TITLE: Sentences to Ponder AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 09, 2012 1:36 PM DESC: ----- BODY: In Why Read?, Mark Edmundson writes:
A language, Wittgenstein thought, is a way of life. A new language, whether we learn it from a historian, a poet, a painter, or a composer of music, is potentially a new way to live.
Or from a programmer. In computing, we sometimes speak of Perlis languages, after one of Alan Perlis's best-known epigrams: A language that doesn't affect the way you think about programming is not worth knowing. A programming language can change how we think about our craft. I hope to change how my students think about programming this fall, when I teach them an object-oriented language. But for those of us who spend our days and nights turning ideas into programs, a way of thinking is akin to a way of life. That is why the wider scope of Wittgenstein's assertion strikes me as so appropriate for programmers. Of course, I also think that programmers should follow Edmundson's advice and learn new languages from historians, writers, and artists. Learning new ways to think and live isn't just for humanities majors. (By the way, I'm enjoying reading Why Read? so far. I read Edmundson's Teacher many years ago and recommend it highly.) -----