What is the mind? Who am I? Can mere matter think or feel? Where is the soul? Anyone who confronts these questions runs headlong into perplexities. We conceived this book as an attempt to reveal these perplexities and make them vivid. Our purpose is not so much to answer the big questions directly as to jolt everyone: people who are committed to a hard-nosed, no-nonsense scientific world view; as well as people who have a religious or spiritualistic vision of the human soul. We believe there are at present no easy answers to the big questions, and it will take radical rethinking of the issues before people can be expected to reach a consensus about the meaning of the word “I.” This book, then, is designed to provoke, disturb and befuddle its readers, to make the obvious strange and, perhaps, to make the strange obvious.
We would like to thank the contributors and the many people who have advised and inspired us………………….
This book grew out of conversations in 1980 at the Center for Advanced Study in the behavioral sciences in Palo Alto, where Dennett was a Fellow engaged in research on Artificial Intelligence and philosophy; sponsored by NSF Grant (BNS 78-24671) and the Alfred P Sloan Foundation. It was completed while Hofstadter was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow engaged in research in artificial intelligence at Stanford University. We want to thank these foundations for supporting our research, and for providing settings in which our discussions could lead to collaboration.

Douglas R. Hofstadter
Daniel C. Dennett
April 1981

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