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Tractatus Digito-Philosophicus

February 19th, 2011 02:44 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

Tractatus Digito-Philosophicus, part of the project Wittgenstein for programmers by Harrison Ainsworth (whose blog is very much recommended to LtUers).

This is a somewhat odd venture: a translation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus into the domain of software development.

The software intellect – its basic conceptual forms – is rooted in the early 20th century, the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s. That is where the work of Church and Turing, lambda calculus and computability, comes from. And it is also the time of the Vienna Circle, logical positivism, and Wittgenstein’s early work, the ‘Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus’.

One might notice one day that software seems pointedly related to its original philosophical contemporaries. It is fundamentally a logical construction. It is like a Wittgensteinian logical proposition, but instead of describing the world, software constructs the imagination. There is a clear isomorphism. All terms related to describing map to terms related to constructing, and similarly for world and imagination. It seems a simple transformation will take Wittgenstein to software.

So an interesting project emerges: translate the Tractatus into software terms! The result is sometimes obscure, but sometimes clearer than the original, and most is (still) quite odd and intriguing (which is perhaps the main virtue anyway) . . .

(So far it is only partial and unfinished.)

Source: Tractatus Digito-Philosophicus

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