hofstadter: ideas in mathematics and philosophy applied to fundamental existential questions. Unfortunately, this book reads (ironically) like stream-of-consciousness riffing, and doesn’t ever really pay off some of the broad-reaching abstractions he dreams up.

My favorite parts were the sections on self-reference. This is where I got really excited about the idea of “I,” where I felt like Hofstadter had something unique going on. When we say “I’m hungry,” who is doing the talking? Who is the sentence about? Can those two people be the same person? Looking at these questions through the lens of Russel’s dismantling of Principia Mathematica was really cool.

By the end, I was putting my head down and reading through to get it over with. I’d definitely recommend keeping the book on your shelf, but don’t put too much into it.