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Category: Douglas R. Hofstadter

The order of chaos

“In a society like ours, the legal system is, in a sense, a polite gesture granted collectively by millions of people–and it can be overridden just as easily as a river can overflow its banks.  Then a seeming anarchy takes over; but anarchy has its own kinds of rules, no less than does civilized society: it is just that they operate from the bottom up, not from the top down.” – Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach

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Making meaning in the back room

“What is it that we respond to when we look at a painting and feel its beauty?  Is it the ‘form’ of the lines and dots on our retina?  Evidently it must be, for that is how it gets passed along to the analyzing mechanisms in our heads–but the complexity of the processing makes us feel that we are not merely looking at a two-dimensional surface; we are responding to some sort of inner meaning inside the picture, a multidimensional aspect trapped somehow inside those two dimensions.  It is the word ‘meaning’ which is important here.  Our minds contain interpreters which accept two-dimensional patterns and then ‘pull’ from them high-dimensional notions which are so complex that we cannot consciously describe them.  The same can be said about how we respond to music.” – Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach

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