Analogy is everything

Ordered a copy (I don’t know what happened to the copy that I read in 1980!) of “Gödel, Escher, Bach – an eternal golden braid“, the Pulitzer-prize-winning non-fiction book by Douglas Hofstadter. Found his “Stanford Presidential Lectures 2006“: there he says, basically, that the making (and using of) analogy (or, in my speak, a particular way of forming and applying patterns) is at the core of problem-solving. He says:

“One should not think of analogy-making as a special variety of reasoning (as in the dull and uninspiring phrase “analogical reasoning and problem-solving,” a long-standing cliché in the cognitive-science world), for that is to do analogy a terrible disservice. After all, reasoning and problem-solving have (at least I dearly hope!) been at long last recognized as lying far indeed from the core of human thought. If analogy were merely a special variety of something that in itself lies way out on the peripheries, then it would be but an itty-bitty blip in the broad blue sky of cognition. To me, however, analogy is anything but a bitty blip — rather, it’s the very blue that fills the whole sky of cognition — analogy is everything, or very nearly so, in my view.”

It is interesting that the existence of the so-called mirror neurons might be a neuro-physiological explanation of this principle. I am looking forward to reading GEB – also because Hofstadter has very successfully connected artistic, musical and mathematical aspects.

Incidentally, Hofstadter’s latest book (“I am a strange loop”) has received exactly one, very negative review (good humouredly titled: “Latest Sermon from the Church of Fundamentalist Naturalism“), which is more like an essay of someone who seems to disagree with Hofstadter on the grounds that he sees him as a terrible reductionist materialist – the review is interesting and worth reading – operates mainly with Wittgenstein and J. R. Searle, two prominent contemporary philosophers of consciousness.

In the 1980s JR Searle had a famour feud with Jacques Derrida, the doyen of deconstruction.

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