Douglas Hofstadter’s I Am a Strange Loop - Session 4 [Cosmos Café 2022-03-31]

And welcome to zombie heaven. You, too, can get an ID. Enjoy the convenience of instantly knowing who you are. Eliminate the analogue. It’s free and easy.


OMG. Does that guy even exist?

The thing is, it’s coming. China too, obviously.

I know many groups are working on decentralized ID systems on this blockchain or the other. The Big Tech companies will have theirs.

But who has the nuclear weapons? Who are most people going to “entrust” with their digital soul?

Just wait. Wouldn’t You agree, however, with natural variability? For example, could a machine predict exactly my heart rhythm—in all its fluctuations as a result of living and being alive, from the moment it begins beating in the womb to the moment I die? Both as a practical matter, and in principle, for mathematical reasons, this would likely be impossible. So I must have some irreproducible uniqueness… and so I have a sense of “I,” and the more I turn my unconscious habits into conscious choices the more “I” I have.

The game, however, is to constrain my variability within the parameters of a social system. And so then We examine that social system, its power dynamics, its occult agendas, and so forth—and “We” (“I” / “You”) as persons-in-the-world, choose how and where to position ourselves, according to our ability and will, relative to that system—whose goal is to make us more predictable.

That is what I believe is at stake in the philosophical debate. Of course, “conscious choice” is not a simple matter…


Your tin-foil hat is showing, and here lays the underpinning of our difference of opinion.

You believe you have a choice over your participation, a means to exclude yourself from this growing globalised neo-liberal system of technocratic monitoring and consumer fulfilment.

When I suggested we read Hofstadter I stated that if his analysis was correct, we had already entered the Singularity; your participation is mandatory to sustain your needs or wants.

A technological entity creates itself and wants all to play within its game. Resistance is not the issue, barcodes, or ID’s. You either hold on to your “I” or it will shape it to fit it’s purpose. You can go full Walden exemplified by Thoreau if you have the resources to live this way, you should, but for the rest of us. We are locked between the feudal, the creative expression or to act as the technological collaborator.

All else will be administration.

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Of course we are unique, and the machine may not be able to predict your death while in the womb. It will be build a picture, detailing the touch points that offer a better probability of outcome prediction. Imagine applying for life insurance, the machine will be very precise about the cut off points as predicted from a picture you may not believe exists.

The point i’m trying to impart is, to overcome this aspect you have to live, live well, take care of your family and teach why this matters more than anything else. Cultivate minds who take ownership of the “I” or lose them to an ecosystem that will not stop at this point.


And how do you know that? Are you being totally objective? Or is this just another opinion? Who do you think you are that you can tell me what I believe? Are you trying to impose a choice over my participation? Maybe you are just trying to read my mind?

And his analysis is not correct. I have stated his analysis is psuedo-scientific. And I am correct.

Another either/or propostion that requires a polarized response. And is there a way to re-phrase this that does not lead to false choices? I have wondered why you conceal your face, Ewere, in our zoom calls? Could it be to perhaps conceal that you are not really to be taken seriously? How do I know you are not just another bot sent by Putin to disrupt our resistance ? Your writing sounds to me as if it were generated by an imitation of you. That is my inter-subjective response I share with you. I hope you can hear the positive intention behind my objections to your language game. Mine is an attempt to offer feedback. I consider you an intelligent person but don’t like the tone you have adopted towards me in the above post. You are begining to lose rapport with me.

And is this intended to be parody? This feels to me like an attempt to gaslight me, attributing to me a false narrative …

I smell a rat. Can someone empty the trap?

I’m grateful that you are using position. This thread needs a stronger third position so that seconds and firsts can become more secure. We’ve been here before. I 'm getting a strong sense of deja-vu ? What is this dialogue retrieving? How can we spot the curve in the road? This is why I wanted to to develop meta-skills in the Peirce workshop, working with playing different postitons ( roles) rather than getting stuck in devil’s advocate. A move towards a poetic turn. Ewere seems to react in a polarized way, appearing to be taking on an objectivist big picture when he is just being reactive, like man who suspects he has been cheated at cards ( my metaphor). I tend to move away from Perspectivalism as it leads to more dead ends. Like the above dialogue. That is why I prefer position. Feedback is welcome. What are we retrieving? enhancing? Reversing? Obsolescing?

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And thank you for sharing yours!

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Not Much too Articulate ,as a one who feels Participation is a “Orientation
Question” of How,When,Where,Why & WHO and It Happens No Matter
the Life Situation, LIFE Demands It…Do I/You/We Listen in terms of Open/Receive and ???

