In college, I was pretty blown away by this book. So when I stumbled across the MIT openware course on Douglas Hofstadter’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, I just had to share it:

Here’s the MIT course description:

What do one mathematician, one artist, and one musician all have in common? Are you interested in zen Buddhism, math, fractals, logic, paradoxes, infinities, art, language, computer science, physics, music, intelligence, consciousness and unified theories? Get ready to chase me down a rabbit hole into Douglas Hofstadter’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach. Lectures will be a place for crazy ideas to bounce around as we try to pace our way through this enlightening tome. You will be responsible for most of the reading as lectures will consist primarily of motivating the material and encouraging discussion. I advise everyone seriously interested to buy the book, grab on and get ready for a mind-expanding voyage into higher dimensions of recursive thinking.

Videos are found here (Real Player Required)

Category: Mathematics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

11 Responses to “Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey”

  1. David Merkel says:

    This was one of my favorite books in my 20s. A real classic. Teaches you a lot about logic and its limits.

  2. doug says:

    Ok, I started that book at least 3 times. I am in awe of anyone who ‘it spoke to’. Seriously smart, you are.

  3. Greg0658 says:

    The series looks interesting. I guess I have to get RealPlayer back in this machine.

    On the subject of stumbling across openware courses (found last-nite) .. here is a guy using YouTube in an interesting way .. almost a hundred songs of closeup strummin’ & bass frettin’ for budding electric bass players

    Simply Red – Something Got Me Started – Bass Cover by infusion26

  4. hey barry –

    i was just reading the nytimes piece on gross in it and thanked the lord for your quote of reason.

    kudos on the book’s overwhelming success!

  5. The Curmudgeon says:


    I too saw your quote in the piece on Gross (the evil mastermind of the world, IMO). NYT might just want to give you a column. Just as I got finished reading the piece my daughter woke up and brought me a Father’s Day gift:

    Bailout Nation!

    Some days are diamonds, even for one as irascible and churlish as I. Allow me to say thanks for keeping this forum, and steadfastly calling ‘em like you see ‘em, ’cause you’ve got a great view of The Big Picture.

    The Curmudgeon

  6. BR,

    this might be a good time to suggest that you/TBP puts together a “Need to Read”/”Books to Own” List that includes Titles outside of the, generally, narrowly percieved domain of Fin/Econ..

    Godel Escher Bach: Eternal Golden

    Bailout Nation

    you know, for starters.. ~

  7. VennData says:

    From GEB: “The word ‘word’ defines itself. ‘Word’ is a word that that defines itself. ‘Word’ is a self-defining word. ‘Word,’ also is a word in the group of words that define themselves. What about ‘non-self-defining?’ Does ‘non-self-defining’ fit into that same group of words? ‘Non-self-defining’ is a word that does not define itself, since it’s non-self-defining. But then if it doesn’t define itself, it is non-self-defining! So is it part of the group – or set – or not?”

    Some Self-defining words: Data, Noun, Adjective-like, un-ryhmeable, Capitalized, Intangible, Concept, Idea, Symbol, Name, Short, Polysyllabic, Heterological

    Some Non-Self-defining words: Non-self-defining, Abbreviated, Mono-syllabic, Yellow, Spoken, Mispelled, Portmanteau, There

    I’ve kept this list – referring to the Godel Incompleteness Theorem, since reading the book, adding words as I see them etc.

    Also see the Grelling-Nelson Paradox, Bertrand Russell’s paradox, etc.

  8. Greg0658 says:

    back from watchin the 1st hour of 6 .. (after loading Real and checking Wiki for Reals philosophy on business)

    I hated math in school .. earth sciences and graphics where my avenues of accomplishable hope

    at 40 min and 52m seems (the room has squeeks) some folks prefer to stay on math and off the philosophy (I think its used as an interlude / maybe wake the sheep)

    to go BP on ya … I feel sorry for the kids today .. music has gone somewhere .. I loved growing up in the 70s80s .. chord progression in songs would get picked up and transform from band to band leading you from one entity to another slowly adding a slightly different rift

    I can’t put my finger on IT .. I think we got the ultimate manna … where is there to go from there . but lazy slurping up the fruit … now we are in the dreaded loop of churning for cash flow to survive . at a stupified intellect level … the churn will produce stuff for you

    happy fathers day
    (and I am still immensely proud to have filled in the Obama oval)

  9. simplycharly says:

    I, too, have been trying to wade through Hofstadter’s tome for over a decade. It’s certainly a book which one can mine for enlightening nuggets over a lifetime. Roger Penrose’s book “The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and The Laws of Physics” is another such book which follows the same path that Hofstadter blazed a decade earlier.

    I created a website in honor of KURT GÖDEL at

    And here are a couple of interviews with eminent mathematicians who have spent a lifetime wrestling with GÖDEL’S proofs.

  10. DiggidyDan says:

    I would recommend Krome Barrat’s Logic and Design in Art, Science, and Mathematics