Added to online version: 4 Oct 2007; Updated: 15 Dec 2014; 28 Jul 2015
Moved to separate document: 26 Dec 2015
(Hofstadter's review rightly criticises some of the unnecessarily aggressive tone and throw-away remarks, but also gives a thorough assessment of the main ideas of the book.
However, like many researchers in AI (and probably most in philosophy, including Stephen Stich, in the review referenced below), Hofstadter regards the philosophy of science in the first part of this book, e.g. Chapter 2, as relatively uninteresting, whereas I still think (in 2015) that understanding those issues is central to understanding how human minds work as they learn more about the world and themselves. Some of my recent work is still trying to get to grips with those issues in the context of a theory of varieties of learning and development in biological and artificial systems, e.g. in connection with the EU funded CoSy robotic project (2004-8), followed by the EU funded CogX project (2008-12), but most importantly by the (unfunded) Turing-inspired Meta-Morphogenesis project begun late 2011:
That review has now been made available, with the author's permission, here:
Part of the review criticised the notion of 'Explaining possibilities' as one of the aims of science and my use of Artificial Intelligence as an example, Chapter 2.
A partial response to the review by Stich (and implicitly also a response to
Hofstadter) is now available in this discussion of explanations of
possibilities based on "construction kits":
(That is still work in progress.)
Several of the reviews published in response to the original book are now available online, e.g. Donald Mackay's review in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Vol 30 No 3 (1979), which castigated me for not reviewing previous relevant work by Craik, Wiener and McCulloch.
Perhaps the earliest published reference to this book is this paper by two
refers to some of the ideas in Chapter 6, which had been circulated earlier:
Shallice, T., & Evans, M. E. (1978). The involvement of the frontal lobes in cognitive estimation. Cortex, 14, 294-303, available at: