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The Mind's I: Fantasies And Reflections On Self & Soul

Douglas R Hofstadter, Daniel C. Dennett · 4 HN comments
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Amazon Summary
With contributions from Jorge Luis Borges, Richard Dawkins, John Searle, and Robert Nozick, The Mind's I explores the meaning of self and consciousness through the perspectives of literature, artificial intelligence, psychology, and other disciplines. In selections that range from fiction to scientific speculations about thinking machines, artificial intelligence, and the nature of the brain, Hofstadter and Dennett present a variety of conflicting visions of the self and the soul as explored through the writings of some of the twentieth century's most renowned thinkers.
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Terrel Miedaner's story The Soul of the Mark III Beast (1977) republished in 'The Mind's I' describes this situation exactly.

https://www.amazon.com/Minds-Fantasies-Reflections-Self-Soul...

Have a look at the "The mind's I" [1]. It is a collection of essays and other short texts on consciousness, self, AI and strange loops with added commentary by Hofstadter and Dennett.

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/Minds-Fantasies-Reflections-Self-Soul/...

An interesting collection of essays and short stories that investigate concepts related to your observation is http://www.amazon.com/The-Minds-Fantasies-Reflections-Self/d..., which I'm almost finished with. It has a lot of thought-provoking arguments. Edited by Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennet.
Weird compared to what? I have no experience being anything other than a living, breathing human. Thomas Nagle wrote up the classic "qualia" argument you're making as "What is it like to be a Bat?" (here: http://www.clarku.edu/students/philosophyclub/docs/nagel.pdf..., it seems persuasive: that there is a certain subjective quality to consciousness & conscious experience— it must feel like something to be a bat, or a person, or whatever? Hofstadter's and Dennett's book, The Mind's I (http://www.amazon.com/Minds-Fantasies-Reflections-Self-Soul/...) is an interesting introduction to this kind of stuff, the authors have a lot of fun @ qualia's expense.
bkovitz
The "weirdness" (or whatever you want to call the enormous explanatory gap between our mental lives and inanimate matter) deserves an answer. It's not something to sweep under the rug as "subjective" or "unscientific" or "poorly defined".

I agree, though, Hofstadter and Dennett have done an extraordinary job of devising such an answer. There is lots more work to be done, of course.

ewjordan
The "weirdness" (or whatever you want to call the enormous explanatory gap between our mental lives and inanimate matter) deserves an answer. It's not something to sweep under the rug as "subjective" or "unscientific" or "poorly defined".

But what if the answer to the "weirdness" question is, in fact, that it's just an ill-formed question? What if it's just an illusion, and your brain is tricked into seeing something magical about itself where there is nothing there?

Apart from a mystical explanation, I cannot imagine any satisfying answer to the question (i.e. one that doesn't leave you feeling uneasy like Hofstadter's answer does to most people), which usually means that there's something wrong with what we're asking, not with how we're trying to answer it.

bkovitz
I would be satisfied with a good explanation of why the question is ill-formed, how the illusion comes about, etc.

I really don't think the question is ill-formed, though. There is a big explanatory gap. Denying that is simply dishonest. It would be like, if you don't know why a bicycle is easier to balance when it's moving, pretending that there is nothing to explain. "Oh, it's just bicycle parts."

ewjordan
If you're digging into Hofstadter (and if you aren't, you should be, whether or not you agree with him, almost every word he's ever written is worth reading, including the seemingly irrelevant stuff about translations), I Am A Strange Loop (http://www.amazon.com/Am-Strange-Loop-Douglas-Hofstadter/dp/...) is a good read, as well.
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