Keep Moving MLK

The Song of this Thread is sounded like a Camp-Fire Gathering

Campfire 2

Sitting with the Heat…I kinda like the “Between Thought and Expression
is a Lifetime/s”!

My Position to Be Clear is one of “Cloud of Unknowing” and there’s a Certain Peace that This “I” is Good with & my Actions come from There!

Thank U Engaging in /with Your Hearts!!!

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I think there may be a lot in the above dialogue that has not been contained, a lot that is in between contained and uncontained.

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I can agree with you on this, @edoubleoo—and that is what I am trying to do with my family, and what We are also endeavoring to cultivate with this platform. Could We create a space that optimizes for resilient inter-subjectivity—the healthy, dynamic balance of I-You-and-We’s-amongst-Its all the way down, all the way up, and as far as the I can see? How concretely can we support eco-logics and meta-systems that might still honor human freedom in dynamic balance with global/personal responsibility?

The struggle you refer to I mythologize as “The War of Art.” In my poetry, I make the claim that I AM THE SINGULARITY, by which I do not mean to identify with technological utopia, but rather in the spirit of where “It” is, “I” shall become, which is sometimes referred to as “shadow work,” or in the Upanishads as the formula, “Thou art That.” Let us remember that technology may extend our senses and mental-logics, but it also extends our shadow-personas, which come in both monstrous and golden flavors.

If resistance is futile, then life has no meaning. You are just a battery in the Matrix. Is it objectively true that resistance is futile and life has no meaning, or is that precisely a statement of conformity and defeat that the “machine” (our shadow-self/Other) wants? One of my mentors used to say that We have to create change in every way possible: from within the system, by going around the system, and by resisting the system.

We also must create new systems, for as William Blake realized, if He did not create his own system He would be enslaved by another man’s. I agree that the state and capital own the world—but they only own the surface of it, not the depths or the deep (inexhaustible) wells of creativity in Nature. At some point in a real war, the question arises: Who’s side are You on? Depending on the situation and who’s asking, this could be a life-and-death question, and generally One had better answer correctly.

I have been thinking of writing something on disentangling person, perspective, and position. I know I have been confused on these distinctions, and I know the source material is confused. I was reminded recently, too, that Wilber tried to work out an “integral calculus” of perspectives, which, I think, he may have identified with “persons” too closely. Now I realize that he was trying to resuscitate Whitehead and Russell’s project on a higher level!

I see “position” as a discursive move, which obviously must be relative to other positions. Positions denote “where one is coming from”—whereas perspectives name “what one can see” from that position. A person is the “I” who inhabits positions and has perspectives, and may move between them, and also grow (or alternately devolve) in the positions they can inhabit and perspectives they can access. Our strange loops can represent other strange loops to itself, and relate itself to them, and this gives it access to other “persons,” with distinct (dynamic) positions and perspectives: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… all the way to the Nth whole number of cosmic consciousness.

This is a definitional schema I am teasing out… and I would still like to think through out how it relates to (perhaps enhances or retrieves) aspects of the philosophical texts (such as by Wilber, Gebser, McLuhan, Hofstadter, et al.) that are informing our discourse.


What " one can see" is exalting the visual system. Seeing is understanding is a metaphor imposed by the Modern. The A-perspectival is liberated from the Modern, and is able to intergrate visual and acoustic spaces, to re-order the senses, without the tendency to split them up. Coleridge comes to mind I see, not feel, how beautiful they are! An apt description of the Visual/Kinesthetic split.

As the A-perspectival integrates, rather than divides the senses, each person would be able to tune into all senses, even if blind, like Jacques Luyserran. Now you shall learn to see in a different way…Trauma tends to disrupt the integration of the senses as many poets remind us of.

Perceptual spaces are different from Perspectives. This is where Wilber was in error. He assumed we each have partial views which is confused, leading to more partial views ad nauseum, creating the meta-crisis. Taking perspective creates the vanishing point on the horizon from which the modern “I” is established, suppressing the other senses. Wilber exalts perspectives,. This is a Western developmental bias. Hofstader makes a similar mistake by isolating the “I”, freezing it in a view from nowhere, trapped in the dark prison of some unspecified area of the brain.

A fluid perceptual system is on a continuum. The Relational Circuit, which I presented recently, is topological, not arithmetical, and avoids being caught in Godel’s proof. The Relational Circuit is positional, not propositional. The Relational Circuit is a system that is both complete and consistent. It does not draw conclusions but necessery relations. When the mind is free to roam around the three positions of the Circuit without being forced to take a perspective, a logic of relationships naturally arises, which seems absent in Hofstader’s self-reflexive loop. To touch the 1-2-3 positions is to touch the form itself. You need not go outside of the system to know the system.

