TITLE: Pascal's Criticism of Extreme Programming
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: September 28, 2017 3:17 PM
Blaise Pascal believed that the key error of the school of
philosophy known as
lay in thinking that people can do always what they
can, in reality, only do sometimes.
Had Pascal lived in the time of software development, he would
probably have felt the same way about Extreme Programming and
I was reminded of Pascal the philosopher (not the language)
earlier this week when I wrote code for several hours without
writing my unit tests. As a result, I found myself refactoring
blind for most of the project. The code was small enough that
this worked out fine, and I didn't even feel much fear while
moving along at a decent pace. Even so, I felt a little guilty.
Pascal made a good point about Stoicism, but I don't think that
this means I ought not be a Stoic -- or a practitioner of XP.
XP helps me to be a better programmer. I do have to be aware,
though, that it asks me to act against my natural tendencies,
just as Stoicism encourages us not to be controlled by desire
One of the beauties of XP is that it intertwines a number of
practices that mutually support one another, which helps to
keep me in a groove. It helps me to reduce the size of my
fear, so that I don't as much to control. If I hadn't been
refactoring so often this week, I probably wouldn't have even
noticed that I hadn't written tests!
One need not live in fear of coming up short of the ideal.
No one is perfect. I'll get back to writing my tests on my
next program. There is no need to beat myself up about one
program. Everything worked out fine.