Everything and Nothing

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Wends had lent me a copy of Extreme Programming Explained, but I missed out on the reference to Socrates. college level philosophy and did some searching. This quote refreshed me:

A Socratic dialogue takes the form of question-answer, question-answer, question-answer. It is a dialectical style as well. Socrates would argue both sides of a question in order to arrive at a conclusion. Then that conclusion is argued against another assumption and so on. Perhaps it is not that difficult to understand why Socrates was considered a gadfly!

There is a reason why Socrates employed this style, as well as why Plato recorded his experience with Socrates in the form of a dialogue. Socrates taught Plato a great many things, but one of the things Plato more or less discovered on his own was that mankind is born with knowledge. That is, knowledge is present in the human mind at birth. It is not so much that we "learn" things in our daily experience, but that we "recollect" them. In other words, this knowledge is already there. This may explain why Socrates did not give his students answers, but only questions. His job was not to teach truth but to show his students how they could "pull" truth out of their own minds (it is for this reason that Socrates often considered himself a midwife in the labor of knowledge). And this is the point of the dialogues. For only in conversation, only in dialogue, can truth and wisdom come to the surface.

How apt that today's programming practice relates to 2,000+ year old wisdom. That's an insight for my quest towards software correctness.

For some wry humor, The Renaissance Girl talks about the Cardinal's Golf Tournament and the return of Padre Damaso, the archetypical Spanish frair villain from Jose Rizal's revolutionary novels.

Gerry Alanguilan, comics artist, has a new site. It reminded me that one of my favorite songs, The Dance by Barbie's Cradle, was the inspiration for his most well-known work, Wasted. I never got to read that.


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