Robin (zanfur) wrote in exegeses,
Robin
zanfur
exegeses

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Oh, hey, almost forgot this one!

So, given the rambling and somewhat disconnected nature of the Essays in Metamagical Themas, it looks like it's a good idea to trim the list of which chapters to actually read. So, which chapters do people feel like reading? I've italicized the ones we've already read (as of 2004.07.27), striked out the ones we want to avoid, and bolded the ones that have been suggested so far. Here's the list:

Section I: Snags and Snarls

  1. On Self-Referential Sentences
  2. Self-Referential Sentences: A Follow-Up
  3. On Viral Sentences and Self-Replicating Structures
  4. Nomic: A Self-Modifying Game Based on Reflexivity in Law

Section II: Sense and Society

  1. World Views in Collision: The Skeptical Inquirer versus the National Enquirer
  2. On Number Numbness
  3. Changes in Default Words and Images, Engendered by Rising Consciousness
  4. A Person Paper on Purity in Language

Section III: Sparking and Slipping

  1. Pattern, Poetry, and Power in the Music of Frederic Chopin
  2. Parquet Deformations: A Subtle, Intricate Art Form
  3. Stuff and Nonsense
  4. Variations on a Theme as the Crux of Creativity
  5. Metafont, Metamathematics, and Metaphysics

Section IV: Structure and Strangeness

  1. Magic Cubology
  2. On Crossing the Rubicon
  3. Mathematical Chaos and Strange Attractors
  4. Lisp: Atoms and Lists
  5. Lisp: Lists and Recursion
  6. Lisp: Recursion and Generality
  7. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Section V: Spirit and Substrate

  1. Review of Alan Turing.- The Enigma
  2. A Coffeehouse Conversation on the Turing Test
  3. On the Seeming Paradox of Mechanizing Creativity
  4. Analogies and Roles in Human and Machine Thinking
  5. Who Shoves Whom Around Inside the Careenium?
  6. Waking Up from the Boolean Dream, or, Subcognition as Computation

Section VI: </em>Selection and Stability</em>

  1. The Genetic Code: Arbitrary?
  2. Undercut, Flaunt, Pounce, and Mediocrity: Psychological Games with Numbers
  3. The Prisoner's Dilemma Computer Tournaments and the Evolution of Cooperation

Section VII: Sanity and Survival

  1. Dilemmas for Superrational Thinkers, Leading Up to a Luring Lottery
  2. Irrationality Is the Square Root of All Evil
  3. The Tale of Happiton
  4. The Tumult of Inner Voices, or, What is the Meaning of the Word "I"?

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i'd recommend skipping the lisp stuff. those who know already will be bored, and those who don't won't get enough out of it / can read it by themselves.

Yup, I agree. And I think skipping the rubicon stuff is a good idea, too. Section IV in general pretty much sucks in terms of discussability, except possibly for the strange attractors chapter.

I'd really like to go over sections III, V, and VI though. Have you read the entire book? If so, what did you think of it?
i have read the whole book, and i really enjoyed it. i can't pinpoint anything in particular except that i found the font stuff fascinating.
I would far rather rotate around the group, like you and I discussed, and let people pick what they want to read. You would be welcome to pick whatever Hofstadter chapters you'd like, and when it's my turn I can pick something I find less torturous. ;)
I second the motion. I would really love to discuss something like C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and seem to recall the other books you suggested when I asked you what you would want to read were intriguing too.
I concur to rotate what we read. We can keep reading MT, with break for other things as chosen by other people.
I've been meaning to read that one for a while, but it doesn't strike me as good exegeses fodder. From what I know, it's just an argument for christianity -- perhaps you know more than I?

Also, I know I recommended some books, but I forget what they are. Do you remember any of them?
I have read Mere Christianity twice, and have been meaning to read it again for a year or so now. As I recall, it is a pretty rational, logical argument for Christianity, yes, but from a guy who was once an avowed atheist, and how knows how to reason (or at least seems to know). Part of why I would like to read it again is that the big points that seem so good to me never seem to stick very well in my mind, so I want to read it again to remember what it was that seemed to make so much sense to me. (Although I seem to recall at one point thinking something along the lines of, "Well, yeah, this makes a lot of sense. For God. Where does Jesus come in?" but that might be neither here nor there.) But more importantly, I want to take another stab at it to see if it actually does hold up, and reading it in a setting like exegeses seems ideal for that - having other skeptical, analytic people reading it and looking for faulty logic, etc. Having other people reading it critically lessens the possibility that Lewis will be able to just pull the wool over my eyes with fancy rhetoric. Ultimately I think it probably is pretty consistent based upon the assumptions Lewis makes, but I would like to know if it is not, and maybe what those assumptions are.

Oh, and I remembered another one smirkingjustice recommended: Lewis' Screwtape Letters. That one would certainly be entertaining, but I am less certain that there would be much to discuss. The basic premise is that the book is a series of letters from one devil to his protegé, a younger, less experienced devil. The older one shares his wisdom about corrupting mortals, and combating the subtle tactics of God, etc. It is very amusing, but also frequently very insightful into the ways people falter and justify themselves.

I do not recall any of the books you recommended, but that is probably because I had not heard of them before, while I have heard of (and read) Lewis.
I have to admit, poring over a pro-christian logical argument looking for fallacies of reasoning has a certain appeal to it ...

Yeah, screwtape letters sounds interesting. Going over how people falter sounds like perfect material for an elitist group such as ourselves. We can all point and laugh, lie to ourselves, and say, "I never do that!" If it's an interesting commentary on the motivations of humanity (or at least of individual humans), then I think it could be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, books of that timbre (have you read Ishmael?) often spend the entire book explaining a single concept, which is very good for understanding but isn't so good for discussion. Is that the case, or is it a whirlwind of new and exciting ideas?
How about we do something to indicate which we are going to read and/or have read? Maybe put the ones we have already read in italics, and strike-out the ones we are not going to read (at this point at least the Rubix Cube and most of the LISP ones, right?). Also, am I correct in recalling that we are reading 8 and 9 for tomorrow?
Sounds good; I'll do that. And yes, it's chapters 8 and 9 for tomorrow (er, today).
Upon first glance these might be interesting:

16. Mathematical Chaos and Strange Attractors
20. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
21. Review of Alan Turing.- The Enigma
22. A Coffeehouse Conversation on the Turing Test
26. Waking Up from the Boolean Dream, or, Subcognition as Computation
31. Irrationality Is the Square Root of All Evil
32. The Tale of Happiton

I marked 'em.
Here are the ones I found interesting (but then, I've read them all already):

11. Stuff and Nonsense
12. Variations on a Theme as the Crux of Creativity
13. Metafont, Metamathematics, and Metaphysics
16. Mathematical Chaos and Strange Attractors
20. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
22. A Coffeehouse Conversation on the Turing Test
23. On the Seeming Paradox of Mechanizing Creativity
24. Analogies and Roles in Human and Machine Thinking
25. Who Shoves Whom Around Inside the Careenium?
26. Waking Up from the Boolean Dream, or, Subcognition as Computation
28. Undercut, Flaunt, Pounce, and Mediocrity: Psychological Games with Numbers
29. The Prisoner's Dilemma Computer Tournaments and the Evolution of Cooperation
32. The Tale of Happiton