Robert Klemme wrote:
> 2008/6/17 Tom Cloyd <tomcloyd / comcast.net>:
>   
>> Robert Klemme wrote:
>>
>> [snip]
>>     
>>> That makes sense, and yes, that I realized. In print() parenthesis are
>>>       
>>>> enclosing the args, whereas in print () parenthesis are affecting
>>>> precedence of passed-in expression. However, from the usability
>>>> perspective, isn't it against some basic nature laws to leave it like
>>>> this?
>>>>         
>>> There are no nature laws in IT.
>>>
>>>       
>> Absolute nonsense.
>>     
>
> Thanks for your kind reply.
>   
I was, of course, referring to your proposition, and not to you. My 
evaluation is supported (I would hope) by the rest of my statement - 
again referring to ideas, not person. The "Absolute" is, of course, 
hyperbole, and also an attempt at humorous irony, since the argument 
which followed I then made was an appeal to the relative world of real 
probability, in which absolutes ("laws") are not likely to exist.
>   
>> IT is not an entity unto itself. It is an artifact of the human brain.
>> Furthermore, it must be USED by the human brain, else it is the proverbial
>> tree falling in the forest when no one's around, and thus has no
>> consequence. AND the human brain certainly does have laws, if by "laws" we
>> mean something like "statements of pattern possessing a high probability of
>> being true" (my definition). Philosophical idealists will not be satisfied
>> by that, but such children should be ignored. Real men live with
>> probability, as a fact of life. (Are we having fun yet?) So...natural law of
>> IT exist, because all of IT must pass through the filter of the human brain.
>>     
>
> With that argument the statement "there are nature laws in X" becomes
> a tautology because they influence every aspect of reality.
Law of IT need not have relevance outside of that domain. There IS no 
necessary "influence".
>   I prefer
> to keep the distinction because this allows me to make more
> interesting (i.e. non tautological) statements.
>   
Clever, but...um...unfortunately wrong, if you reread my stipulated 
definition of "law". It's critical.

To put it differently: the brain behaves in patterned ways, which are 
describable by stochastic statements, the strongest of which approximate 
what in philosophically (and scientifically) simpler times were referred 
to as "laws". If this non-chaotic behavior be granted, and if you grant 
that IT must work in the context of this same brain, else it be 
irrelevant, then IT must also be non-chaotic, which is to say 'something 
akin to law-like' - not inherently but functionally. Chaotic IT 
certainly could (and in some quarters likely does) exist. But USEFUL IT 
cannot be structured this way, because, as I said, it must pass through 
the filter of the brain.

I think you are having trouble abandoning the idealist view of law. I 
certainly grasp that concept, but it seems useful to me only in study of 
the history of philosophy. Two words: quatum mechanics (which I believe 
IS supposed to "influence" all of nature). I rest my case.
> The point here is that all formalisms in IT are human invented and
> there is certainly nothing like a natural law that will demand that
> "f(x and y)" is a valid expression.
>
>   
>> From that point reasonable point of view, we could well have the usability
>> problem mentioned. I, for one, find this parenthesis problem obscure in the
>> extreme. What happened to the principal of least surprise? Yikes.
>>     
>
> Did it every surprise you before this thread?  If not, I don't see any
> issue with POLS.
>   
So, the falling tree in the forest makes no noise until I hear it? OK. 
But, pragmatically, if this sort of syntactic nonsense (the parenthesis 
thing - not the tree) exists in this case in Ruby, I become fearful 
about where else it might exist. Simply a practical concern. Otherwise, 
it is, as you point out, likely to be of so little import as to deserve 
no further attention.
>   
>> Keep it simple, when at all possible.
>>     
>
> Exactly. Having a feature that makes the language simple which is not
> used by anyone (or only rarely) does not justify complicating the
> parser more than necessary.
>   
A pragmatic question, and you may well be right.

Let's hope so. Of course, the next time my Ruby program fails (and I'm 
good at that), I WILL have to wonder if I'm hearing a distant tree falling.

t.

-- 

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Tom Cloyd, MS MA, LMHC
Private practice Psychotherapist
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