Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why coders — and codologists — should love postmodernists

Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) and Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)

"The analytic vs. continental divide" topic still seems to matter to some philosophers, and some analytic philosophers still take pot shots at what is grouped under the "postmodernism" tent (and at Derrida in particular). I think for coders (and codologists), this is peculiar. Now there is a logical style that analytic philosophers follow (for the most part), and a poetical style that continental philosophers follow, but one could go right or go wrong in either style.

When I think of those who attack the continentals, the first who come to my mind are the right-wing Christian activists who continuously bring up the "postmodernists" for being at the core of who are destroying society (e.g., Deconstructionism and the Left, by David Barton). A leader in the promotion of intelligent design, the Discovery Institute, is also a leader in the attack on postmodernism. Also, some of those on the analytic side are Ayn Rand libertarians (those who proclaim the supremacy of Aristotelian logic and who also attack the "postmodernists"), or Christian analytic philosophers (e.g., Alvin Plantinga).

I like the analytic approach when it can be coded in symbolic logic (like "A logic for 'because'": researchgate.net/publication/231927187_A_Logic_for_Because - which gives a formal logic for 'because' that is missed in previous "Euthyphro" analyses).

Some continentals may have some screwed up ideas. But so do some analytics. (That continentals are antifoundationalists, though, puts them at an advantage over analytics to some degree in formulating good philosophy. In that, they are more clear-thinking than many analytics.)

Derrida does have meaning (no pun intended) for some theoretical computer scientists who delve into the semantics of programming languages. Of course, that the same code can produce different results in different (e.g., compile-time vs. run-time, or lexical vs. dynamic) contexts is well known to coders: A piece of code has a not-necessarily fixed meaning.

Simulacra, deconstruction, différance, and other "postmodern evils" may be confusing for some analytic philosphers, but they are not for coders.

Should Computer Scientists Read Derrida?
Derrida - defining deconstruction: youtube.com/watch?v=vgwOjjoYtco
How Radical is Derrida's Deconstructive Reading?
"Tossing Algebraic Flowers Down the Great Divide":
"Derrida's Machines": thinkartlab.com/pkl/media/DERRIDA/DERRIDA.htm
Which philosophy is dead?, by Santiago Zabala