The linguistic philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein
updated over 6 years ago; latest suggestion about 6 years ago
As programmers, we think a lot about language; its syntax, using language - both of the natural and programming varieties - to communicate ideas, and the meanings of words. Unsurprisingly, there is a large body of philosophical thought on the topic, as well. This is a talk about one of the most interesting 20th Century thinkers about language, Ludwig Wittgenstein. It will cover both his major works, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophus and the Philosophical Investigations, with an eye to their historical context and the development of his thinking over time.
Topics covered will include: "what is truth?"; "what is the meaning of a word?"; "language as games".
While the talk will be of interest to programmers in that it concerns the philosophical underpinnings of logic and language, I won't be aiming to contrive any links back to our day jobs. That'd be corny.
I'd certainly be interested in this, the impact of naming in programming has a huge impact.
Sometimes coming up with a better name for concept triggers a wave of productivity as things fall into place, previous thinking being hampered by a badly named class or method.
I've been thinking about similar things lately, and how it impacts my design decisions and user experience. I've found it particularly interesting when my presumptions around what truth or meaning accidentally manifest in what I allow a user to do, constraints/validations I put on data, etc.
Sometimes those constraints aren't required for any reason beyond making others conform to my world view. Others may find it interesting to explore how these concepts affect their own code.
James: that's something I'm thinking about. I'd certainly hope to tailor the material to the audience and ground it somehow, while avoiding contrived links. I don't know concretely how I would do that because planning of the talk hasn't gone beyond "hey, that's a fun idea" yet.
This sounds great. I don't really know anything about philosophy but I'm really interested. I hope you can make it pretty accessible to people like me.
Are you planning on including any kind of Ruby- (or even development-) related hook that the audience will be able to use to ground the concepts that you'd discuss?
An example of a good hook is the use of the trivial "Fizz Buzz" program in Tom Stuart's Programming with Nothing; while it has little to do with the ideas that the presentation was about, it helped the audience orient themselves at each stage of the argument he proposed.
Lovely. Definitely interested in this. From memory, there was an argument in Philosophical Investigations that you could never truly grasp whether someone else had understood "a rule" or not (i.e. addition: just because people give correct answers to questions like 5 + 3 doesn't mean they would give answers consistent with your beliefs at 50000 + 3). Think there might be something interesting there as a reflection on the Tests vs Proof/Compilers verification of programs to explore.