By Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander
Analogy is the middle of all thinking.
This is the straightforward yet unorthodox premise that Pulitzer Prizewinning writer Douglas Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander guard of their new paintings. Hofstadter has been grappling with the mysteries of human suggestion for over thirty years. Now, along with his trademark wit and specified expertise for making complicated principles brilliant, he has partnered with Sander to place forth a hugely novel standpoint on cognition.
We are continuously confronted with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined events. Our brain’s activity is to attempt to make experience of this unpredictable, swarming chaos of stimuli. How does it accomplish that? The ceaseless hail of enter triggers analogies galore, assisting us to pinpoint the essence of what's happening. frequently this suggests the spontaneous evocation of phrases, occasionally idioms, occasionally the triggering of anonymous, long-buried memories.
Why did two-year-old Camille proudly exclaim, I undressed the banana!”? Why do those who listen a narrative usually blurt out, Exactly an identical factor occurred to me!” while it used to be a totally varied occasion? How can we realize an competitive driving force from a split-second look in our rearview replicate? What in a friend’s comment triggers the offhand answer, That’s simply bitter grapes”? What did Albert Einstein see that made him suspect that mild comprises debris while a century of study had pushed the ultimate nail within the coffin of that long-dead idea?
The solution to these kinds of questions, in fact, is analogy-makingthe meat and potatoes, the center and soul, the gas and hearth, the gist and the crux, the lifeblood and the wellsprings of concept. Analogy-making, faraway from taking place at infrequent durations, happens in any respect moments, defining pondering from most sensible to toe, from the tiniest and such a lot fleeting concepts to the main artistic clinical insights.
Like Gödel, Escher, Bach earlier than it, Surfaces and Essences will profoundly enhance our knowing of our personal minds. via plunging the reader into a unprecedented number of colourful occasions concerning language, concept, and reminiscence, through revealing little by little the regularly churning cognitive mechanisms commonly thoroughly hidden from view, and via gaining knowledge of in them one critical, invariant corethe incessant, subconscious quest for powerful analogical hyperlinks to earlier experiencesthis e-book places forth a thorough and deeply miraculous new imaginative and prescient of the act of considering.
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Extra info for Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking
There isn’t a single thought that isn’t deeply and multiply anchored in the past. To use the elevator in an apartment building that one has never been in before, does one not tacitly depend on the analogy with countless elevators that one has used before? And when one examines this analogy, one sees that, despite its seeming blandness, it depends on numerous others. For example, once you’ve entered the elevator, you have to choose a small button you’ve never seen before, and you have to press it with a certain finger and a certain force, and you do that without thinking about it whatsoever (or more accurately, without noticing that you are thinking about it).
We claim that cognition takes place thanks to a constant flow of categorizations, and that at the base of it all is found, in contrast to classification (which aims to put all things into fixed and rigid mental boxes), the phenomenon of categorization through analogy-making, which endows human thinking with its remarkable fluidity. Thanks to categorization through analogy-making, we have the ability to spot similarities and to exploit these similarities in order to deal with the new and strange.
Obviously not, because, as we just saw, everyone depends, without thinking, on a dense avalanche of mini-analogies between everyday things, and these mini-analogies follow on the heels of one another all day long, day in, day out — and seldom do such mundane analogies mislead anyone. Indeed, if they did, we would not be here to tell the tale. Giant Electronic Dunces How can computers be so terribly stupid, despite being so blindingly fast and having such huge and infallible memories? Contrariwise, how can human beings be so insightful despite being so limited in speed and having such small and fallible memories?
Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking by Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander