Saturday, November 24, 2007

How To Do Philosophy

Having devoted a good deal of time and thought to both computer science and philosophy, points of intersection are generally of interest to me; and, as time goes by, I notice more and more notable software creators who majored in philosophy.

Stewart Butterfield (Flickr) has a master's in philosophy from the University of Cambridge. Kai Krause has a doctorate in philosophy. Most recently, I realized Paul Graham spent most of his university time majoring in philosophy.

Among Graham's most recent is an essay titled How to Do Philosophy:

"In high school I decided I was going to study philosophy in college. I had several motives, some more honorable than others. One of the less honorable was to shock people. College was regarded as job training where I grew up, so studying philosophy seemed an impressively impractical thing to do. Sort of like slashing holes in your clothes or putting a safety pin through your ear, which were other forms of impressive impracticality then just coming into fashion.

But I had some more honest motives as well. I thought studying philosophy would be a shortcut straight to wisdom. All the people majoring in other things would just end up with a bunch of domain knowledge. I would be learning what was really what..."



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