Douglas Hofstadter's Gödelian Philosophy of Mind


Hofstadter [1979, 2007] offered a novel Gödelian proposal which purported to reconcile the apparently contradictory theses that (1) we can talk, in a non-trivial way, of mental causation being a real phenomenon and that (2) mental activity is ultimately grounded in low-level rule-governed neural processes. In this paper, we critically investigate Hofstadter’s analogical appeals to Gödel’s [1931] First Incompleteness Theorem, whose “diagonal” proof supposedly contains the key ideas required for understanding both consciousness and mental causation. We maintain that bringing sophisticated results from Mathematical Logic into play cannot furnish insights which would otherwise be unavailable. Lastly, we conclude that there are simply too many weighty details left unfilled in Hofstadter’s proposal. These really need to be fleshed out before we can even hope to say that our understanding of classical mind-body problems has been advanced through metamathematical parallels with Gödel’s work.

Journal of Artificial Intelligence and Conciousness