- It’s not clear why this extract was included, as Hofstadter seems to think it rather childish and solipsistic – the latter being – I’d have thought – the opposite of the “no self” view. Maybe it’s treated as an example of how philosophy ought not to be done, though this isn’t made explicit.
- Anyway, it’s used as a springboard to introduce various other topics that are associated with the development of our understanding as we grow from infanthood through childhood to adulthood.
- These ideas will be important in the rest of the book, and include the following topics:-
- One’s Own Death: We leave the thought of our own non-existence submerged. While we understand and accept the death (and non-existence) of others, we can hardly contemplate the concept when it applies to ourselves, even though we understand that being unable to imagine ourselves as not-existing is solipsistic.
- Syllogisms as applying to Oneself: While we understand the Socratic syllogism, we’re reluctant to apply it to ourselves1.
- Oneself as a Member of a Kind: There’s an interesting – if brutal – thought experiment of a circle of dogs being “decimated”. Would the still-surviving dogs recognize themselves as being of the “dog kind” and therefore as likely to be for the chop as the others?
- Logic over-riding intuition:
- Whilst Hofstadter doesn’t reference it, this is straight out of Ivan Illych.
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- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019