Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking

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9780465018475: Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking

Analogy is the core of all thinking.

This is the simple but unorthodox premise that Pulitzer Prize winning author Douglas Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander defend in their new work. Hofstadter has been grappling with the mysteries of human thought for over thirty years. Now, with his trademark wit and special talent for making complex ideas vivid, he has partnered with Sander to put forth a highly novel perspective on cognition.

We are constantly faced with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined situations. Our brain's job is to try to make sense of this unpredictable, swarming chaos of stimuli. How does it do so? The ceaseless hail of input triggers analogies galore, helping us to pinpoint the essence of what is going on. Often this means the spontaneous evocation of words, sometimes idioms, sometimes the triggering of nameless, long-buried memories.

Why did two-year-old Camille proudly exclaim, I undressed the banana!”? Why do people who hear a story often blurt out, Exactly the same thing happened to me!” when it was a completely different event? How do we recognize an aggressive driver from a split-second glance in our rearview mirror? What in a friend's remark triggers the offhand reply, That's just sour grapes”? What did Albert Einstein see that made him suspect that light consists of particles when a century of research had driven the final nail in the coffin of that long-dead idea?

The answer to all these questions, of course, is analogy-making the meat and potatoes, the heart and soul, the fuel and fire, the gist and the crux, the lifeblood and the wellsprings of thought. Analogy-making, far from happening at rare intervals, occurs at all moments, defining thinking from top to toe, from the tiniest and most fleeting thoughts to the most creative scientific insights.

Like Gödel, Escher, Bach before it, Surfaces and Essences will profoundly enrich our understanding of our own minds. By plunging the reader into an extraordinary variety of colorful situations involving language, thought, and memory, by revealing bit by bit the constantly churning cognitive mechanisms normally completely hidden from view, and by discovering in them one central, invariant core the incessant, unconscious quest for strong analogical links to past experiences this book puts forth a radical and deeply surprising new vision of the act of thinking.

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About the Author:

Douglas Hofstadter is Distinguished College of Arts and Sciences Professor of Cognitive Science and Comparative Literature at Indiana University. His previous books include Gödel, Escher, Bach (which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1980) and Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies.

Emmanuel Sander is Professor of Cognitive and Developmental Psychology at the University of Paris (Saint-Denis), specializing in the study of analogy-making and categorization and their connections to education. Among his previous works is the book Analogy, from the Naïve to the Creative.

Review:

Longlisted for the 2014 PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

Science
Surfaces and Essences warrants a place alongside Gödel, Escher, Bach and major recent treatments of human cognition. Analogy is not the endpoint of understanding, but its indispensable beginning.”

Nature
Lucid and, page for page, a delight to read.... [Surfaces and Essences contains] gems of insight.”

Wall Street Journal
"Clear, lively, and personal."

Globe and Mail (Canada)
Knowing what makes a duck a bird and what makes a plane not a bird may not seem like very profound mental feats but Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander see such cognitive connections as part of an extraordinarily profound process.... Be prepared to become hyper-conscious of the myriad of analogies one makes every moment of every day.... The end result is a book that is ambitious and provocative.”

Booklist, starred review
A revelatory foray into the dynamics of the mind.”

Library Journal
Like Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize-winning Godel, Escher, Bach, this work executes, from a very complex thesis, an understanding by general readers while also appealing to specialists in philosophy of mind and cognitive science.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review
How do we know what we know? How do we know at all? With an enjoyable blend of hard science and good storytelling, Hofstadter and French psychologist Sander tackle these most elusive of philosophical matters.... [I]t's worth sticking with [Hofstadter's] long argument, full of up-to-date cognitive science and, at the end, a beguiling look at how the theory of relativity owes to analogy.... First rate popular science: difficult but rewarding.”

Melanie Mitchell, Professor of Computer Science, Portland State University, and author of Complexity: A Guided Tour
Hofstadter and Sander's book is a wonderful and insightful account of the role of analogy in cognition. Immensely enjoyable, with a plethora of fascinating examples and anecdotes, this book will make you understand your own thought processes in a wholly new way. It's analogy all the way down!”

Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought
I am one of those cognitive scientists who believe that analogy is a key to explaining human intelligence. This magnum opus by Douglas Hofstadter, who has reflected on the nature of analogy for decades, and Emmanuel Sander, is a milestone in our understanding of human thought, filled with insights and new ideas.”

Gerald Holton, Professor of Physics and History of Science, Emeritus, Harvard University
Hofstadter and Sander's book starts with two audacious goals: to show that none of us can think a minute without using a variety of analogies, and that becoming aware of this fact can help us think more clearly. Then, patiently and with humor, the authors prove their claims across the whole spectrum, from everyday conversation to scientific thought processes, even that of Einstein.”

Nancy J. Nersessian, Professor of Cognitive Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, and author of Creating Scientific Concepts
Placing analogy at the core of cognition Hofstadter and Sander provide a persuasive answer to the question what is thought?' Analogy is the mechanism underlying the myriad instances of concept formation and categorization we perform throughout any day, whether unconscious or explicit, without which there would be no thought. They mount a compelling case through analysis of a wealth of insightful imaginative and real exemplars, from everyday thinking to the highest achievements of the human mind, which are sure to persuade a broad range of readers.”

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Descripción The Perseus Books Group, United States, 2013. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In a major new work from the author of `Godel, Escher, Bach and I Am a Strange Loop`, two leading scholars argue that analogy is the basis for all human thoughts. From this singular premise, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Doug Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander construct a broad argument that explains how analogies help us find order out of the chaos of the world. From the simplest forms (a single word, category, or phrase) to infinitely complex constructions (an idiom, or proverb, or algorithm) analogies are the tools our brains use to interpret and master daily life. We are faced with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined situations, none of which comes with a sharp frame delineating it, either spatially or temporally. Our brain is constantly grappling with this unpredictable chaos, always trying to make sense of what surrounds it and swarms into it. How do we make sense of this? The authors argue that these situations provoke an automatic triggering, or unconscious evocation, of certain familiar categories, which, once retrieved from dormancy, help us to organise the enormous potential of our brain. To a large extent, this means the spontaneous coming-to-mind of all sorts of words. And from the simplest of words to the most complex of idiomatic constructions, the retrieval and usage of analogies are the common thread in all of our thoughts. But where do these words come from, and how do they bubble up? What is going on when one merely thinks silently to oneself, a mother and her daughter ? These are the question Hofstadter and Sander grapple with. With his trademark wit and singular talent for making complex ideas both accessible and yet still provocatively challenging, Hofstadter has partnered with Sander to create a major new contribution to the study of how the mind works. Nº de ref. de la librería AA29780465018475

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Descripción The Perseus Books Group, United States, 2013. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In a major new work from the author of `Godel, Escher, Bach and I Am a Strange Loop`, two leading scholars argue that analogy is the basis for all human thoughts. From this singular premise, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Doug Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander construct a broad argument that explains how analogies help us find order out of the chaos of the world. From the simplest forms (a single word, category, or phrase) to infinitely complex constructions (an idiom, or proverb, or algorithm) analogies are the tools our brains use to interpret and master daily life. We are faced with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined situations, none of which comes with a sharp frame delineating it, either spatially or temporally. Our brain is constantly grappling with this unpredictable chaos, always trying to make sense of what surrounds it and swarms into it. How do we make sense of this? The authors argue that these situations provoke an automatic triggering, or unconscious evocation, of certain familiar categories, which, once retrieved from dormancy, help us to organise the enormous potential of our brain. To a large extent, this means the spontaneous coming-to-mind of all sorts of words. And from the simplest of words to the most complex of idiomatic constructions, the retrieval and usage of analogies are the common thread in all of our thoughts. But where do these words come from, and how do they bubble up? What is going on when one merely thinks silently to oneself, a mother and her daughter ? These are the question Hofstadter and Sander grapple with. With his trademark wit and singular talent for making complex ideas both accessible and yet still provocatively challenging, Hofstadter has partnered with Sander to create a major new contribution to the study of how the mind works. Nº de ref. de la librería AA29780465018475

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Descripción The Perseus Books Group, United States, 2013. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In a major new work from the author of `Godel, Escher, Bach and I Am a Strange Loop`, two leading scholars argue that analogy is the basis for all human thoughts. From this singular premise, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Doug Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander construct a broad argument that explains how analogies help us find order out of the chaos of the world. From the simplest forms (a single word, category, or phrase) to infinitely complex constructions (an idiom, or proverb, or algorithm) analogies are the tools our brains use to interpret and master daily life. We are faced with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined situations, none of which comes with a sharp frame delineating it, either spatially or temporally. Our brain is constantly grappling with this unpredictable chaos, always trying to make sense of what surrounds it and swarms into it. How do we make sense of this? The authors argue that these situations provoke an automatic triggering, or unconscious evocation, of certain familiar categories, which, once retrieved from dormancy, help us to organise the enormous potential of our brain. To a large extent, this means the spontaneous coming-to-mind of all sorts of words. And from the simplest of words to the most complex of idiomatic constructions, the retrieval and usage of analogies are the common thread in all of our thoughts. But where do these words come from, and how do they bubble up? What is going on when one merely thinks silently to oneself, a mother and her daughter ? These are the question Hofstadter and Sander grapple with. With his trademark wit and singular talent for making complex ideas both accessible and yet still provocatively challenging, Hofstadter has partnered with Sander to create a major new contribution to the study of how the mind works. Nº de ref. de la librería BZE9780465018475

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Descripción The Perseus Books Group, 2013. Estado de conservación: New. 2013. First Edition. Hardcover. In a major new work from the author of Godel, Escher, Bach and I Am a Strange Loop, two leading scholars argue that analogy is the basis for all human thoughts. Num Pages: 512 pages, 10 b&w illustrations. BIC Classification: HPM. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 240 x 199 x 45. Weight in Grams: 1066. . . . . . . Nº de ref. de la librería V9780465018475

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