I think this can lead to confusion. The 1-2-3 of the Relational Circuit is non-orientable. It has no up, down, left, right, front, back. Nothing outside the circuit is required to make it whole. It is okay to cut a shape temporarily as long as it is re-connected. This makes for a landed Cosmos, rather than a lonely astronaut, lost in a void.

Thanks for helping us sort this out, Marco. Rather than just criticize Hofstader’s model I prefer to work with other models. Then, we can better differentiate what is contained, containing, and uncontained. Just a few thoughts that might open up future dialogic spaces. I feel much more grounded, having had this discussion. I think I can review this thread with more capacity for tuning into the forgotten third.

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Well I guess my integrity has been called into question… what would it take to absolve my character in your eyes? Must I change my mind?

Is there a specific character or person who has your permission to discuss these matters?

If indoubt of any claim “I” have made throughout this forum, please take time to engage with the young person (16-30); ask them how they date, work, trade, communicate, store memories, engage with community (unless in a religous order), learn, or pay taxes? Automation does not offer choice it excludes the incapable.



Who are you trying to teach, Ewere? The 16-30 year olds or the Baby boomers generation? How do you intend to use these categories? And how do these categories stabilize for you? Bernie Sanders, who is much older than I am, in this country, was very popular with young adults. So, I find your broad generalizations perplexing, as most of the persons in this community who are reading Hofstader, are not young adults. Are you, Ewere,claiming that you can speak for them? That you have special access to them that I do not? Please clarify.

And who, exactly, are the less fortunate? My best friend has Parkinson’s and has had multiple strokes. I know lots of unfortuantes but I don’t presume to teach them.

And is there anything else about this new form of pedogogy?

And when we must teach them to live with us, why must we do that?

And what determines agency or conformity? Is there anything between agency or conformity? How do you know when you are an agent? How do you know when you are comformity?

I believe you, Ewere. You have lots of beliefs that you believe. I am open to doubt some of mine. You clearly are not open to doubt yours. And that is a difference between us. I value my doubts. Skepticsm is a value I cultivate. I am sceptical about some of your arguments but not all of them.

I have read Skinner’s work. Have you? What is it about the lens that he uses which informs you? I have also read Chomsky’s review of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior, which demolished his theories. The behaviorists among us die hard, as they re-appear, in the strangest places.

When I made this statement, I still had hope that this was a shared value. Your behavior has unsettled me in that hope. Maybe this is not a shared value? In the zoom calls I prefer to look into the person’s eyes, to watch gestures, to catch a vibe. I realize the zoom calls are happening in a digitalized form, so that there are many distortions, of face and voice and that this is virtual not real as if we were in the same location. As you appear to me as a black box on the screen I can only go by what I hear on zoom and what you write in this forum. Please be aware of these limitations if you feel misunderstood or unappreciated.

Margaret Thather used to say," There is no alternative." This was called by British philosopher, Roy Bhaskar, a TINA formation. I believe there are lots of alternatives. So did Bhaskar who identified as a concrete utopian. I’m very suspicious of those who claim to be realists like Thatcher. I find they usually are promoting thier own advantage.

The times they are changing. You don’t have to change your mind about anything, Ewere. Mine is changing quite a bit. I hope this has been a useful exchange and that we can turn attention Hofstader. I supported your desired outcome to present this material. Do you remember that? I am not sure that we share much but I do remember asking you what support you need to make this happen? If you want me to drop out so you can declare victory I am happy to do so as I seem to cramp your style. Hofstader says much about style that I do find useful even as I find little in this book to use for political purposes. Thanks for your attention.


I’m unsure you can make an ad-hominem attack and expect me to share your doubt, if my argument was incorrect I could take a direct response to the hypothesis, not my character.

If you doubt my belief, respond with why? not an exception, allusion or dream and I can rebut, but once we drag each other down to personal attacks, we have lost the civil ground.


That good enough advice. And I hope you hold yourself to the high standards that you have for others. I am okay to drop out of this Hofstader reading group and pick up when the other authors we have decided to sponsor come up. If that’s what you prefer please let me know. I want to support others here to be at their best, too, not just you and myself are participating. I have been working with this community for five years and we have had some good moments. But I am willing to accept a back seat and let you do the driving, Ewere. I can direct my attention to other pressing concerns.


