Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session
There are no prerequisites for this course.
We titled this course Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey for a variety of reasons. The first part is not necessarily obvious. Although the three names allude to the very famous mathematician Kurt Gödel, the even more prominent artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, and finally the musical genius Johann Sebastian Bach, this course will not be about these three remarkable individuals. Rather, we will find their spirits aboard our mental ship as we explore the ideas that surround the contents of this course.
So what is this course about? It will be a course in climbing mental mountains and crossing intellectual oceans, with Douglas R. Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, often called GEB, as our guide book. I will not go any further in describing what GEB is about and save that for when you take my course. Finally, you should really consider this class a "Mental Space Odyssey"—An ode to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. I want you all to become very used to the idea of packing your bags and going on an intellectual vacation. Potential vacation destinations include Zen Buddhism, Logic, Metamathematics, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Recursion, Complex Systems, Consciousness, Music and Art.
Lectures will be a place for crazy ideas to bounce around as we try to pace our way through this enlightening tome. You will be responsible for most of the reading as lectures will consist primarily of motivating the material and encouraging discussion. I advise everyone seriously interested to buy the book, grab on and get ready for a mind-expanding voyage into higher dimensions of recursive thinking.
There are no grades for this course.
This course was offered through the High School Studies Program (HSSP), a project of the MIT Educational Studies Program. HSSP offers non-credit, enrichment courses to 7th—12th grade students on Sundays at MIT. This program is designed to give these students a chance to take courses in a wide variety of topics. Courses cover both academic and non-academic subjects. The classes are designed to be fun and interesting for students and to offer them an opportunity to learn about something in which they're interested.