I can’t help feeling that I was a little unfair to Douglas Hofstadter in my last post, so as these were hypothetical letters, I will travel back in time, and send two more, enquiring whether a reductionist or a holistic approach is the better way to approach questions of Life, the Universe and Everything. Here is the text of both hypothetical letters:
Most Excellent Wordsmith,
Holism or reductionism?
Master of the (not (just) an) Excel WordPress-blog
On this occaision I suspect that Douglas Adams would have decided to answer the question in the form of a full length book, called The Trout of Indecision, but being unable to decide whether it should be yet another addition to the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy (with the theme of not being able to see the school for all the fish), or a Dirk Gently story (with the theme that there are interconnections between all things, but some interconnections are much more interesting than others), he would miss deadline after deadline, until sadly and finally being swept up by the final deadline that comes to us all.
Douglas Hofstadter on the other hand would reply promptly with a single two letter word:
clearly intended to be read three times, the first and last as a phonetic contraction of the TLA, MEW, but what is the meaning of the body of the letter?
each letter of “HOLISM” is made up of the word “REDUCTIONISM”, and that:
each letter of reductionism is made up of the word “HOLISM”. And if we zoom still further we see that:
each letter of the smaller words is made up of multiple copies of the word:
… and so on.
All images in this post are based on the original from Douglas Hofstadter’s “Godel, Escher Bach”
Some nice links about Godel, Escher, Bach, and Godel, Escher, Bach can be found at: Godel, Escher, Bach