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Seen 'through a glass darkly'


With all this talk about objects, states, events, processes - read the
philospher's use of words. I wonder, could computer science learn from
their way of thinking, or have _we_ inherited the terms from _them_ - or is
it just every day terms put in different contexts? When they talk of minds,
could we talk about programs?

   Wittgenstein, P.M.S. Hacker. Phænix, ISDN 0 753 80193 0 - 59 pages

   p17: It is, at first blush, a natural and tempting picture:
   We speak of the 'external world' of physical objects, states, events and
   processes in space. But as Frege put it, 'even an unphilosophical man
   soon finds it necessary to reckognize an inner world distinct from the
   outer world, a world of sense impressions, of creatures of his
   imagination, of sensations, of feelings and moods, a world of
   inclinations, wishes and decisions'. The physical world is public,
   accessible to all by perception. The mental worlds is the world of
   subjective experience. It too consists of objects (pains, mental images,
   sense-impressions), states (of joy or sorrow), events (the occurrence of
   a thought, a pain, a sudden recollection) and processes (thinking,
   calculation) - although these are mental and mysterious, curiously
   aethereal, intangible.
   p20: This picture of human nature is widely held. It is, Wittgenstein
   argued, misguided in every respect, even though it contains kernels of
   truth 'seen through a glass darkly'. For it is indeed based on features
   of our language, but it distorts and misinterprets them. His criticisms
   demolish the Cartesian picture and undermine contemporary brain/body
   dualism equally effectively.

The book goes on to discuss 'Private ownership of experience', 'Epistemic
privacy' etc- there's so much white-box / black-box kind of thinking there!
I feel this quite close to some of the discussions going on in this group.
What do you say, (how) could we learn from this?

/ Øyvind Teig
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