As I have participated in this thread and am aware of all of the broken relational circuits in my own body electric caused by the malpractice of many nefarious agents, I am also sensitive to the signs of a flowing, inter-generational, interfolding life-force. This analysis, by a young, gay, man, resisting Putin’s sound and fury, seems resonant with what is happening in between what is contained, and uncontained. He is operating within a manifold,…a local question,…and a global non-euclidean geometry of social space. This young man can’t be reduced to an archetype or a cliche . He is the thing itself. I find his analysis of history, his clear choices made under great pressure, and his freedom from integenerational type-casting, re-vitalizing of our planetary culture. I have lived long enough to see younger generations grow up and previous generations die off. My own generation is dying off rather quickly. And out of the disconnects and the felt sense of our collaborations, the interior a young person takes flight, once again, and with a vision. May we rejoice that a neo-human ( not a post -human) is arising from the ashes of our deceptions, disconnects, traumas. This young man infolds a new kind of human potential, made partly possible by the new tech. Let us re-connect to wisdom whatever the age of the person who re-embodies that wisdom and in whatever media it happens through. He has the courage to love. Long live concrete utopians!


I concur: “perspective” refers to the visual system, and that is a sensory bias of Wilberian Integral Theory; “aperspectival” was Gebser’s way of saying what the integral is not, or not solely.

I once started a poem:

I see…
& I feel
what I see

I receive
what I hear
& communicate
on my frequency…

—then going off in a very different direction from Colridge’s Ode.

I am not so sure Hofstadter remains stuck in the solipsistic “I” since he does have a (very personal) theory about how the loops of our I’s intertwine (an account of intersubjectivity), which comes forward more strongly in the next session’s chapters. It is nowhere near an integral theory, however, and I believe that is part of the tension that has been stressing the relational circuits of these threads.

I do think we need a concept of N persons to account for “all sentient beings.” Who has a perspective? Who takes a position? Who (not what, as in a brain) is conscious or not? Also, I think positions are good but they can lend themselves to being reified in discursive terms. How would we talk about movement in relation to positionality? And how might movement relate to “changing one’s mind”?

An administrative note: @edoubleoo — We had agreed previously to schedule these Cafés on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month. The 31st would be a 5th Thursday. Do we want to add this extra session in, and then come back the next week (1st Thursday in April) for the fifth and final segment of the book?


It can’t be said but it can be shown. I already demonstrated that. To talk or not to talk, that is the question. And if you decide to talk there will be movement. Even blind people gesture when they speak. That gesture ( which often contains more meaning than the verbal content) is not captured on a spread sheet. But we speak as if the jagged line on a chart is a movement when it re-represents a movement. You can use a somatic syntax with Peirce’s triads, which I demonstrated live in one of our zoom calls, para-moves without insider/outsider splits. Perspectives are already cut up and cut off. You can always use drawings to share movement as drawing is the trace of a gesture. But not a digital drawing. These are differences between analogue, digital, speech, writing. An Intergral Age, will have intergrated positions so that the A-perspectival can integrate the perspectival. Most people in our digitized world are processing from the neck up.

We can have all kinds of content go through the heart chakra and the heart chakra holds that diverse content. So you can be happy/sad at the same time, revealing the heart as a timespace.


I came across this artist’s work recently and it struck me as quite well done, and offering a different way (not anti-materialist/physicalist, and not just mental-rational either) of studying the brain. I think this work may complement Hofstadter well, while opening up lateral and divergent cultural resonances:

I am thinking of buying a print to replace the monstrosity on my wall:


The Ukraine War has reared it’s ugly head. Ewere, as the sponsor of this Hofstader book, appears to have gone A.W.O.L. He is perhaps busy with other things to do and I wish him well. I suggest we switch gears and bring in an alternate focus for the next Cafe that feels right to me for this increasingly turbulent time. As we have entered a communal death space, now, is the time to ground our energies.

Philllip Moffitt offers a surprisingly effective transmission that puts many of the themes we have covered in the Cafe into play. The video demo is experiential and quite effective. I expect we could then have more grounded infinite conversations.

With the tensions created by the roll out of WEB 3 and the commodification of the human communication system, it might be nice to have strong accesss to the ever present Etheric Body. These subtle bodies, operating in the background, can become foreground, and are much more powerful than the AI machines that dominate us currently. With the wide spread awareness of the subtle realms we might gain some stablity that can modify the Corporate Nation that threatens to obsolesce human discourse in favor of the algorithm. The Cafe has begun to manifest a concrete Utopianism, and as the conditions for it’s survival appears rather unstable, I suggest a change of pace. We are such stuff as pixels are made of.

We can add this video as parallel to Hofstader. The pointing out instructions are easy to folllow. And what happens to the Strange Loop? Thompson and Graeber seems more relevant, now, than Hofstader’s entertaining, physicalist musings about flatland. We are always free to finish Strange Loop but I echo, Marco, when he says Hofstader is not Integral. And the clock is ticking. If anyone gets this message, what sayest Thou?