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Surfaces and Essences
Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking
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Longlisted for the 2014 PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award Science "Surfaces and Essences warrants a place alongside Godel, 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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Douglas Hofstadter is Distinguished College of Arts and Sciences Professor of Cognitive Science and Comparative Literature at Indiana University. His previous books include Goedel, 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 Naive to the Creative.
Prologue: Analogy as the Core of Cognition 1. The Evocation of Words 2. The Evocation of Phrases 3. A Vast Ocean of Invisible Analogies 4. Abstraction and Inter-category Sliding 5. How Analogies Manipulate Us 6. How We Manipulate Analogies 7. Naive Analogies 8. Analogies that Shook the World Epidialogue: Katy and Anna Debate the Core of Cognition