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

Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander.
Publisher Basic Books  
Format hardcover
ISBN 9780465018475
Pages/Publication Date 578/2013
Daedalus Item Code 38543
This item is not available.
Analogy is the essential component of all thinking—this is the simple but unorthodox premise that Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander defend in this brilliant, lucid, and detailed exploration of thought. Both cognitive scientists who specialize in how we create analogies, Hofstadter (the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach) and Sander (author of Analogy, from the Naïve to the Creative) posit that our brain's main job is to make sense of the swarming chaos of stimuli and situations we confront every day. This hail of input triggers analogies galore, variously inspiring comparative words, parables, aphorisms, or long-buried memories to help us react appropriately to what is going on. Far from an occasional activity, analogy-making is the meat and potatoes, the heart and soul, the fuel and fire, the lifeblood and wellspring of thoughts—from the most fleeting to the most profound—as Hofstadter and Sander thoroughly and delightfully explain.

"Surfaces and Essences has much of both. And more. This book is fun! And serious. Category, analogy (and similarity) are at the core of cognition. On every page, you will find delights: you will be informed, you will be puzzled; you will agree vehemently and you will disagree just as vehemently; you will ponder. And you will return for more."—Barbara Tversky

"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."—Steven Pinker

"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."—Gerald Holton

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