Software Needs Philosophers

Mark Shelor mshelor at
Sun May 21 14:49:04 CEST 2006

Xah Lee wrote:

> Programming languages are religions. For a long while now I've been
> mildly uncomfortable calling it “religion”, but I don't feel bad
> about it anymore. They're similar enough. At the top of the language
> religion is the language itself; it serves as the deity and the object
> of worship.

Programmers often display religious devotion to their chosen 
language(s).  But that's a reflection of the programmer, not of the 

Programming languages are nothing more than instruments: a means for 
describing the process of computation.  Any given language has no 
meaning or significance above and beyond its use as an instrument for 
describing and performing computations.

What's the need for religion or mysticism, other than to impart false 
importance to problems that are already well-understood?  There's no 
measurable value or progress in such an endeavor.  Instrumentalism is a 
more constructive path.

> Problem is, each time you switch religions, the next one has less
> impact on you. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic, they say. I don't
> know what that means for me, since I was raised by the
> assembly-language wolf, but it appears to mean that I'm never going to
> be enthralled with another programming language. And now that I've
> swallowed the red pill, what choice do I have? I need to try to show
> people what's out there.

Is there really something new out there?  I would argue that software 
needs innovation more than it needs philosophers.


More information about the Python-list mailing list