By the way, in passing, it is interesting to note that all results essentially dependent on the fusion of subject and object have been limitative results.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
The amazing thing about language is how imprecisely we use it and still manage to get away with it.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
"At a very early age, I made an assumption that a successful physicist only needs to know elementary mathematics," he said. "At a later time, with great regret, I realized that the assumption of mine was completely wrong"
— Walter Isaacson, Einstein
Even if a brain is, in a technical and abstract sense, some sort of formal system, it remains true that mathematicians only work with simple and elegant systems, systems in which everythign is extremely cearly defined—and the brain is a far cry from that, with its ten billion or more semi-independent neurons, quasi-randomly connected up to each other. So mathematicians would never study a real brain's networks. And if you define "mathematics" as what mathematicians enjoy doing, then the properties of brains are not mathematical.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
For, Maxwell, this novel use of analogy - building models - was the way forward to better understand the physical principles of the natural world. While still a student at Cambridge, he had written: "Whenever [men] see a relation between two things they know well, and think they see there must be a similar relation between things less known, they reason from one to the other. This supposes that, although pairs of things may differ wildly from each other, the realtion in the one pair may be the same as that in the other."
— Brian Clegg, Professor Maxwell's Duplicitous Demon: The Life and Science of James Clerk Maxwell
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
You should ask mom for some new shorts... Mom would be happy to buy you shorts.
— Kathleen
Human brains have not evolved to understand large numbers. As a result, we tend to vastly underestimate how large "one billion" is. This may help:
One million seconds = 11 days
One billion seconds = 32 years
— @emilyisliving, "Billionaires Shouldn't Exist"
Tortoise: You've undoubtedly noticed how some authors go to so much trouble to build up great tension a few pages before the end of their stories—but a reader who is holding the book in his hands can FEEL that the story is about to end. Hence, he has some extra information which acts as an advanced warning, in a way. The tension is a bit spoiled by the physicality of the book. It would be so much better if, for instance, there were a lot of padding at the end of novels.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
Where does the information reside?... Somehow, it must be spread about in the colony, in the caste distribution, the age distribution—and probably largely in the physical properties of the ant-body itself. That is, the interaction between ants is determined just as much by their six-leggedness and their size and so on, as by the information stored in their brain.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
Achilles: It is interesting to me to compare the merits of the descriptions at various levels. The highest-level description seems to carry the most explanatory power, in that it gives you the most intuitive picture of the ant colony, although strangely enough, it leaves out seemingly the most important feature—the ants.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
As for the white oppressors, their greatest crime is their "innocence"; they "have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it." Ida had told Vivaldo in Another Country that he had no right not to "know."
— David Leeming, James Baldwin
And finally, it had to do with the fact that what one can and cannot see "says something about you."
— David Leeming, James Baldwin
Nearly everyone is surprised to find out that in actual play, a master rarely looks ahead any further than a novice does... The trick is that his mode of percieving the board is like a filter: he literally does not see bad moves when he looks at a chess situation—no more than chess amateurs see illegal moves when they look at a chess situation. Anyone who has played even a little chess has organized his perception so that the diagonal rook-moves, forward capture by pawns, and so forth, are never brought to mind. Similarly, master-level players have built up higher leves of organization in the way they see the board.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
In other words, TNT doesn't formalize the notions of tension and resolution, goal and subgoal, "naturalness" and "inevitability", any more than a piece of music is a book about harmony and rhythm.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
What if everything was named that way? Lady bugs would be sister red wings, ants would be uncle three dots, moths would be brother dust wings... caterpillars, baby hair log... mosquitoes, cousin thin spring...
— Lily on if everything was named like daddy long legs
I have to keep reminding myself of my age.
— Sid
It seems that the clarity of the outer message resides in the sheer length of the message. This is not unexpected; it parallels precisely what happens in deciphering ancient texts. Clearly, one's likelyhood of success depends crutially on the amount of text available.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
We keep on running up against "sameness-in-differentness", and the question
When are two things the same?
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
I read that report . . . of the 1919 riot in Chicago, and it is as if I were reading the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of ’35, the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of ’43, the report of the McCone Commission on the Watts riot. I must again in candor say to you members of this Commission—it is a kind of Alice in Wonderland—with the same moving picture re-shown over and over again, the same analysis, the same recommendations, and the same inaction.
— Kenneth B. Clark, via "Police," Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
That's a junk moth.
— Emily on a moth not worth saving
Genie: Oh, aren't you acquainted with recursive acronyms? I thought everybody knew about them. You see, "GOD" stands for "GOD Over Djinn"—which can be expanded to "GOD Over Djinn, Over Djinn"—and that can, in turn, be expanded to "GOD Over Djinn, Over Djinn, Over Djinn"—which can, in turn, be further expanded . . . You can go as far as you like.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
Tortoise: Really, there was nothing the matter, nothing at all. It simply couldn't reproduce the sounds on the record which I had brought him, because they were sounds that would make it vibrate and break.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
But the statements, since they're represented by means of a small and stylized set of symbols, take on the aspect of patterns. In other words, though when read aloud, they seem to be statements about numbers and their properties, still when looked at on paper, they seem to be abstract patterns—and the line-by-line structure of the proof may start to look like a slow transformation of patterns according to some few typographical rules.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
Headquarters essentially restricted them to stenographic duties—long hours of tedium interrupted by disputes over how to distinguish one muffled voice from another over earphones. As consolation, they developed a kibitzer's interest in King's world, along with a proprietary stake in its importance.
— Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965
My gift is going to be to get you to be an accredited university so I get credit hanging out with you.
— Lily
Epimenides was a Cretan who made one immortal statement: "All Cretans are liars."
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach