Saturday, May 26, 2007

GEB Week 1: Ch 1-3

This week's reading contains an infinite hierarchy of meaning and fun. There are many explicit and hidden puzzles to be solved, and I won't ruin them for you, but certainly encourage you to work through them yourself. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2 which I found interesting:

People enjoy inventing slogans which violate basic arithmetic but which illustrate "deeper" truths, such as "1 and 1 make 1" (for lovers), or "1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 1" (The Trinity). You can easily pick holes in those slogans, showing why, for instance, using the plus-sign is inappropriate in both cases. But such cases proliferate. Two raindrops running down a window-pane merge; does one plus one make one? A cloud breaks up into two clouds--more evidence for the same? It is not at all easy to draw a sharp line between cases where what is happening could be called "addition", and where some other word is wanted. (GEB99 56)

This hints at a very important theme of the book; that counting in hierarchical systems can be "fuzzy." Does this reflect a deep aspect of reality, or rather, the function and organization of the brain?

No comments: