Need to warm your brain up again after the Christmas break? Try this fascinating and entertaining talk by developer, technical author and philosophy graduate Matt Butcher on "How the Ancient Greeks Invented Programming". Butcher gives us a very brief overview of the metaphysics of Plato and Aristotle, and draws some interesting connections between their philosophies and the modern computing ideas of OOP and FP. He even suggests - not entirely in jest - that Scala is an attempt to integrate Platonic and Aristotelian ideas. Great stuff.
And just because I like to play Indians-invented-everything-uncle, I'll say that Indians were talking about these philosophical issues around the same time as Greeks. The whole Buddhist philosophy of self deals with being and non-being, and chaos in the sense of self, and Gautama Buddha is believed to have died right around the time Plato was born. So, Buddhist philosophy precedes Plato's by atleast a couple of decades
Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:And just because I like to play Indians-invented-everything-uncle, I'll say that Indians were talking about these philosophical issues around the same time as Greeks.
And you might even be right. But folks in the West, especially the US, don't know anything of Asian history. We were taught that there was no knowledge anywhere during the European Dark Ages. This myth of the Dark Ages ignores huge amounts of advanced knowledge and philosophy in the Middle-East, lower Asia, China and Japan. Americans are poorer because of our lack of proper appreciation.
Pat Farrell wrote:The word Algorithm clearly has Arabic roots.
It is Arabic, although rather later than Plato/Aristotle/Buddha. It's a corrupted version of the name of the Muslim mathematician and scientist Musa Al-Khwarizmi who worked in Baghdad during the 9th century and built on ideas from both Greek and Indian sources. Lots more about this fascinating period in Science And Islam.
Pat Farrell wrote:We were taught that there was no knowledge anywhere during the European Dark Ages. This myth of the Dark Ages ignores huge amounts of advanced knowledge and philosophy in the Middle-East, lower Asia, China and Japan.
And even the Dark Ages in Europe were not so "dark" as they have traditionally been viewed. Here in Britain, the "Dark Ages" have also long been known as the Age Of Saints in Wales at least, and in Britain and Ireland this was a period of poetry, learning and truly astonishing Celtic art like the Lindisfarne Gospels or the Book of Kells. Further afield in Europe, there was great art produced by all kinds of cultures during the "Dark Ages". But history is written by the winners, and the Western Church was perhaps less inclined to give credit to its competitors in this early period.
But it still has to be admitted that we owe almost all of our science and mathematics from this period to the Arabs and their Greek or Indian predecessors.
I don't know if there's much research done on this, but I suspect globally there was a person of philosophical renaissance going around 500 bc. Some very great philosophers lived around the span of 500 years. One way to look at it is that. Plato, Buddha, Mohammed, Confiscious and Jesus lived almost at the same time. How come we see them addressing similar issues in different ways at the same time? I suspect this great men didn't come up with their philosophies in isolation, rather, they borrowed from each other. Even though they didn't talk to each other directly, the ideas that inspired them must have been shared among the cultures
Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:... Plato, Buddha, Mohammed, Confiscious and Jesus lived almost at the same time...
As Pat says, Mohammed was about a thousand years after Plato or Buddha, and obviously Mohammed and Jesus both drew from older Jewish traditions (among others) anyway. It's true that some people have described the period from 800 BCE to 200 BCE as the Axial Age because of the influential philosophical and religious ideas developed during that period. But I'm not sure how much weight to place on that idea, as it's still a span of 600 years - i.e. roughly from today back to the Gutenberg press - so it's not really surprising that at least some people were coming up with clever ideas in all that time!
subject: How the Ancient Greeks Invented Programming