Addressing general readers as well as software practitioners, Software and Mind discusses the fallacies of the mechanistic ideology and the degradation of minds caused by these fallacies. Mechanism holds that every aspect of the world can be represented as a simple hierarchical structure of entities. But, while useful in fields like mathematics and manufacturing, this idea is generally worthless, because most aspects of the world are too complex to be reduced to simple structures. Our software-related affairs, in particular, cannot be represented in this fashion. And yet, all programming theories and development systems, and all software applications, attempt to reduce real-world problems to neat hierarchical structures of data, operations, and features.
Using Karl Popper's famous principles of demarcation between science and pseudoscience, the book shows that the mechanistic ideology has turned most of our software-related activities into pseudoscientific pursuits. Using mechanism as warrant, the software elites are promoting invalid, even fraudulent, software notions. They force us to depend on generic, inferior systems, instead of allowing us to develop software skills and to create our own systems. Software mechanism emulates the methods of manufacturing, and thereby restricts us to high levels of abstraction and simple, isolated structures. The benefits of software, however, can be attained only if we start with low-level elements and learn to create complex, interacting structures.
Software, the book argues, is a non-mechanistic phenomenon. So it is akin to language, not to manufactured objects. Like language, it permits us to mirror the world in our minds and to communicate with it. Moreover, we increasingly depend on software in everything we do, in the same way that we depend on language. Thus, being restricted to mechanistic software is like thinking and communicating while being restricted to some ready-made sentences supplied by an elite. Ultimately, by impoverishing software, our elites are achieving what the totalitarian elite described by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four achieves by impoverishing language: they are degrading our minds.
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Some of the Consequences of the Mechanistic Software Myth
The mechanistic myth is the belief that everything can be described as a neat hierarchical structure of things within things. And few of us realize that our entire culture is now based on this fallacy. While the world consists of complex, interacting structures, we prefer to treat every phenomenon as a simple, isolated structure.
Through our software pursuits, the mechanistic myth has spread beyond its academic origins and is affecting every aspect of human existence. In just one generation, it has expanded from worthless theories of mind and society (behaviourism, structuralism, universal grammar, etc.) to worthless concepts in the field of programming (structured programming, object-oriented programming, the relational database model, etc.) to worthless software-related activities that we all have to perform.
What is worse, our mechanistic beliefs have permitted powerful software elites to arise. While appearing to help us enjoy the benefits of software, the elites are in fact preventing us from creating and using software effectively. By invoking mechanistic software principles, they are fostering ignorance in software-related matters and inducing dependence on their systems. Increasingly, in one occupation after another, all we need to know is how to operate some software systems that are based on mechanistic principles. But our minds are capable of non-mechanistic knowledge. So, when the elites force us to depend on their software, they exploit us in two ways: by preventing us from creating better, non-mechanistic software; and by preventing us from using the superior, non-mechanistic capabilities of our minds.
The ultimate consequence of our mechanistic culture, then, is the degradation of minds. If we restrict ourselves to mechanistic performance, our non-mechanistic capabilities remain undeveloped. The world is becoming more and more complex, yet we see only its simple, mechanistic aspects. So we cope perhaps with the mechanistic problems, but the complex, non-mechanistic ones remain unsolved, and may eventually destroy us.
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Book Description Andsor Books, 2013. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0986938904
Book Description Andsor Books, 2013. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. 1st edition. 944 pages. 9.30x6.20x2.60 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 0986938904